Milan’s Gay-Friendly Hotels
Milan is perhaps Italy’s most refined and sophisticated city, home of high fashion, cutting-edge design, and impressive architecture. It is also the largest business hub in the country, and these factors can lead to steep rates, especially during peak tourism season and when major conventions are in town.
Most gay travelers book hotels in the Northeast of the city center, where most of gay Milan converges – specifically, the Old Town and the area surrounding Porta Venezia. The focal point of this neighborhood is Corso Buenos Aires, a shopper’s paradise containing the highest concentration of clothing stores in Europe. If you’re in town to shop and party, this has to be where you stay in Milan.
GAYS AND THE LAW
Italy is relatively progressive in terms of its attitude to LGBT rights, but it does lag behind other Western countries in certain areas. Gay marriage is not yet legal in the country, and neither is same-sex adoption. The laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity are also less developed than in many other European countries.
However, there is some evidence that public opinion is ahead of legislation in this area. The country ranked 8th in the world in a 2013 poll in terms of acceptance of homosexuality and data shows that this is continuously improving.
Milan is probably Italy’s most modern and liberal city – as such, gay couples here can be more at ease than they would be in some other more conservative tourist destinations. This is especially the case in Porta Venezia, where gay displays of affection are fairly common and unlikely to draw any attention.
Many individuals visit Italy to experience its history and traditions, such as ancient Roman ruins, majestic cathedrals, and quaint cliffside villages that appear to have been frozen in time. However, Milan represents the future of Italy with its bold, contemporary architecture and avant-garde fashion. Despite this, the city still offers classic Italian sophistication in the form of grand villas, cathedrals, and galleries.
Milan is the epicenter of Italy’s cutting-edge high culture, from renowned fashion houses to world-class opera. This polished atmosphere extends to the city’s gay nightlife, which is both expansive and refined. The gay scene includes upscale cocktail bars, high-concept cruise clubs, and large parties with top-notch production values, as well as more casual, laid-back, and kitschy venues for entertainment.
It is not surprising that gay Milan is the largest gay hub in Italy since the city is known for its sense of fun and style. The Porta Venezia neighborhood, particularly Via Lecco, is the center of the city’s gay life. This street is home to some of the most popular gay bars in Milan, such as LeccoMilano, Red Cafe, and MONO, and serves as the central hub for Milan’s Pride Week. During the summer months when most of the city’s major gay parties are closed, Giardini Indro Montanelli Park nearby hosts a gay pop-up bar that is one of the hottest meeting spots in the city.
Other gay venues can be found throughout Milan, particularly saunas and large clubs. Several clubs are located in the southern part of town, including Patchouli Cafe, Wonder, Glitter Club, and Club Plastic. To the northeast near Milano Centrale station are gay clubbing institutions like TRACK (which hosts the biggest gay parties in town) and La Boum (a popular Friday night option), as well as most of the city’s saunas and cruise clubs. The latter tend to focus on the hardcore fetish side of things, but there are also some more laid-back options.
Milan’s metro system is efficient and has good coverage, making it easy to explore the entire local gay scene. We suggest staying close to Porta Venezia to fully enjoy the gay Milan village while also being within a 20-minute metro ride of most tourist attractions and more remote gay venues. Porta Venezia is also the best neighborhood in town for shopping, with Corso Buenos Aires (the city’s longest shopping street) just a short walk away.
Getting an HIV test in Milan is fairly straightforward. The easiest place to go is Amb. Malattie a Trasmissione Sessuale (ATS) near Lancetti station, which is under 20 minutes by Metro from Porta Venezia. Testing is free and confidential for everyone. If you’re worried about the language barrier, MedinAction offers a house call service with English-speaking staff.
HIV incidence in Italy is comparatively low, even for European standards. Nonetheless, you should be careful and practice safe sex in all your encounters in Milan.
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