Gay Vacations in Rome, Italy

People dining al fresco in Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, Italy
People dining in Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, Italy (Gavin Hellier/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

Rome Highlights

  • Watch out for August. Romans abandon the city in August, it’s choked with tourists, the hot weather is insufferable, and many restaurants and hotels are closed.
  • Expect to buy a membership to get into gay bars and clubs. Although it’s changing, a lot of LGBT establishments are private clubs that require you to join the Italian gay organization called ARCIGAY.
  • Pack for warm weather. A Roman summer can easily hover in the 90s, and even in winter, temps are in the mild 50s.

Who would have guessed that the city where so much homosexual debauchery went on in times of yore would now be the seat of the Catholic Church? Throughout the ages, gays have left their lavender mark on The Eternal City—from Michelangelo’s extravagant Sistine Chapel to Emperor Hadrian’s statues of his buff lover Antinous. Nowadays, travelers may be surprised to find Rome as closeted as it is—especially compared to the out scene way north in Milan. Sure, cute gladiators in skirts may hang out to get their photo taken in front of the Coliseum, and naked male imagery seems to adorn every fountain, but it takes a detective to find Rome’s bars, appearing more as speakeasies than proud out establishments. However, the scene is much more open than it was even a few years ago—mainly due to the impact of World Pride, which descended upon the city in 2000.

No matter, Rome is justifiably one of the great cities in the world to visit, with more famous sites and experiences per square kilometer than you can shake a guidebook at. The list is legendary: strolling the Piazza della Repubblica, tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain, gazing up at the spooky rotunda of the Pantheon, thigh-busting on the steep Spanish Steps, jaw-dropping at the opulence of St. Peter's Basilica, and walking in the footsteps of giants at the ruins of the Forum. And don’t forget to peek your head in a few of the 20,000 or so churches around the city.

Rome has a distinct Mediterranean vibe that makes it feel a little slower and disconnected from the rest of modern Europe (despite the colossal traffic and honking Vespas everywhere). Maybe it’s simply the inescapable history around every corner. Rome’s gay and lesbian scene is friendly and hospitable, with more go-go boys and dark rooms than you’d think possible. A good chunk of the scene is found along the winding, medieval streets of the trendy Trastevere neighborhood near the city center. Rome’s gay pride celebration takes place in June, a great month for visiting the city.

Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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