Experience the cultural diversity, historic charm, and vibrant spirit of Italy through a unique lens by embarking on an LGBTQ+ tour. From the southern coasts of Sicily to the northern reaches of Lombardy, Italy is a treasure trove of LGBTQ+ history and culture.
This article explores the best urban LGBTQ+ tours in Italy, focusing on the cities of Palermo, Taormina, Vatican City, Venice, Rome, Milan, and Crema. Each city offers distinctive attractions and experiences, tracing the influence and impact of the LGBTQ+ community on Italy’s history and culture.
Taormina: Relishing in the LGBTQ+ Scenes from ‘The White Lotus’
Immerse yourself in the vibrant allure of Taormina. This city’s bright charisma shines through in ‘The White Lotus’ with its cinematic locations offering an engaging backdrop to its story. The majestic San Domenico Palace Hotel, the ancient Greek theater, the panoramic piazzetta, pastel-colored dwellings, and charming cafés all play their part in bringing this quaint city to life.
Unravel the romance and drama of the movie by following in the footsteps of the characters. Discover the majestic Greek Theater and the iconic piazzetta. You might even feel compelled to strike up a conversation in this cozy meeting point that features prominently in the film.
Then, travel by funicular to Mazzarò, the small bay from where you’ll embark on a one-hour boat tour to Isola Bella. This tiny island, a part of an archaeological park, boasts a villa surrounded by a botanical museum.
Embrace the historic city of Palermo, where LGBTQ+ culture blends seamlessly with the rich cultural heritage left by the Normans, Arabs, Byzantines, and Romans. An urban setting overflowing with beauty and culture, Palermo is brought to life in the gripping series, ‘The White Lotus’. It is a city that has always upheld a sense of inclusion, with its streets and alleys often bearing names in Latin, Arabic, and Jewish, a testament to the diversity that once thrived here.
Enveloped in a grand display of baroque art, Palermo’s city center is a vision. Notable highlights include the Byzantine cathedral and the enchanting ‘Piazza Quattro Canti’ with its striking Pretoria Fountain, also named the ‘Shame Fountain’ because of its provocative naked statues.
A particular tour highlight includes a visit to the Teatro Massimo – Politeama. This theater, renowned for its lyrical performances, was featured in ‘The White Lotus’. Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his gay friends take Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) to the opera to see Madama Butterfly by Puccini in episode 5.
A visit to Palermo would be incomplete without a stroll through the open markets of Vucciria and Ballarò. These markets, reminiscent of Arabic souks, bustle with the energy of vendors selling fresh Mediterranean produce and seafood.
Vatican City: Appreciating Queer Artists in the Heart of Catholicism
Vatican City, the world’s smallest sovereign state and the spiritual center of Roman Catholicism, might seem an unlikely place for LGBTQ+ histories. Yet, its long and complex past has concealed layers of intriguing stories, particularly in relation to queer culture.
One of the most fascinating figures you’ll come across on a tour in Vatican City is Pope Julius III. His pontificate in the mid-16th century was riddled with scandal, notably his close relationship with Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte, a teenage beggar he adopted and subsequently made a cardinal. The nature of their bond remains a subject of historical speculation and debate.
Next, the tour takes you through the Vatican Museums, home to countless works of art. LGBTQ+ narratives subtly pervade many pieces here. For instance, you can find homoerotic themes in some frescoes and sculptures, hinting at a more inclusive interpretation of sexuality than is typically associated with the church. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, a cornerstone of Renaissance art, has also been read through a queer lens, with some scholars highlighting the sensuous depictions of male bodies as indicative of the artist’s sexual orientation.
Exploring theVatican Gardens, the tour unveils the lesser-known stories of queer individuals who tended these beautiful landscapes. Though often forgotten in mainstream narratives, these gardeners, architects, and artisans have indelibly shaped the Vatican’s aesthetic and legacy.
Finally, the tour covers the contemporary LGBTQ+ scene in Vatican City, discussing the challenges and achievements of queer individuals within the church today. It offers an insight into how the Vatican is slowly progressing towards inclusivity and acceptance, including Pope Francis’s more welcoming stance on homosexuality.
This exploration of Vatican City through an LGBTQ+ lens reveals a side of the city-state often overlooked by traditional tours. It promises a thought-provoking and enlightening experience, inviting visitors to reconsider the city’s history and its relationship with the queer community.
Venice: Oscar Wilde’s LGBTQ+ Haven during the Victorian Era
Venice, a city famed for its romantic allure and unique architectural feats, offers another layer of attraction through its rich queer history. An exploration of LGBTQ+ culture in Venice offers a different perspective on this well-trodden tourist destination.
One prominent figure to know is the poet Rinaldo Cacciola, who made a significant impact on Venetian culture during the Renaissance. Living openly as a gay man, Cacciola’s contributions to literature, philosophy, and the arts played a major role in shaping Venice’s cultural heritage.
Another must-visit spot on this tour is the iconic Bridge of Sighs. Named by Lord Byron, a bisexual poet, the Bridge of Sighs has a melancholic beauty that echoes through the centuries. Despite its grim past as a link between the Doge’s Palace and the New Prison, the bridge holds romantic connotations for many visitors, which is in line with Byron’s themes of love and loss.
A trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride. As you navigate through the city’s canals, consider the stories of LGBTQ+ gondoliers who have steered these boats through the centuries. This unique profession has also been shaped by queer identities, adding another layer to the diverse tapestry of Venice’s LGBTQ+ history.
These tours serve as an essential reminder that the LGBTQ+ community has always been part of Venice’s social fabric. They not only enlighten us about the past but also show how these narratives contribute to the city’s character today. So, when planning a trip to Venice, consider incorporating an LGBTQ+ history tour into your itinerary for an insightful and enriching experience.
Rome: Tracing Queer History through the Roman Soldiers and Emperors
Rome, with its iconic monuments and ancient stories, has a lesser-known narrative to tell – that of its queer history. Many Roman soldiers, as well as emperors like Augustus and Nero, were involved in same-sex relationships. This reality paints a picture of the past in a different light, creating a fascinating tapestry of LGBTQ+ life in ancient times.
Tour the city’s most famous sights while uncovering these stories. From the Roman Forum to the Colosseum, trace the lives of queer Roman figures. Walk along the historic streets, stop by the statues and monuments, and appreciate the significance of the narratives that were overlooked for centuries.
In addition to these, there are countless other cities in Italy, each with its unique LGBTQ+ history and culture waiting to be discovered. As you plan your trip to Italy, make sure to consider these tours as they offer a unique, inclusive perspective on Italy’s vibrant history.
Milan, the fashion capital of Italy, is not only known for its chic style and exquisite architecture but also for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene. This cosmopolitan city embraces diversity and offers a range of experiences that cater to the queer community.
Start your journey in the heart of Milan at the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a splendid shopping arcade where fashion and history intertwine. This historic landmark, with its elegant boutiques and bustling cafes, has been a meeting place for LGBTQ+ locals and visitors alike. Explore the surrounding streets and you’ll find an array of LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, from trendy bars to stylish nightclubs, where you can dance the night away and immerse yourself in Milan’s nightlife.
Continue your exploration to the fashionable district of Brera, known for its artistic ambiance and bohemian atmosphere. This neighborhood is home to numerous LGBTQ+-friendly cafes, art galleries, and boutiques. Take a stroll through its charming streets, soak in the vibrant energy, and discover the local LGBTQ+ hotspots that make Brera a hub of creativity and self-expression.
No visit to Milan would be complete without experiencing the world-renowned Teatro alla Scala, one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. This historic venue has witnessed legendary performances and has been a cultural symbol for centuries. Many LGBTQ+ artists have graced its stage, leaving their mark on the world of opera. Immerse yourself in the captivating melodies and passionate stories brought to life in this iconic theater.
For a glimpse into Milan’s LGBTQ+ history, visit Villa Necchi Campiglio, a house museum that was the setting for the film “I Am Love” and has ties to the Oscar-winning movie “Call Me By Your Name.” This elegant residence offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the upper class and showcases the influence of queer artists and designers on Milan’s cultural heritage.
Make sure to also explore the Navigli District, famous for its picturesque canals and lively atmosphere. This vibrant neighborhood is home to a diverse range of LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, including bars, clubs, and restaurants. Enjoy a drink by the canal, indulge in the local cuisine, and embrace the inclusive spirit that defines this part of Milan.
Milan’s LGBTQ+ scene is not limited to specific neighborhoods; it permeates the city, offering a warm and welcoming environment for all. Throughout the year, Milan hosts various LGBTQ+ events, including Pride celebrations, art exhibitions, and film festivals, which further highlight the city’s commitment to inclusivity and acceptance.
In Milan, diversity is celebrated, and LGBTQ+ visitors can feel at home in this thriving metropolis. Embrace the spirit of expression, immerse yourself in the local culture, and discover the beauty and vibrancy of Milan’s LGBTQ+ community.
Indulge in the Romance of Crema: A Journey Inspired by “Call Me by Your Name”
Crema, a small town nestled in the Lombardy region of Italy, has gained international recognition as the backdrop for the award-winning film “Call Me by Your Name” This cinematic masterpiece has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, and exploring the town of Crema allows fans to step into the enchanting world of Elio and Oliver’s timeless love story.
Begin your journey through Crema by visiting the iconic locations featured in “Call Me by Your Name” Start at Piazza del Duomo, a charming square where Elio and Oliver become intimately acquainted on the cathedral doorsteps. As you stand in this very spot, you can almost feel the palpable emotions and hear the echoes of their heartfelt conversations.
From there, make your way to Via Marazzi and Piazza Premoli, where Elio and Marzia engage in a French conversation, showcasing the town’s multicultural ambiance. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the atmosphere, imagining the whirlwind of emotions that unfolded during their exchanges.
Continue your exploration by following in Elio’s footsteps as he enjoys leisurely moments at local cafes. Find a cozy spot at one of Crema’s cafes, order a cup of rich Italian coffee, and let the ambiance transport you to the world of the film. Sit back, savor the flavors, and appreciate the simple pleasures that Elio embraced during his transformative summer.
While in Crema, it’s also worth venturing beyond the film’s locations to discover the town’s hidden treasures. Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, adorned with medieval buildings that exude a sense of history and charm. As you explore, you’ll encounter local artisans, boutique shops, and picturesque squares that invite you to pause and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
As you traverse the streets of Crema, take a moment to reflect on the universal themes of love, self-discovery, and the fleeting nature of summer that “Call Me by Your Name” beautifully portrays. Allow the town’s ambiance to evoke the emotions that the film so powerfully captures.
To conclude your journey, embrace the warm and inviting LGBTQ+-friendly atmosphere that permeates Crema. The town’s inclusive spirit and welcoming community make it an ideal destination for LGBTQ+ travelers seeking an accepting and affirming environment.