Italy, a country renowned for its rich history, art, and impeccable cuisine, also holds a special allure for the LGBTQIA+ community. From the romantic canals of Venice to the vibrant streets of Rome, Italy offers a diverse range of experiences that celebrate love, acceptance, and inclusivity.

This was my first time to this captivating country, where each destination paints a unique picture of beauty, culture, and culinary delights.

 

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Venice

For my adventure, I began in the enchanting city of Venice, where every turn presents a picturesque moment. Opting to stay in the Venice Mestre area, near the main train station, I found convenient access to the heart of Venice and its canal scene. Instead of venturing into the touristy hotspots, the Mestre area provided a more affordable and authentic experience. I chose to stay at the conveniently located Meininger Hotel, offering great options for single travelers, groups, and families at heavily discounted prices compared to the touristy areas.

During my stay in Venice, I went on a free walking tour and immersed myself in the wonders of the canals, snacking on cicchetti (Venetian bar snacks) at local Bacaros (Venetian taverns) and exploring the captivating architecture and history of this unique floating city. Two nights here was the right amount of time to soak in the Venetian charm. 

 

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Florence

Upon arriving in Florence (2.5-hour train ride), I couldn't resist the allure of staying at a trendy and upscale hotel. I chose the 25hours Hotel Florence Piazza San Paolino, for its convenient location, perfectly situated to explore the best of what Firenze (a.k.a. Florence) has to offer. The hotel provided a comfortable base for my explorations, and its proximity to major attractions ensured I could easily dive into the city's electric atmosphere without wasting any time.

Neighboring my hotel were a string of museums, which house masterpieces from renowned artists like Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci (who left clues to his queer identity in his work). From the iconic Uffizi Gallery, which boasts a wealth of Renaissance art, to the Accademia Gallery, home to one of the most renowned artists in history, Michelangelo Buonarroti. It is said that Michaelangelo, the Italian sculptor, painter and architect was a gay man. His works—such as the statue of David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling—have left an indelible mark on art, culture, and LGBTQ+ history.

 

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When the sun sets, Florence comes alive with a buzzing nightlife that begins in the lobby of 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino. The kitschy atmosphere of the hotel bar attracts the local queer scene and spills out onto its cobbled streets. From quiet bars to trendy clubs, there's something for everyone in this city.

City Sightseeing provided an hour-long ride around the city, offering a helpful overview of the major landmarks and points of interest. I later revisited specific areas on a more immersive level, using an Uber bike to navigate the charming streets and squares.

 

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Rome

It takes about an hour and a half to travel by train from Florence to Rome (Roma). I was immediately greeted by the city's overwhelming crowds. Big Bus Tours offers sightseeing tours, and like Florence, I got my bearings and then explored the city on a bike.

Seeking respite on day 1 out of 5 days in Rome, I visited the 'Museum of Dreamers' to escape the hustle and bustle. While the long lines and pricey entrance fees for some of the galleries were unavoidable, the art, architecture, and Vatican City were undeniably captivating. Comfortable footwear and pre-booked massages were essential for navigating Rome! After a visit to the Colosseum, I wandered over to Rome's nearby LGBTQ+ street, which gives stunning views of this amazing landmark. 

 

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A short trip from Rome to Pisa provided a glimpse of the iconic Leaning Tower, but an hour was sufficient to take in the beauty. City Sightseeing offered a convenient option for exploring Naples and Pompeii, providing transportation and entry to Pompeii. The earliest example of the famous Roman bath (also known as bathhouses in Italy) can be found in Pompeii, which dates back to the 2nd century BCE.

As a vegan, I found the food in Italy to be excellent. Naples, renowned for its pizza, offered a must-try culinary experience. Venice introduced me to Cichetti, while Rome satisfied my sweet tooth with delightful fresh gelato. The exceptional cuisine alone would be enough to entice me to revisit these places in the future.

 

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IGLTA members offer a variety of LGBTQ+ experiences in Italy. Whether you're looking for food and wine vacations, luxury adventures, or sailing experiences, they provide unique and tailored LGBTQ+ travel opportunities in Italy. The country's culinary delights and rich LGBTQ+ history add an unforgettable dimension to any visit—I'll never forget my first time in Italy. Click here to view IGLTA’s LGBTQ+ Travel Guide to Italy.

 

Image credit and written by: Ray Si – IGLTA