Gay life in Italy
Italy is the country of artistic genius. The main towns and cities have all been blessed by some controversial artists, who left vivid proofs of his/her passionate souls. A ‘fil rouge’ binds some major art names to Italian renowned places such as Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Taormina (Sicily). Following this ‘fil rouge’, untold histories come to evidence: many major artists expressed their homosexuality (or bisexuality) in masterpieces, such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome or Leonardo’s portrait of his scholar Salai in Milan. And not only: even the Roman Vatican Museum witnesses how well-veiled sexual ambiguity comes up in statues and paintings. Not mentioning great politicians, such as Emperor Hadrian, who dedicated an entire villa to his favourite friend and lover, Antinoo in Tivoli, near Rome. Florence witnesses the controversial Renaissance life-style, with Leonardo’s and Donatello’s masterpieces. Not forgetting the ‘illegal’ quarter of ‘La Baldracca’ which nested the luxurious and lavish moments of the ‘Medici’s’ town. Verona, town of Romeo and Juliet- but also the birthplace of the Roman poet Catullus, whose bisexuality animated all his poems. He loved Clodia and Joventius at the same time and his house in Sirmione, ‘Catullus’ Grottoes’, is still visible, just on the Garda Lake. Venice, the first Italian town which accepted homosexuality in the 18th century, was the birthplace of the greatest lover in history, Casanova, but also the inspirational setting of ‘Death in Venice’, by Thomas Mann. Here, the writer tells about his love story with a young man, who disregarded him and led to a complete and final frustration of his soul. Again, in Southern Italy, Naples and Taormina. The National Museum in Naples gathers brilliant homoerotic statues of Greek and Roman manufacturing: Harmodios and Aristogeiton statues, in homoerotic pose, were the founders of the Athenian democracy. The town itself is a rich example of gay life and colorful Renaissance. Not forgetting the island of Capri, jetset of European and American celebrities after the 2nd World War. Finally, Taormina, in Sicily: photographer and painter Van Gloeden transformed the 20th century village in a temple of homoerotic sensuality, as his villa on the sea still witnesses.
Italy is a ‘melting pot’ of art and culture, which has gone through centuries of obscurantism… But artists have given light to human minds, even when putting themselves to risk. Their courage is our richness today and their suffering our inspiration for a better future.
The Italian National Tourist Board is excited to announce that Milan was chosen as the site for the IGLTA 2020, the prestigious LGBT tourism convention. The choice of Milan is an important acknowledgement for the commitment shown by The Italian National Tourist Board in 2017 in favor of LGBT tourism in Italy, from its membership to IGLTA International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association – as Silver Partner to its participation in the 2018 Annual Global Conference held in Toronto, Canada. The IGLTA Convention will bring to Milan and Italy more than 400 tour operators and representatives from international public institutions.
The choice of Milan reaffirms the commitment of The Italian National Tourist Board, in concert with several Italian LGBT associations and regional administrations – to strengthen Italy’s gay-friendly image in an effort to gain positions in the ranking of LGBT destinations and attract more LGBT travelers to our country, which ranks first as a desired destination, but fifth as destination actually chosen. I would like to personally thank IGLTA and its board of directors for choosing Italy. I and my associates, in the US and Italy, look forward to a long and productive collaboration.
– Giovanni Bastianelli
FRIENDLY PIEMONTE, a project promoted by the non-profit organization Quore, supported by the Piemonte Region with the collaboration of the City of Torino aims to: improve the number of Italian and international travelers visiting Torino and Piemonte; strengthen the relationship between local institutions and tourism industry; increase awareness of LGBT rights. Some of the city’s most famous landmarks are the renowned Egyptian Museum (the second biggest in the world), the National Cinema Museum inside the Mole Antonelliana, some of Italy’s best historic cafés and chocolate and pastry shops. The city is home to a vibrant gay-friendly nightlife and clubs such as the Queever, one of the most original clubs in Europe. Some of the trendiest areas of the city are Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the Murazzi on the Po River, Borgo Dora, Vanchiglia and the Roman Quarter. Torino hosts TGLFF Gay&Lesbian Film Festival, one of the most important in the world organized every year in May while in June the city welcomes the busiest national Gay Pride Parade, taking place this year on June 23th.
Its not just famous for its monuments and its thousand year-old history, but also for its dynamism and its countless opportunities to enjoy the movida, from bars where you can taste the famous “Aperitivo Milanese”, to clubs where people can dance until the crack of dawn. On the cutting edge of architecture, fashion and design, the City of the Madonnina is one of the cities with the widest variety of LGBT friendly clubs in Italy, widespread throughout the city but mostly grouped near the Porta Venezia District.
“If you love someone take them to Verona” is the Valentine’s Day slogan for the city of Romeo and Juliet, one of Italy’s most gay-friendly cities. With its neoclassical buildings and monumental squares, the old medieval quarters and the courtyard of the old market all the way to the famous Juliet’s Balcony, Verona is the city of lovers. Take a stroll to Piazza Bra to admire the Roman Amphitheatre and on to the monumental San Zeno Altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna continuing to Porta Nuova, in the historic center with the elegant Lucla Cafe, a gay-friendly hang out and the perfect place for an aperitif. For a typical Venetian dinner you should enjoy a plate of hand-made pasta or risotto with Lessinia truffles. After a wonderful meal why not dance the calories away at Romeo’s nightclub in the Porta Vescovo area. The club organizes LGBT evenings with performances of Gogo Boys and drag queens. February 11-14 the city hosts the “Verona in Love” event.
Bologna is known as being traditionally a very welcoming city, open to diversity in gender and culture. Since the ’70s new clubs have opened where the LGBT community could meet, organize cultural events and go for entertainment and nightlife. The dialogue between the city and the LGBT community is still open and is part of the city’s cultural richness. Via del Pratello reflects in the best way the atmosphere of the 70’s and 80’s; most bars are gay friendly and a fun destination for an evening out. Another must-see is the Stefano Casagrande Gardens in Via Calori/Via Graziano/Viale Silvani, dedicated to one of the biggest activists of the LGBT movement in Bologna: Stefano Casagrande, artist, stage designer and performer, one of founders of the KGB&B. Via Zamboni n. 1 hosts the Kinky Club, a historic meeting place of the LGBTQI community, founded in the 70s as one of the first clubs to welcome without any prejudice the LGBTQI community. The club remains one of the most open and friendly towards the homosexual and transsexual community of the city.
TORRE DEL LAGO (LUCCA)
It is a very gay-friendly location in Italy to rival Sitges and Mykonos and it’s in beautiful Tuscany. Torre del Lago is a small town immersed in the lush landscape of San Rossore and Massaciuccoli Park and steeped in culture, being the birthplace of famed music composer Giacomo Puccini and home to the famous “Festival Pucciniano”. Small and charming, Torre del Lago affords travelers everything needed for a fun and relaxing vacation: campsites, B&B’s, hotels, pubs, restaurants, bars. Rent a bike to reach everything, from the shops, to the beach, to the disco for a fun filled day into the night
With its many gay clubs, discos, B&B’s and beaches, the city offers a wide choice to anyone wanting to make the most of their holiday. For travelers looking to have fun in one of Rome’s most beautiful districts near the Colosseum, Via San Giovanni in Laterano, the so-called Gay Street, is a must: gay-friendly bars, clubs and restaurants all make for a social evening. Not to be missed is the Gay Village, one of the most important events hosted by the city every summer, which attracts thousands of people. Don’t miss out on a beautiful day in the sun on one of the beaches outside Rome at Ostia or Capocotta, well served areas with facilities (beach chairs, umbrellas, restaurants). Another must-do event is the Gay Pride Parade, which usually takes place in June and includes a march with tens of thousands of people to draw attention to the issue of civil rights.
Over the last few years Naples has become one of the favorite destinations for Italian and international travelers alike interested in the arts. Naples’s distinctive mark is its folklore: people living and working among the artistic beauties of the city, as if in an open air museum. The strength of Naples as a travel destination has had an important positive impact on the economy of the city as well. So, welcome to Naples! We wish you a great stay and we hope you will make tons of wonderful memories to take back home with you.
Gallipoli has become a top gay destination often referred to as the Italian Ibiza, featuring a vibrant gay nightlife which makes it the capital of Gay Salento, the area at the southern end of Puglia. The beauty of its beaches is a main draw. From Punta della Suina, located at the southern-most point of the astonishing Baia Verde, south of Gallipoli, there is an easy walk to the G Beach, the only 100% gay-friendly private beach in the Salento with friendly people and relaxing chill out music. If you prefer a more chilled environment, worry not: around G Beach there are plenty of spots for a relaxing and chill day at the beach. Get there early to find the perfect spot! And when you’re ready to take a break from the sun, a refreshing walk in the pinewoods just behind the beach is all you need
It is a young and dynamic city, which boasts an active gay scene thanks to its many shops, pubs and bars. The historical gay hangout in Catania city center is Via Alessi, around Nievki: a bar and an alternative restaurant which has been welcoming to LGBT people since the ‘70s. In addition to the historic Baroque buildings, it derives its appeal from the splendid views of Mount Etna, the volcano that rises above the Catania surroundings. In 2002 the Baroque historic center of Catania was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Mount Etna received the same honor in 2013. For over twenty years between late June and early July, the city is flooded by the colors of the rainbow flag with a series of initiatives crowning in the traditional Catania Gay Pride Parade.
It is one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Sicily, an ideal destination year round, thanks to the mild climate and the offer focused on fun, relaxation and joie de vivre as well as the warm hospitality of the Sicilian people. Known as “the Pearl of the Mediterranean”, Taormina is located on a natural terrace above the sea. The Greek Theatre is one of the most suggestive spots, in a fantastic position offering a stunning view on the gulf and Mount Etna. The outdoor theatre is still used today to host various performances. The town of Taormina is best visited on foot: walking along the streets full of shops and charming panoramic spots, restaurants and food shops where one can enjoy some delicious Sicilian specialties, all the way to the Church of San Nicola, the main church in Taormina. Some of the most popular spots are the beaches at Giardini Naxos and Mazzarò, while Isola Bella is a protected natural oasis surrounded by clear blue water where swimming is a pleasure.