It didn't start out well:
Roger e un ragazzo americano. Maria e una ragazza italiana. Roger e Maria sono amici. . .
Roger is an American boy visiting Italy. He goes to a café and tries to pick up a local girl. In the first lesson we learned “What is your name?”, "Your country is beautiful," and "How old are you."
Roger learns the time so he won’t be late for the cinema, learns the names of food so he can order in the restaurant, gets an overview of national history as they tour the museums. In Chapter 10, we learn the Italian word for "kiss" (bacio).
Why do even language-learning dialogues have to be about a boy and a girl? No men in Italy?
I knew about Thomas Mann's gay obsession in Death in Venice, and about Wilhelm Van Gloeden's homoerotic photographs of Sicilian youth, but they were German.
1. Leonardo Da Vinci. He got a girlfriend on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
2. Michelangelo. As portrayed by Charleton Heston in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), he got a girlfriend.
3. Donatello, who sculpted the famously effeminate David, a counterpart to Michelangelo's more macho version.
4. Benvenuto Cellini. His Autobiography was on the list of recommended readings in my class in Renaissance History in college. But not a word in class.
6. Aretino, who wrote Il Marescalco, about a gay man forced to marry a woman, but she turns out to be a man.
7. Ariosto. I bought his Orlando Furioso in a Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition, but had no idea.
9. Dante. Ok, he was probably heterosexual, and from the Middle Ages, but he wrote the beefcake and bonding classic, The Inferno.
10. The painter Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, nicknamed "Il Sodoma"
11. Giovanni, the foreign exchange student I had a crush on at Rocky High. I spent the whole year imagining a tearful and sexy reuninon.
Forget the Romantic poets -- when I went back to graduate school for my doctorate, I would major in the Renaissance!