Everyone is dazzled by a rainbow! Everyone is captivated by its riot of colour that radiate across the sky and are lost in the horizon… Over the centuries, many legends have sprung up around the rainbow, to which each culture has assigned a different meaning: for the Greeks it was known as Iris, the messenger of the gods; in the Hindu religion it was Indra, the god of weather and rain; in northern mythology the rainbow is the ‘bifrost’, the bridge connecting the realm of earth to the abode of the gods. The colours of the rainbow also inspired the artist Gilbert Baker, a former army veteran who, as a gay activist, created the first ‘rainbow’ flag of eight colours for the San Francisco Pride Parade on 25 June 1978. Splendid rainbows can also be admired after a storm on Elba and on the isles of the Tuscan Archipelago, “lands” surrounded by the sea that today provide the ideal destination for those wishing to seal a dream of love. Although islanders are generally thought to be closed-minded, in reality, their way of thinking, especially in recent times, has evolved, demonstrating more and more open-mindedness and the ability to relate to any kind of diversity, without prejudice. It could not be otherwise, considering the many peoples and dynasties that have succeeded one another here over the centuries: from the Etruscans to the Romans, from the Arabs to the Spanish, from the French to the English… from the Medici to the House of Lorraine, from the Appianis to the Boncompagni Ludovisi family, cultures that have written the history of Elba and of the “big family” of the Tuscan Archipelago.
It has to be said that Elba and Tuscany have moved with the times. It is no coincidence that Florence was the first city to abolish the death penalty, under the Grand Duke Leopold I in 1786, and in 1853 with Leopold II all punishments for homosexuality were abolished. Even earlier, the de’ Medicidynasty which held the reins of the city from the 15th to the 18th centuries, and which promoted art, culture and tolerance, chose as its representatives several figures who were definitely homosexual: Pope Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici, 1475-1521), Ferdinando II (1610-1670) and Giovanni Gastone de’ Medici (1671-1737). There were also ‘maps’ of places where homosexual encounters could take place in 15th- and 16th-century Florence. Returning to the subject of Elba, surely the best training ground for diversity was the tourism to which we were converted in the sixties! (1) In 1548, Cosimo I de’ Medici had the city of Cosmopoli, now known as Portoferraio, built for strategic military reasons. To build the fortified city, Cosimo employed the best architects, including Giovanni Battista Bellucci who, with the help of other valuable collaborators, built palisades, embankments, walls and curtain walls, making the city one of the safest ports in the Mediterranean.
Today the Tuscan isles, animated by a strong sense of tolerance and freedom of thought, are ready to welcome the LGBT+ community. (2) Today, finally, thanks to Italian Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 (Regulation of civil unions between persons of the same sex and regulation of cohabitation), people in Italy can marry their partners regardless of their sex. In light of the above, it is no coincidence that Riccardo and Roberto, one from Prato and the other from Vicenza, have chosen Elba as their home. The two young men, who arrived on the isle a few years ago to begin a seasonal job, were immediately welcomed by the “ferraiese” community (3) with such great warmth and friendliness that they instantly felt at home, and honorary Elba islanders. “Captivated” by the hospitality and authenticity typical of us islanders, as well as by the beautiful landscape of our territory, Riccardo and Roberto chose Elba not only as the ideal place to live but also as the “Place of the Heart” where they could make their dream come true: to get married. And that’s exactly what they did! Last October, the two lovers, surrounded by a large group of friends and in an atmosphere of great collective joy and euphoria, happily got married. The civil ceremony and celebrations took place in the beautiful setting of Schiopparello, a country resort overlooking the sea, in the “I Sassi” farm (owned by Angelo Feola) managed by Dimitri Galletti of Azienda agricola Montefabbrello.
1) In 1548, Cosimo I de’ Medici had the city of Cosmopoli, now known as Portoferraio, built for strategic military reasons. To build the fortified city, Cosimo employed the best architects, including Giovanni Battista Bellucci who, with the help of other valuable collaborators, built palisades, embankments, walls and curtain walls, making the city one of the safest ports in the Mediterranean.
2) “LGBT+ community” is a kind of umbrella term that refers to all people with a sexual identity that does not conform to culturally shared models. The first two letters are perhaps the best known and refer to people with a homosexual orientation, L stands for lesbian and G stands for gay, B stands for bisexual, T stands for transgender, and finally the symbol + stands for the other letters, (each of which expresses a sexual orientation), which have been added over time. The LGBT+ traveller can find valid support at AITGL – Associazione Italiana del Turismo Gay & Lesbian, a non-profit association set up in 2009, whose primary objectives include making Italy an increasingly welcoming country, by providing tourist information, assistance – including legal assistance – and dedicated services.
3) Local slang for saying that a person is from Portoferraio