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Gay Travel


Because 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 homosexual lifestyles.

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.

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