The Eternal City, capital of the Roman Empire and of Italy is an open air museum. Each era has left its mark on this city of art. Buildings are monumental and art works on every street corner. It is also a vibrant capital where you will take pleasure taking walks and you will eat divinely well. Always well dressed, the Romans are charmers and a bit macho. Viale San Giovanni, known as "Gay Street" close to the Coliseum concentrates most gay or gay friendly establishments but there is no specifically gay district. Ancient Rome where the bisexuality was the standard seems very distant. Cicero, Hadrian or Julius Caesar had their own lovers beside their wives, but Christianity took over. However, the Vatican is more friendly than it seems. Let’s take a trip a Rome tainted with dolce vita.
When to go?
You will love Rome throughout the year! Spring of course, because it opens the terraces season. The city celebrates the Christian celebrations with enthusiasm. Gay pride is at the beginning of June.Summer is a bit hot and the city deserted by the locals in August. Riding a Vespa (the Italian scooter par excellence), the city is ours. Establishments move out to the Gay Village (Via delle Tre Fontane, Magliana metro) in the Southern part of city where there are many live festivities from June to September: disco, films, theater,... The place to be! Autumn marks the return to a quieter period and the beginning of the cultural season. Winter finally, because the weather is relatively mild and the Christmas season warmly celebrated. It is also the opportunity to take part in Catacombs, a colourful night orniganized by Leather Club Roma at the beginning of December . The group also organises Fetiche Pride Italy at the end of February. On the agenda also is Rome’s Bears Week in January and the events of CoMog, the local bikers group, or of Associazione di Volontariato Libellula for trans and drags.
What to see
From imperial Rome, through Renaissance and to the modern Rome, there really is a lot to do. The Coliseum of course, true symbol of the city. It took more than 120,000 slaves to build it in the year 72, then gladiator fights were held there until the 5th century. The Roman Forum, a centre of power, is impressive with its arches, columns, temples... We are at the foot of the Capitol, a real natural fortress of the city with its square and museums. The Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo house paintings and sculptures from the greatest artists. Rubens, Titian, Veronese...
The Greek gods, Hercules, Aphrodite are magnified in a monumental way. You will also go to the Pantheon under the dome of the temple built in honour of Venus and Mars, who gave birth to Romulus and Remus, founders of the city. Fountains have an important place. That of Trévi of course where water came as early as the year 19 BC, that of Neptune with its monumental sculpture of Bernini on the Navonna square or the piazza di Spagna fountain.
The Vatican is one of the must-see for the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, the dome and marble Piéta in Michelangelo’s Saint-Peter’s basilica. Although he never admitted his homosexuality, it
recited very inspired verses to his young lover. The Bernini also left numerous works including the bronze baldachin.
There is of course the Saint Peter’s square, with its columns and 140 statues and gardens guarded by the Swiss guards with colourful costumes and often very charming. Otherwise, there is also the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, first church of Rome in 324, where the marriage of thirteen gay couples was held in the 16th century with the approval of the Church. There is much to see and visit, but do not forget to stroll and get lost in the narrow streets, particularly in the Trastevere district which is very colourful. More relaxing, the gardens of Villa Borghese are an enjoyable stop. You will need many trips to Rome to discover all its treasures... here is a good start.
What to do
Renting a Vespa and enjoying the Roman capital as a local is really possible. But you should not be bothered by the often chaotic traffic. August is ideal when there is less traffic. Otherwise, Rome is one of the capital cities of fashion, therefore ideal for shopping. Famous brands and designers of course, but others more affordable especially via del Corso between Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia. Leather and latex lovers will go to Alcova (Piazza Sforza Cesarini 27). It is open every day from 10:00 am to 08:00 pm except on Sunday.
Italian cuisine is exceptional and Rome allows you to enjoy all the regional specialities. Not easy to keep up with the local rhythm with delicious antipasti, followed by a primo piatto composed of pasta or risotto, then a secondo piatto with a meat or fish and finally a dessert. Usually, lunch can be the opportunity for a salad, delicatessen (bresaola, coppa, pancetta...) or a pizza taken on the go. On afternoons, let yourselves get tempted by good craft ice-creams in one of the many gelateria. Dinner is often late (around 9.00 or 10:00pm) and can taken in a small trattoria or osteria whose atmosphere is very friendly and prices reasonable.
In "Gay Street", there is the Coming out (Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, 8, Colosseo metro) which serves breakfast and brunch on day time with views of the Colosseum as well as My Bar just next door with a beautiful menu. Many tourists on day time and gays in the evening. In the same street at n°120, two charming bears serve gelato to die for at Ice Cream Bears. Also, on Piazza Venezia near the Capitol, the very friendly tavern Edoardo II (Vicolo Margana 14) offers a tasty cuisine and there are strip shows certain evenings.
It is not very intense but clubs are pleasant during the week and quite busy on weekends. Establishments are scattered throughout the city but easily accessible on foot, vespa or taxi.
On Gay Street, with terraces crowded on fine days, the Coming Out serves cocktails daily until 2:00 in the morning just as My Bar next door. In the very colourful Trastevere district, you will enjoy excellent ones at Garbo (Vicolo di Santa Margherita 1/A). It is very busy after midnight on week-ends. As for nightclubs, Frutta E Verdura (Via di San Passera 27) is gay, also Alibi (Via di Monte Testaccio 44, Piramide metro), Amigdala (in Goa, Via Libetta 13), Glamda (in Circolo degli Artisti, Via Casilina Vecchia 42), Muccassassina (in Qube, Via di Portonaccio) are gay friendly and features specifically gay nights. See also the agenda at Splash Roma with its gogos on Saturday evenings or Subwoofer for bears every last weekend of the month.
Where to sleep
In Gay Street, with a beautiful view of the Coliseum, 2nd Floor (Via San Giovani in Laterano 10) is a very pleasant little gay hotel, right above the bar Coming Out. Near Termini station, Ares Rooms (Via Domenichino 7) has 8 rooms and Best Place (Via Turati 13) has 5 rooms; on Piazza Navona, Relais Navona 71 has 6 rooms; close to Piazza di Spagna, there is Domus Valeria (Via del Babuino 96, Spagna or Flaminio metro); in the Appio Latino district, there is Orlando Innamorato (Via Mortara 2, Re di Roma, Ponte Lungo metros). Otherwise, you can find accommodation at locals’ through the Ebab network which has many members in Rome.
The sea, the beach and dunes are not very far. Romans go in Settimo Cielo south of Ostia which is half an hour by train. Take the train to C. Colombo then bus 7. There are gay flags and the Stabilimento bar. There is also a beach in Cerenova, 46 km on Via Aurelia or Spiaggia di Campo di Mare in Cerveteri with a gay naturist space and cruising. Otherwise, the high speed train. Italo connects Naples in 1h09, Florence in 1h30, Milan in 3h00 and Turin in 4h15. The website allows you to book quickly and it is not very expensive.
Plane ticket in hand, finding accommodation will not be hard. Vespa rentals are found on site in small shops in the city center. Bici&Baci (Via Cavour 302 near the Colosseum; Via del Viminale 5, near the Termini station) offer affordable prices. Otherwise, you will just need a transport card and you’re ready to go! For cruising places (sex- clubs and saunas), as elsewhere in Italy, you will need a Uno Club or A Pass card. You’ll buy them at the entrance of one of the clubs that requires it and it will cost you 8 euros for a month. You have to show an i.d for the subscription then you are all set. There is no way to escape it, club and sauna managers are very strict with it.