It’s deceptive, but this photo of a Sicilian girl isn’t a girl at all. It’s a boy, posing as a girl. German photographer Wilhelm Von Gloeden (1856-1931) took more than 3000 photographs in Sicily from the 1890s through to his death in 1931. Von Gloeden lived and worked in Taormina for most of his adult life. He photographed landscapes and pastoral portraits, documented events such as the 1908 earthquake in Messina, and produced photographic studies of nude Sicilian boys set in various scenes that recall Greek and Roman antiquity. And in the case of this photo, dressed them as girls to capture images of young women to add to his historic collection. Von Gloeden’s photos were (and are) quite controversial, and in 1933, Mussolini’s Fascist police confiscated and destroyed more than 2000 of his prints, citing them as pornographic.
Meanwhile today, when you are visiting Taormina, keep your eyes out for Von Gloeden’s photos on postcards, in books, and decorating the walls of bars and restaurants.