2017 September 20 to 29
A Gay Travel Italy Cultural Tour
From the splendor of ancient Rome to the glory of the Renaissance…Italy is the historic and artistic treasure house of Western civilization. What makes it even more fascinating is how influential gay Italians were in creating all that we know today! From the Caesars to the Art Masters, Italy is a bastion of gay history and culture, and we’ll explore it all.
Rome, Florence, Naples, Capri…the very sound of these amazing Italian cities stir the soul. Join us as we reveal the gay side of this amazing country. We will discover the secret lives of Rome’s gay emperors, follow in the footsteps of Michelangelo and Caravaggio, and sample all the delights (culinary and otherwise) that gay Italy has to offer. We will learn about Italy’s flamboyant side with world renowned Professor Andrew Lear and local guides who specialize in gay culture as we relax in a series of exquisite hotels and feast on superb cuisine, accompanied by fine Italian wines of course!
Day 1: The Eternally Gay City
Ciao Roma! We will take some time to relax after our international flights and check in to our comfortable hotel centrally located in Rome. Don’t fall asleep, because Professor Lear is ready to start our tour with a brief talk about Italy’s gay history, before leading us on a walk through the center of this fascinating city. Marvel at monuments such as the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, and the church where the opening scene of Tosca takes place—all within a short stroll from our hotel. Enjoy a relaxed, pleasant stroll with a little bit of learning—from Hadrian, the “gayest” emperor, to Caravaggio, the artistic rebel and genius- and then it’s on to our welcome dinner, where we start to get to know the culinary magic that is the cuisine of this great city.
Day 2: Back in Time…
In the morning, we meet our local guides and delve into the core of the ancient city—the Forum, the Palatine Hill that housed the imperial residences, and the Colosseum, famous for its gladiatorial combats. As we journey back in time, we also learn about Romans’ sexual mores—including their important same-sex side—and examine the lurid tales of the emperors’ sex lives. We’ll have lunch at a traditional Roma restaurant, and then cross the river and visit the Vatican. Here we will reveal (and revel in!) the irony of one of the world’s greatest collections of homoerotic art being housed by an institution that has a long history of homophobia. Enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day 3: It’s good to be the Emperor!
Our day begins with a drive into the countryside to Tivoli, where we visit two great villas: Emperor Hadrian’s country retreat (where, among other things, he built a temple to his lover Antinous, who was worshiped as a god after his suicide), and the Villa d’Este, with its splendid Renaissance gardens and fountains. We’ll dine in a country restaurant famous for its local produce and wine, and return to Rome to visit Palazzo Massimo, the center of the city’s antiquity collections. Here we will see such masterpieces of Greco-Roman art as the Discobolus (a model of masculine form for the Greeks) and the sleeping hermaphrodite—a statue that reveals much about the Romans’ sexual attractions.
Day 4: Art and Culture…and Gelato!
On our last morning in Rome, we visit the Capitoline museum, with its magnificent collection—from the famous she-wolf of Rome to Caravaggio’s strangely erotic St. John the Baptist. We are then off to explore a recently discovered ancient senatorial palace, where a sound-and-light show explains the fascinating and complex history of this site for Ancient Romans. Take some free time this afternoon and evening, you’ve earned it! Shopping, wandering, or more museums and churches may interest you, and we’re happy to provide suggestions for dinner tonight on your own.
Day 5: Pizza al fresco
We take the express train to Naples, one of the most complex and lively of all Italian cities. Did you know that the Neapolitans invented pizza? Well, we will sample a delicious Pizza Marguerita and learn how it all began. This afternoon at the Naples Archaeological Museum, we see the amazing collection of frescoes and statues that were excavated in Pompeii and other nearby sites. The Museum is also home to some fabulous homoerotic pieces, and a collection of erotic art that until the 1960s was only open to “people of mature age and respectable morals.” We will travel to the coast and spend the evening in Sorrento in our hotel overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean.
Day 6: Pompeii’s Secret and it’s all Greek to me…
We spend the morning in Pompeii, the world’s greatest archaeological site. Sexuality will be our special theme as Pompeii is rich in the history of the erotic. There are many surprises in store, especially in the main bordello and the locker-room of the Suburban Baths! The specialties of Southern Italy are on the menu for lunch today, including the best fresh mozzarella in the world, as we dine at an amazing restaurant that has been feeding visitors to Pompeii since 1825! We drive south to Paestum this afternoon and switch cultures, from ancient Roman to ancient Greek, and the museum here is home to an amazing collection of homoerotic art not to be missed. Tonight we’re back to Sorrento for a free evening.
Day 7: The Gay Isle of Capri
Capri, the pearl of the Mediterranean waits for us today after a fun hydrofoil ride. Famous for its beauty and for the rich and famous who have played there, this island has long been a mecca for the gay rich and famous. After a boat ride around the island, we go up to the village of Capri, where we learn about the Emperor Tiberius and the orgies he supposedly held on the island as well as Capri’s gay culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those who are up for a walk can also visit the Villa Lysis, the most spectacular remaining villa of the period and, frankly, one of the world’s gayest spots. Lunch is on the water’s edge with fresh seafood on the menu. On return to Sorrento, an optional cooking lesson is available (must be booked in advance).
Day 8: Renaissance begins…
We begin our day with an express train ride from Naples to Florence. Upon arrival we have a splendid lunch waiting—with Tuscany’s famous steak and red wines. In the afternoon, we take a walking tour of the center of Florence, learning about the city’s key role in the Renaissance and the role of homosexual love in the Renaissance. Our afternoon ends with a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where we see Michelangelo’s ‘slaves’ and the international symbol of male beauty, his David.
Day 9: Masterpiece after Masterpiece
Today, we visit two of Florence’s splendid museums, where we will discover the whole history of Florentine Renaissance art as well as the dense gay history of Renaissance Florence! We start the morning at the Bargello, and then we then plunge into the Uffizi. Bursting with masterpieces, the Uffizi is also storehouse of homoerotic art. The afternoon is yours to explore this charming city, maybe shopping at some of their fashionable boutiques or artisan workshops suits your pleasure. Tonight we celebrate with new found friends the magic that is gay Italy at our Farewell Dinner!
Day 10: Ciao for now!
Our tour ends this morning in Florence, but we are happy to arrange your return trip to Rome (please let us know about your return to the US, especially if you are leaving today) or your transfer to the HE Travel Puglia Villa Culinary Experience.
For the week leading up to Gay Italy, we’ll be visiting classic landmarks of Greece’s Golden Age in Athens, Sparta Olympia and Delphi. See Byzantine churches below the stark cliffs of Monemvasia, mountaintop monasteries of Meteora, and echoes of St. Paul’s epic preaching to the Thessalonians. Conclude with a walk in the footsteps of Alexander the Great!
For those with more time to spend in Italy, we encourage you to experience the exquisite culinary traditions of Puglia, along the Adriatic Coast! Savor the bounty of the rich traditions of Italy’s Adriatic coastal region of Puglia. By day explore mountain towns, seaside villages, Swabian castles and cave homes that pre-date the Renaissance. Then each evening relax in our authentic 14th century villa over a dinner featuring produce, meat and fish from the region, and olive oil and wine from the villa’s own fields.
Price includes: Accommodation at 4- and 5-star boutique hotels for 9 nights; all breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 2 dinners; Knowledgeable gay historian accompanying the group on included activities; Entrance fees to sites listed in itinerary; Ground transportation; and HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare; Airport-hotel transfers on arrival and departure; 3 lunches and 7 dinners; activities shown as “optional” in the itinerary; Alcoholic beverages; Gratuities for local guides and drivers; Personal items such as souvenirs and snacks; and Trip cancellation insurance.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1289 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$TBA Cooking Class in Sorrento
Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.
For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts in Rome and ends in Florence. We are happy to arrange your return trip to Rome or elsewhere, or take care of your transfer to the HE Travel Puglia Villa Culinary Experience.
Let us know if you plan to arrive in Rome from Athens after our Gay Greek History Tour!
This trip features a great deal of walking. We’ll be on our feet for several hours daily during tours of museums and historical monuments, occasionally walking up and down hills and cobbled streets. We’ll traverse mostly well maintained areas, though there may be uneven footing in gardens and ancient sites.
Our hotels are 4- and 5-star boutique hotels, chosen for their special charm and their central locations.
For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174