Although references to male same-sex practices are rare in medieval Italy, discussion of female same-sex desire is virtually nonexistent. One exception to that rule is a story in the collection of narratives by Giovanni Sercambi (1348–1424). A bawdy tale, it relates how an abbess initiated novices by having sex with them, but her plans are disrupted when a young man disguises himself and enters the convent. It cannot be taken as historical documentation of actual practices, as it undoubtedly represents a fantasy composed for humorous effect. Nonetheless, through all its distortions, Sercambi's story evokes the possibility of female same-sex practices at a time when discourse on such matters was negligible.
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