LGBTQ+ Italy: Gay-Friendly Places To Visit

Italy is a country that is increasingly welcoming to queer travelers. Here we look at the very best of LGBTQ+ Italy.

For millions of people, Italy is the dream vacation spot. With its gorgeous beaches, delicious cuisine, and endless history, Italy has attracted tourists and travelers for decades, if not centuries.

But, though extremely beautiful, Italy is also a very Catholic country that struggles to shake off a reputation for its conservative tradition and culture. The older population in Italy is very high — the highest in Europe, in fact, making up almost 24% of the entire country — and many outdated views are still held in certain parts of the country, particularly outside of the cities. Meanwhile, a strong far-right has recently led to the failure of progressive legislation in support of civil rights.

As a result, for people of the LGBTQ+ community, myself included, a bit of research is unfortunately needed before traveling to Italy. Yet don’t let it put you off. Italy is overall growing in acceptance of our community. And there are many areas that will embrace queer people with open arms. 

In this article, we explore some of the most welcoming gay-friendly places to visit in Italy.


Milan is often coined the ‘gay capital’ of Italy. Not just an international fashion and financial hotspot, Milan offers a wide variety of gay bars and specific gay-friendly areas. One of these is Porta Venezia, the city’s biggest and most abundant gay friendly area. It holds Via Lecco, which proudly hosts the city’s Pride events, including a grand parade filling the entire street. 

Where is best to visit?

  • LeccoMilano: Milan’s most popular gay bar, both for Italian and international visitors. Offering anything from snacks to light lunches, and aperitifs to cocktails, this bar has a wonderful atmosphere, with vinyl records dangling from the ceiling and gay decor everywhere. 
  • Club Plastic: The city’s most iconic gay disco club, founded in the 1980s. With electric music and neon lights everywhere, the dance floor has been used by such icons as Madonna, Prince, Elton John, and Freddie Mercury. 


Rome is a metropolitan city of youth, nightlife, and opportunities, combined with centuries of incredible history. There are many ways that the LGBTQ+ community can feel welcomed in Rome, from the city’s massive Pride event and various gay hotspots, to the city’s Gay Village, a series of events held since the early 2000s in order to promote the equality of homosexuality. 

A few places you won’t want to miss:

  • Gay Street: Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, only steps from the Colosseum, is Rome’s ‘Gay Street’. As the name suggests, it is the city’s main hub for gay life, holding a handful of popular gay bars and meeting points. 
  • Coming Out: On Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, Coming Out is one of the most popular gay bars in Rome. It offers delicious food and a wide variety of cocktails and drinks, with indoor and outdoor seating. 
  • My Bar: Not far down the same street, you’ll find My Bar. Similarly, this bar also offers indoor and outdoor seating, with a wonderful view of the Colosseum and pride flags everywhere. It also has karaoke nights every Thursday. 


Bologna is a youthful millennial city, powered by its large student population. It’s also one of the leading LGBTQ+ spots in all of Italy, notably home of the Cassero LGBT Center, an organization founded in 1978 for the recognition and appreciation of gay rights. 

What are the best spots to visit in the city?

  • Cassero: LGBTQ+ center hosting a variety of events from dance parties to drag shows. This is the main center of the Arcigay movement and organization, with various other bases found throughout Italy. They are the main political and social party that helps fight for the legal rights of LGBTQ+ citizens in Italy. 
  • Barattolo: A rather popular, lively gay bar primarily for the youth of Bologna. Here, the scene is more low-key, offering a cozy atmosphere and a wide variety of beautiful decor, ranging from gay themed paintings to its own personal garden area. 
  • Red Club: Bologna’s most popular gay club. Located near Zona Roveri, this bar offers everything from dance parties to drag shows, even offering an outdoor area in the summer with its own swimming pool. 
lgbtq+ italy
A pride flag with the Italian word for peace in front of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Photo by the author.


Florence has a well documented gay history dating back to the Renaissance and beyond. Today, there are many gay friendly areas and meeting places in Florence, making it a thriving hotspot for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Where are the best places in Florence?

  • Queer: A lively, gay bar found in the heart of the Santa Croce neighborhood, arguably the most popular in Florence. It is quite cozy, with modern styling and music. 
  • Tenax: A rock and roll, alternative club for LGBTQ+ people, featuring strobe lights and live music with a dance floor. It is quite spacious and exclusive, only open Friday and Saturday nights, and even offers a VIP area upstairs. 
  • Florence Baths: A thriving LGBTQ+ sauna found in Florence since 1991. It remains the only gay sauna open to this day and offer extensive services, such as massages and a secluded bar area. 


Gallipoli is a small, seaside town located in Puglia. Translating to ‘the beautiful city’, Gallipoli has been renowned in recent years for its gay scene, not only for native gay Italians but also for gay tourists alike. 

Places to check out in Gallipoli:

  • Caffè Bellini: A local and popular gay café in Gallipoli. It is a wonderful place to meet locals and to also have a coffee cocktail, getting pretty lively at night. 
  • D’Ayala Beach: The most visited gay beach in Puglia. Gay and straight alike are welcomed, offering nudist areas also, along with separate areas to fish and snorkel. 


Catania, a metropolitan city located in Sicily, is progressively becoming more and more accepting to all, especially those of the LGBTQ+ community. Like many other Italian cities, it has an annual pride festival.

Where to go in Catania?

  • Via Alessi: The most popular and historic gay center in Catania. 
  • Pegaso: An LGBTQ+ support organization that helps the spread of equality and acceptance for the community throughout Catania. 
  • Le Campaninne: A gay-friendly disco dance party including a separate restaurant and beach area.

Final thoughts for the gay traveler

There are many gay hotspots in Italy, both including those listed above and many more. For an LGBTQ+ traveler, Italy is an ideal vacation spot. However, wherever you are heading, take the time to find the places that will give you the welcome you deserve. The places and meeting points listed above, as an Italian-American lesbian, are more than friendly enough to enjoy your time as a proud LGBTQ+ person in Italy.

Don’t be worried. You may be surprised to find that Italy is actually a very open and accepting country!