travel advice & savings
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Italy for Queer
galfera2004's profile picture
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I’ll be traveling to Italy next month. I’ll be visiting the major cities like Rome, Florence and Venice, and also smaller cities like Pisa, Naples, Amalfi and Sorrento. I am just wondering how is the gay scene in the big cities like Rome? Are they as open and as “fun” as the N. American gay cities like Toronto, Montreal and NYC?

Also, what is the legal age of drinking in Italy? I’m 19 and I’m from Canada, so I’m legal here, but not really sure about Italy.

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1200 for 12 days
Rome, Sorrento, Naples, Amalfi, Florence, Pisa, Venice
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget
luv_the_beach's profile picture
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Hi galfera,

Sorry to be answering rather late, but here’s my answer:

As far as drinking age, for most of Europe it’s 16 (18 in Britain and Scandinavian countries, I believe), but it’s not heavily enforced. If you can see over the bar, they’ll serve you. Reason it’s not as strict as it is in the US is because: unlike the United States, drinking ages in Europe precede driving ages, in addition to the fact that European cities and towns are far less car-dependent than those in the US and Canada. So a vendor doesn’t have to worry about being held liable for selling alcohol to a minor who may then be involved in a car accident. Also, certain European cultures (namely: Southern Europe and the German-speaking nations) tend to be more civilized with their alcohol consumption, while other cultures (Britain, Ireland, Finns, and Scandinavians) are more likely to abuse. In the former, you’ll notice bars and pubs stay open late, in the latter they close quite early.

As for gay travel, certain areas of Europe are more tolerant (particularly the largest cities), while others are still more conservative (rural areas), and there’s also some countries are overall more tolerant (Netherlands) while others are quite conservative (Poland). Southern European nations are more middle-of-the-road on this issue: more liberal than Eastern Europe, but a bit more conservative than Northern Europe…I would say Southern Europe is pretty much similar to the United States. With Spain and France leaning more liberal, but Italy, Greece, and Portugal also have their pockets of gay-friendly areas, particularly in the largest cities, or other more cosmopolitan touristy areas. Similar to the United States, gay rights issues have become more prominent in Southern Europe over the past decade, and the portrayal of gay people in the media has evolved from the caricatures you would have seen on TV in the 1990s, to the increasing frequency of more realistic portrayals today. France recognizes same-sex civil unions, while Spain outright legalized same-sex marriage (but not without irking the Catholic Church). There is no proposed legislation in Italy and Greece, but it is being hotly debated; opinion polls show most Italians are in favour of recognizing same-sex marriages, and in Greece there was a recent controversy where a number of mayors performed same-sex marriage ceremonies but the status of these marriages remains in limbo. That being said, it’s always a good idea to remain discreet, unless you are for sure in a gay venue or in a tolerant district or area. If you’re traveling with a partner, by all means don’t be afraid to travel freely, but again, just be aware in any non-touristy rural areas that may be more conservative. As for specific bars and other venues, and experiences of gay travelers, try doing a Google search, there should be a wealth of information and literature on the subject.

Hope I’ve helped.