Catterina Vizzani

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Stampa con Caterina Vizzani in abiti maschili

Catterina Vizzani, alias Giovanni Bordoni (1719–1743), was an Italian woman who disguised herself as a man.

Vizzani was born to a carpenter in Rome. She ran away from home to Viterbo, where she adopted male clothing and a new name: Giovanni Bordoni. Vizzani worked for a vicar in Perugia for four years. Following that position, she worked as a footman for the male noble Cavaliere Francesco Maria Pucci in Monte Pulciano. Vizzani was widely known for her love affairs with women and a reputed seducer. In 1743, she convinced the niece of a vicar to run away from home with her and marry her in Rome. They were stopped on the way, and during this detour, Vizzani was wounded. She eventually died of the wound. On her deathbed, she exposed her biological sex to a nun, and asked to be buried in women's clothing and be honored as a virgin. Her funeral was widely attended, as she was regarded as a woman who died for her virginity.

Vizzani became famous after the biography wish was published after her death: 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) by Giovanni Battista Bianchi (1681-1761), and which was also translated to English: The True History and Adventures of Catharine Vizzani (1751). The author, the surgeon Giovanni Battista Bianchi had performed an examination of her remains to establish if there were any physical explanation of her sexual orientation. This was the first English speaking study of female homosexuality.

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)