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Travel - Go South Italie

by Ron Meijer in Travel and weekendtrips , 25 september 2007

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar


ITALIAN GAY HISTORY

Cave paintings from the Val Camonica region of Italy depict sex between men dating back over eight thousand years. And - we can say - since then, Italy has always been a perfect spot for gay tourists from all over the world. In ancient times, Homosexual relationships were common among Roman citizens, particularly between masters and slaves or teachers and pupils, just like in Greek culture. Then, in the Renaissance, some very important gay people have drawn public attention on the homosexual behaviour: we can remember Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Pontormo, Caravaggio, and other immortal artists who were definitely in love with other men.


Since the Vatican is in Italy, the Italian society has been very strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, that prevented it to become more tolerant. In 1972 the very first gay demonstration took place in Sanremo, and since 1988 a national Gay Pride has been organized each year in a different town of the country. But it was the Gay World Pride 2000 in Rome that really made the things change: about 500,000 people gathered and marched through the Eternal City, challenging the efforts made by the Catholic Church to prevent the demonstration. Newpapers, tv shows, radios could not ignore the event, that made the gay and lesbian Italian community more visible and active.

Few countries match its wealth of pleasures and treasures like Italy: history, art, music, fashions, and food. Yet the greatest pleasures here are the Italians themselves. They not only possess the world's greatest outlook on life (La Dolce Vita), but are the essence of Mediterranean dark and sexy. While Italy's primary appeal is its history and culture, gay travelers will find a limited but interesting choice of nightlife spots, particularly in the big cities. They provide fun nighttime diversion, and a glimpse into the challenges faced by Italian gay women and men, as they begin to express their sexual identity within the confines of a family and church dominated society.


Italians are more affectionate and physical than other people in their general friendships, and even straight men regularly walk down the street with their arms around each other - however, kissing anywhere other than on the cheeks at greetings and goodbyes will certainly draw attention. As you might expect, smaller towns tend to be less permissive and accepting than cities.

Usually, gay people gather in public venues like bars and clubs, and even smaller towns in nothern and central Italy have one. Many gay men use to meet in country cruisings, like little woods, streets around the railway station, or in services areas along the highway. To get informed about the habitudes in the specific town you are going to visit, you can contact local associations.

In Summer, many gay beaches gets very crowdy all over the country. Usually, their are located in special places, not so easy to reach. Bars, discos and saunas for a gay & lesbian clientele are now present almost anywhere in Italy but surely are more numerous up north than in the middle and south. Towns with a stronger presence of gays and lesbian are Milan and Rome followed by Bologna, Padoa and Florence. In summertime, Torre del Lago, Tuscany, is crowded with thousands of tourists coming from anywhere in Italy especially at week-ends and in all the month of August (Italian holiday season).




LEGAL TIPS AND HOMOPHOBIA

Even if Italy isn't the most tolerant country regarding same-sex couples, due to the hard influence of the Vatican, it has grown to accept homosexuality, especially over the past few decades. Homosexuality is legal since 1889, and the age of consent is 16. It is of course forbidden to have sex in public, and even hard petting can be badly considered by officials in some cases. No law has been passed to recognized same-sex couple, but in some towns there are registered civil partnerships that give no special right to the couple.

Notwithstanding, Italy remains a favorite romantic destination for gay women and men. It is rather common to see openly gay couples walking down the streets in big cities like Rome, Milan, Florence, though university cities like Pisa also take gayness in stride. But be careful, in smaller towns it can be more dangerous to be too jaunty in public venues.




GAY EVENTS

Friendly Versilia - April-September


Tuscany has always been very welcoming towards gays and lesbians. "Friendly Versilia" is a project started in 1998 with the aim of giving visibility to the large and still hidden GLBT community in Torre del Lago, a nice town between waters, those of the sea and those of Massaciuccoli Lake, between Viareggio and Pisa.

The project was created by the GLBT local switchboard, supported by the local Municipality and sponsored by gay and gay-friendly business.

No matter the difficulties and the hard times, Friendly Versilia is today able to attract over 100.000 homosexuals both men and women from all Europe, from the last week of April until the first week of September.

The Lecciona beach will not only surprise you for its beauty and expanse but also for the huge crowd of gays and lesbians that do gather here every summer. Lots of either gay or gay-friendly B&Bs both in Viareggio and Torre del Lago, campings and many other accomodations.

The promenade of Torre del Lago is packed with restaurants, pubs, disco-pubs and a lot more; The famous italian Mardi Gras is annualy hosted on this beautiful promenade and gathers thousands of members of the GLBT community.

Presented by Fabio Canino, hylarious and sharp Radio and Tv star, Mardi Gras is a great occasion to come to visit Torre del Lago and enjoy each night of your stay. Mardi Gras is not the only occasion though, calendar is rich in events from April until September.






 







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