Catterina Vizzani

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Print of Catterina Vizzani in men's clothes

Catterina Vizzani, alias Giovanni Bordoni (1719–1743), was an Italian woman who became famous after her death for living life as man.

Vizzani was born to a carpenter in Rome. At some point, she ran away from home to Viterbo, where she adopted male clothing and the male identity of Giovanni Bordoni.

Vizzani worked for a vicar in Perugia for four years. She then worked as a footman for the noble Cavaliere Francesco Maria Pucci in Monte Pulciano. In her identity as Bordoni, Vizzani was widely known for her love affairs with women and had the reputation of a seducer. In 1743, Vizzani convinced the niece of a vicar to elope with her Rome. The couple was intercepted along the way and Vizzani was mortally wounded.

On her deathbed, Vizzani allegedly confessed to a nun that she was biologically a woman. She then allegedly asked to be buried in women's clothing and to be honored as a virgin.

Giovanni Battista Bianchi, an Italian surgeon, examined Vizzani's remains to establish if there were any physical explanation of her sexual orientation. Vizzani's funeral was widely attended, as the public regarded her as a woman who died for her virginity.

Bianchi later published a biography of Vizzani titled Breve storia della vita di Catterina Vizzani romana che per ott'anni vesti abito da uomo in qualita di servidore, la quale dopo varj casi essendo in fine stata uccisa fu trovata pulcella nella sezzione del suo cadavero di Giovanni Bianchi professore di Notomi in Siena (Venezia: Occhi, Simone, 1744), making her famous. It was later translated to English as The True History and Adventures of Catharine Vizzani (1751).

See also[edit]


  • Robert Aldrich,Garry Wotherspoon: Who's who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II (2001)
  • Rudolf Dekker & Lotte van de Pol (1995). Kvinnor i manskläder. En avvikande tradition. Europa 1500-1800. Stockholm: Östlings Bokförlag Symposion. ISBN 91-7139-245-9 (In Swedish)