Mamma Mia! It will be very difficult to introduce a country that needs no introduction at all!!
It all started with Romulus and Remus; the two brothers raised by a wolf who founded Rome which expanded to become the Roman Empire that spanned half of the globe and that gave the world so much of its current form ending up with the current Italy.
The world and especially Europe owes so much to this country in countless fields from arts, law, engineering, fashion, football, culture, literature, theatre, opera, food, city planning and many more that are a gift of Italy throughout its history and its present form.
Italy has world famous cities that have no parallel elsewhere; Rome for its history, Florence for its arts and sculptures, Milan for fashion and finance and Venice for its beauty. Italy is truly blessed with a diverse geography with Alps on one side and Sardinia and Sicilian beaches in the south, you can ski one day and lie down on a beach next day enjoying some amazing pizza and pasta with world class wine and not to forget those beautiful gorgeous Italian men, what else do you want from life?
Fun fact: Italy has two micro states landlocked within its boundaries; San Marino and Vatican.
The Racism Factor
Italians are generally quite open and warm people and I didn’t feel any racial hatred towards me all the way up north in Trieste to down in Rome. They are very used to tourists in all colour and types and you can easily make friends in any bar in a few minutes, such is the warmth of these lovely people.
You can easily meet and befriend Italians everywhere, the only slight hang up will be the language but most of the younger generation speaks Italian but it is quite funny how easy it is to converse with Italians because of the famous hand gestures.
The Gay Factor
Despite being the country with pope in it (well not technically but who cares?), Italy is quite liberal and they share these habits and openness with Spaniards rather than the clergy. They like being happy with good food and vino and generally people do not show homophobic behaviour. Italy is beautiful and so are the hearts of people living in it.
Grindr is teeming with hot men and every big city has plenty of gay bars and clubs. In the rural areas and South the older generation might not like the sound of being gay but so many of my friends from these areas are gay and out, the landscape has changed massively in recent years.
Generally Italian cities do not have particular gay quarters and gay scene is quite scattered but in most of the big cities you will find bars and clubs or at least
Tip : For a lot of bars and clubs you need a membership card called Anddos Card which you can buy at the entrance of most clubs and bars but you need your I.D. for it and afterwards you can simply use this card. You can get more information and buy it here.
Value for Money
Italy can be quite expensive especially in bigger cities but it is quite easy to control your budget here. You can easily get good food on good prices and the general provisions are not very expensive The south of the country is generally cheaper compared to north; Venice and Milan being quite expensive along with Rome.
If you book in advance flights, accommodation and city transfers are all quite reasonable and even within bigger cities you can easily spend quality time on budget. I think Italy is one of those places where you can easily be happy in a hostel with lot of friendly people. (Sadly hostels don’t cut it for me so I’d love to get some feedback on this from my readers).
You need at least 3 days in Venice, 4-6 days in Rome, 2 days in Florence, 2 days in Milan and 1-2 days in Trieste to actually see and appreciate the beauty of these cities. While my visit was slightly less than most of the timelines but I am ever so glad I did my research especially for Rome and spent the time really well instead of trial and error. I hope the itineraries in the posts help you as well.
Milan is the city of fashion designers, photographers and models and understandably the gay scene is rich and established. Throw in a few bankers and it becomes fancy as well. Milan being the second biggest city of Italy has a huge population but the gay scene is quite scattered and the only area with relative density is Porta Venezia which is also close to the city centre and the Milan cathedral in the centre of town. We stayed around the Palestro metro station through airbnb and loved how close it was to everything.
For Rome, I’d recommend staying near the central train station because it is really convenient and is very easy to go around from especially with really horrible public transport. Again there’s no particular gay area in Rome.
Florence is quite small and I would highly recommend staying through airbnb in some small city square. I still remember waking up to the window with sun coming out with the square in view and felt like the most blessed person alive. Anywhere in the city centre will do.
Moving on to my other two destinations; Venice and Trieste. In Venice the closer you stay to Grand Canal and Rialto bridge the better it is because Rialto is a convenient place to go everywhere from and in Trieste the best option is staying near the Piazza Unit at the seafront. It is not only close to most places, it is also close to train and bus stations with lots of good food options.
When I travelled to Italy my idea was that Italians only eat pasta and pizza in every part of the country but boy was I proven wrong! Every region has a specialty and they love eating local food which does include some pasta and pizza but it also includes a lot of sausages, meat, fresh vegetables and rissotto.
Food in different regions takes different shapes and forms but it all has one thing in common; it is incredibly delicious and Italy is probably the country with best food options at the lowest rice for budget travellers.
Phone & Internet
Internet and phone service is quite bad in the country with patchy service pretty much throughout the country even in big cities. Internet is quite slow and wifi connections take ages to load stuff. I would recommend using your roaming because it connects to the strongest signal but if you have to buy a sim card here is a good guide.
Cash & Cards
Cash is generally your friend in Italy and while a lot of places accept card payments there’s still quite a lot who don’t. Because the internet is quite slow most merchants do not bother with it and I would recommend keeping some money especially for smaller places. In this regard North of Italy is much better than South.
Cash machines and money exchange shops are quite common on the other hand and you can easily withdraw money without a lot of issues.
- Sunscreen, beach towels, hats and swimming trunks…
- If you really want to enjoy Italy and Rome you need to familiarise yourself to the history of this impressive empire. You can watch this amazing 8 part detailed series on youtube or this 3 part documentary or my very favourite 3 part series by Mary Beard here.
- Italy is always packed with tourists in every season and you should always reserve your places and book your tickets in advance.
- Be careful with your possessions especially on the train and bus stations, my friend lost her bag within seconds on Rome train station. There are also a lot of pickpockets around especially in Rome.