of its rich history, exquisite art and delectable cuisine, Italy
is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. However, the
real treasures of Italy are not found inside museums or between
the pages of a book. The treasures of Italy can be seen in the streets
- the real pride of Italy is their people.
Italians probably have the best outlook in life
(remember La Dolce Vita?) and with it exudes the charm that is unmistakably
theirs. Italians are an affectionate people and they are not ashamed
to show this side in public. This is probably one of the reasons
why Italy is one of the prime destinations for couples -- young,
old, rich, poor, straight and even gay.
Italy's tolerance and acceptance of gay
couples can be traced back through history. The first proof of gay
lifestyle in Italy can be seen through the cave paintings from Italy's
Val Camonica region where sex between men is depicted. During ancient
times, homosexual relationships were also prevalent. Common pairs
then included masters and slaves or teachers and pupils. This went
on even during the Renaissance when artists openly practiced their
Due to the Vatican's location and influence
in Italy, it has taken the culture time to accept the homosexual
lifestyle. Although gay demonstrations and Gay Pride events were
held in Italy, it was not until the Gay World Pride in 2000 that
things changed. Held within Rome, more than 500,000 people gathered
and openly celebrated their sexuality. This gave the gay and lesbian
Italian community the impetus to be more active.
Gay travellers will find an interesting choice
of nightlife, especially in the big cities. Gay people usually gather
in public venues like bars and clubs, sometimes even in saunas.
In the summer, gay beaches, are a hangout for gay tourists. Milan,
Rome, Bologna, Padua and Florence are some of the cities where there
is a strong gay and lesbian presence.
Italy also has several events that cater to the
Gay community. In Tuscany, the schedule of activities at "Friendly
Versilia" a small "village" that serves the gay
and lesbian community is usually full from April until September.
Rome allocates an area in the Testaccio for the entertainment of
gay people from June to September. This area, full of bars, discos,
restaurants and open-air theaters, is called Gay Village.
Then there is also a series of Gay Film Festivals. The first of
which is the Turin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in
April, followed by the "Festival del Cinema Gay Lesbico e
della Cultura Queer" at Milan, the most gay-friendly city
in Italy in May, and capped off by the Florence Queer Festival,
at Florence in June.