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three pairs of lovers with space



Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798) was a Venetian adventurer and writer best-known for his amorous exploits recounted in his memoir written in French and to which he gave alternate titles, Histoire de ma vie jusqu’à l’an 1797 (History of my Life until the year 1797) and Histoire de Jacques Casanova de Seingalt[1], venitien, ecrite parlui meme à Dux en Boheme (History of James Casanova of Seingalt, Venetian, written by himself at Dux in Bohemia).

“The Memoirs of Casanova are not only the most complete and detailed picture of the customs and conditions of a society in the century preceding the French Revolution, but are as well a mirror of the life of the State and its various divisions—in short, the innermost secrets of the life of an era.”[2] Moreover, his travels extended over a vast swathe of Europe stretching from Madrid to Moscow and Constantinople.

Casanova finished writing his memoir in 1797, when he was seventy-two, but he never managed to take them beyond the summer of 1774. Though written in French, then the foremost language of Europe, extracts were only first published in German translation in 1822, and then in other languages. The first accurate and complete edition was published in the original French in 1960 and was translated by Willard R. Trask as History of My Life, published in New York by Harcourt, Brace & World in 1966-71, from which the extracts presented on this website are taken.

Presented here is everything of Greek love interest, a tiny fraction of the total. Casanova was open, frank and exhaustive in describing the overwhelming majority of his sexual experiences that were with females, but covert, circumspect and oblique when it came to describing any homosexual encounters, especially his own.[3]

Volume I

Chapter VI

Casanova by his bro. Francesco ca. 1753
Casanova by his brother Francesco, ca. 1753

Casanova Caught with a Boy in his Bed, 1743

Casanova describes how, just before he reached eighteen, he was sent to the Venetian seminary of San Cipriano where a handsome boy of fifteen “inspired feelings of the strongest friendship in me”. They shared a bed at night for fun, but Casanova was expelled when another boy was found in his bed, though he claimed they had done nothing together.


Chapter VIII

Casanova was travelling between Cosenza in Calabria and Naples, which he reached on 16th September 1743.

I had five traveling companions who struck me from the first as being pirates or professional thieves, so I was careful never to let them see that I had a well-filled purse. I always slept with my breeches on, not only for the safety of my money but as a precaution I thought necessary in a country where unnatural desires are common.[4]

Volume II

Chapters I-II

Casanova, the “Castrato” and her Sisters, 1744

Casanova describes how he fell in love with Bellino, a claimed castrato, aged fifteen, whom he suspected was really a girl. While trying to satiate his curiosity and become intimate with him, he also observed Bellino’s apparent brother, who made himself available to men, and his younger sisters, aged twelve and eleven with whom he made love in turn.

Volume IV

Chapter XIII

In November 1755, Casanova was in the prison of the Leads under the Doge of Venice’s palace, to which he had been sentenced to five years there for atheism in September.

At the end of the rat-infested garret, I saw […] a great pile of notebooks. I took ten or twelve of them to read for diversion. They were all criminal cases, which I found most entertaining, for I was free to read what in its time must have been highly secret. I saw [amongst many other scandalous matters, mostly sexual] facts about […] schoolmasters convicted of pederasty […]; some of them dated back two or three centuries, the style and the customs of which gave me a few hours of pleasure.”

Casanovas spectaculae escape from The Leads prison 31 10 1756
                             Casanova's spectacular escape from The Leads in Venice, 31 October 1756

Volume VII

Chapter Eight

The Corticelli Boy, 1761

Casanova recounts how in Florence he met a 13-year-old ballerina, whose mother then tried to tempt him with not only the girl, but with her pretty brother, evidently accustomed to making himself available to men.

Chapters Eight to Nine

Winckelmann and a Boy Interrupted, 1761

Casanova recounts how he got to know the pre-eminent art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann in Rome and stumbled on him having sex with a boy.

Chapter Eleven

On Men’s Attraction to Castrati, 1761

Casinova’s observations of the broad sexual appeal he witnessed of a castrato on the stage leads to both reflections and exchanges on it between himself and a boysexual.

Chapter Twelve

On Turin, the capital of Savoy, where Casanova spent the spring of 1761:

Turin is the city of Italy in which the sex has all the charms for which love can hope, but in which the police are the most troublesome; and, the city being small and very populous, the spies know everything; […] Neither public prostitutes nor kept women are allowed there, which is most gratifying to the married women, as the ignorant police should have foreseen. For the same reason the devotees of the wristband game[5] make holiday there.

Turin. The Lottery Drawing in Piazza Delle Erbe by Giovanni Michele Granieri 1756
           The Lottery Drawing in Piazza Delle Erbe, Turin by Giovanni Michele Granieri, 1756


Volume IX

Chapter Eleven

In September 1763, Casanova was staying in London and being severely swindled over several weeks by a French criminal family calling themselves Charpillon who dangled their sixteen-year-old beauty Marianne (called “La Charpillon” by Casanova) as a bait to rob and extort money from interested men. The following recounts one of the Charpillons’ many ploys against Casanova. André Goudar was a card sharp they all had dealings with.

Just as I was going out, Goudar arrived and told me to go back upstairs, for he had something important to say to me. After telling me La Charpillon was at home, and, having one cheek swollen and black, let no one see her, he advised me to send her her trunk and to give up any claims I might have upon her mother, for she was in the right and determined to ruin me by a calumny which could both ruin me and cost me my life. The reader can easily imagine its nature,[6] and everyone knows how easy it is to make it effectual in London. He said he had been urged by the mother herself, who did not want to injure me, to act as mediator.


Volume X

Chapters Five to Seven

Casanova in Russia, 1764-5

Soon after arriving in Russia for a stay of ten months, Casanova bought from her parents a beautiful girl of twelve, who served as his passionate mistress.  This did not, however, deter him from erotic dalliance with an aristocratic boy of seventeen who was "pretty as a girl".


Chapter Eight

The Abate Bastiani, 1766

Arriving in the Prussian city of Breslau, Casanova introduced himself to the Abate Bastiani, who was in love with another Italian abate, aged fifteen.

Chapter Eleven

In 1767, Casanova went to stay in Spa in the autonomous bishopric of Liège:

Spa engraved by H. J. Godin 1782
                                                              Spa, engraved by H. J. Godin, 1782

The person whom I was delighted to see in Spa was the Marchese Caraccioli,[7] whom I had left in London. He had obtained a leave of absence from his Court, and he was amusing himself in Spa. He was a man of sound intelligence, kind, humane, compassionate, a friend to youth—male or female, he did not care—but not in excess.


Volume XI

Chapter Nine

The Prince of Francavilla and his Catamites, 1770.

Casanova and distinguished company dined at the villa of the boysexual Prince of Francavilla in the Bay of Naples. Amongst the entertainments, the Prince had his charming catamites of 15 to 17 swim naked for them in a pool.


Volume XII

Chapter One

In September 1770, Casanova, now aged forty-five, settled in Rome for ten months. Soon after arriving, he seduced his landlady’s daughter sixteen- or seventeen-year-old daughter Margherita Poletti. She confided in him that she and her friend La Buonaccorsi, whom Casanova also went on to enjoy, had both lost her virginity to the same boy, Marcuccio.

Casanova at 63 from his Icosameron
Casanova in his 63rd year, from his Icosaméron, 1787

The two girls introduced me to the young hero who had had to art to seduce them both. He was a tailor’s apprentice fifteen years of age, handsome, short, but so generously endowed by nature that I had to say they were right when I saw the object the sight of which had deprived them of the power to resist. The youth was very well-mannered; I found in him a refinement which declared him to be above his station. He loved neither Margherita nor La Buonaccorsi. Seeing them together, and hence without constraint, he had thought they were curious about what they did not see, and he had satisfied their curiosity. But the satisfaction of their sight was followed by desires for something more tangible; the youth became aware of it, and, being polite and magnanimous, he took the first step by offering them everything in his power. Thereupon the two girls consulted together, and pretending only to humor him, obtained the enjoyment of the splendid object.

Loving them both, and feeling the greatest friendship for the youth, I often arranged to have the pleasure of watching him performing amorous exploits, very glad to see that, instead of being jealous of his enjoyment and his abilities, I felt their beneficent influence to the point of sharing in the festivities with an increase in enjoyment which the sight of the youth, handsomer than Antinoüs,[8] procured me.


Rough Notes

Casanova made rough notes in preparation for his memoir. They were discovered by Marco Leeflang in the library at the castle of Dux in Bohemia, where Casanova spent his last years as the librarian, and are now preserved in the Prague State Archives. They include these headings which he made no use of in his memoir, apparently as an act of self-censorship:

Mon amour du Giton du Duc d’Elbeuf (My love for the Giton of the Duke of Elbeuf)[9]
Pédérastie avec Bazin, et ses sœurs (Pederasty with Bazin, and his sisters)
Pédérastie avec X à Dunkerke (Pederasty with X at Dunkirk)[10]


[1] Casanova started using the title of Chevalier de Seingalt in 1760. He was known as such by all his French friends, including those in the high nobility, so it is likely the title was genuine, conferred on him at the same time that he was naturalised French (from the translator’s note 42 to Chapter VII of Volume IX).

[2] Friedrich Wilhelm Barthold, Die Geschichtlichen Persönlichkeiten in Jacob Casanovas Memoiren (Berlin, 1846), 2.

[3] This applies equally to his flings with boys and to his single sexual contact with a man. The latter, which took place in Constantinople in 1745, was with a Turk, Ismail Effendi, who may have regarded the twenty-year-old Casanova as a boy (II p. 95 in Trask’s translation). For the reader interested in all that Casanova wrote about sex between other men, he described a bisexual orgy he witnessed  in Rome in 1761, but refused to take part in himself (VII 242-7), he heard about Frederick the Great being pedicated (X pp. 77 and 208), and an androphile sodomite called Albergoni told him his story (XI, pp. 275-8).

[4] Casanova was eighteen, hence why he could expect to be the object of the “unnatural desires” so commonplace in southern Italy.

[5] [French] text, le manège de la manchette = pederasty [Translator’s note 19].

[6] Calumny … imagine its nature: Probably Casanova was to be accused of pederasty, which in England was then punishable by death.  [Translator’s note 33]

[7] Domenico Caraccioli, Marchese di Villa Marina (1715-1789), Envoy Extraordinary of the Kingdom of Naples in Paris (1752-1754), in Turin (1754-1763), and in London (1764-1774); in 1780 he was made Viceroy of Sicily, and in 1786 Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. [Translator’s note 3 to Chapter I of Volume X]

[8] A beautiful Greek youth from Claudiopolis in Bithynia, favourite of the Emperor Hadrian;  he was drowned in the Nile in A. D. 130. [Translator’s note 43].

[9] Giton was a wanton and alluring boy in Petronius’s 1st century AD novella, the Satyricon, and the prototype of boys who made themselves available to men.  By implication, Casanova is referring to the kept boy of Emmanuel Maurice de Lorraine, Duke of Elboef (1677-1763), the modern discoverer of the ancient ruins at Herculaneum and Pompeii near Naples. [Website footnote]

[10] The rough notes are now in the Prague State Archives, catalogued as Marr Collection 31-61 (https://gallica.bnf.fr/essentiels/casanova/histoire-vie/construction-recit).