Known as the Cradle of the Renaissance and for oozing romance, charm and style – Gay Florence might also be the gayest city in Italy!
Forget Rome or Milan, in Florence, you can find fashion and high couture stores everywhere; then there is the Polimoda Fashion School and all of the theaters, museums, art masterpiece and antique markets. As we all known, artistic is deeply entwined with gay culture and history – so while the gay nightlife scene might not be the biggest in the country, the Florentine LGBT+ community is going strong, and gay people are a vital part of this creative cities social fabric.
In fact, is widely believed that Michaelangelo was gay, and after staring at the famous David statue we could easily believe it. And Michaelangelo could hardly be considered to be the only gay artists to have left his mark on Florence! Many design-oriented gays, with fabulous taste and a strong desire for the finer things in life, have flocked here – Like Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli!
Not that the government would be quick to celebrate this. Sadly Italy is one of the worst countries in Western Europe for gay rights, and while same-sex unions were legalized in 2016, Italy still maintains a ban on same-sex marriage! Despite this, Italy can generally be considered a gay-friendly country and public opinion are increasingly culturally liberal, and gay travelers are unlikely to experience any outright prejudice or problems with displays of affection in public. After watching the illiberal slide in Budapest, Warsaw, Istanbul, and Bucharest, we hope the same doesn’t happen here even as same-sex marriage has become a political football in Italy’s elections.
By day in Gay Florence, there are plenty of sexy Italian boys and girls browsing art galleries, wandering cobble-stoned streets or sipping coffee in quaint curb-side cafes but by night is when things really come alive. There might only be a few gay bars in Florence, but there are some wild gay dance parties worth planning your trip around, or the legendary Fabrik Crusie club venue just out of town. Even if the nightlife isn’t your thing, the world-class museums, haute couture shopping, iconic architecture, fine dining and utterly intoxicating atmosphere will give tourists more than enough reason to visit Gay Florence – whether it’s for a night, a week or to live full-time!
Gay Florence Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Florence Italy
In this article we will cover...
- Gay Florence Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Florence Italy
Attractions in Gay Florence
Museums, fine dining, cafés, boutiques and more abound in Italy’s culture capital, which has hardly changed in hundreds of years. The Florence skyline is still subjugated by the overwhelming fifteenth-century dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, the museums are crammed with world-famous Renaissance art, and the tourists who flock here have outnumbered Florentines every summer for hundreds of years. But don’t forget Florence isn’t a Renaissance-Disney theme park, and there is plenty of local life to be found here if you look – and we suggest you do if you want to discover the Florence gay scene.
However, being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see, and most queer tourists in Florence will simply want to check out the top things to see in Florence during the day! Gay people in Florence need not take any extra precautions regarding public displays of affection in Florence but should be aware that it is uncommon for local same-sex couples to do so. Italy is not as progressive as Oslo, Helsinki or Valencia, but you still should have no issues exploring this magical cities beauty!
We absolutely loved getting lost in the busy marketplaces, sipping espresso on charming streetside cafes and discovering all of the that Renaissance art, but in case you need more ideas – here are just a few of our favorite things to do in Florence!
Top Highlights of Florence
- Michelangelo’s David – The most famous piece of art in Florence, housed in the Accademia Gallery which is particularly famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo. Admire the 5.17-meter marble statue representing the Biblical hero David, a favored subject in Florentine art then wander in the adjacent rooms, which were part of two former convents and display plenty of other important works of art.
- Florence Walking Tour – The best way to see this historic city is on your feet! No matter what you do, that the time to get to know the city’s origins and more than 2,000 years of Florentine history with a decent guide or guide-book. You’ll be fascinated by what you see and hear as you walk through the city of Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and other important figures.
- Florence Dome – Climb up the Florence Duomo complex and get unbeatable views of the city from Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome. Explore the five attractions of the cathedral site (the crypt, baptistery, cathedral, bell tower and museums of the Florence Duomo) to discover what makes each of them so unique.
- Italian Food Market and Cooking Experience – Learn how to shop and cook Tuscan style on this 5-hour tour in Florence. Visit the central food market with your expert food guide to collect fresh produce and sample the local food and wines. Then learn how to cook yourself a wonderful Tuscan meal that you can recreate for yourself when you get home!
- Uffizi Gallery – Discover masterpieces of art at one of Italy (and the world’s) greatest art museums, and marvel at Italian Renaissance art by some of the greatest artists of all times. See paintings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raffaello, Giotto, Cimabue, Masaccio, and others. Go to the gallery’s most renowned room to see the stunning collection by Botticelli. Admire his “Primavera” and “The Birth of Venus,” and reflect upon his representation of the birth of the goddess as she emerges from the sea foam.
- Da Vinci Museum – An exhibition dedicated to the universal genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. Marvel at machines built to scale and according to Da Vinci’s original designs – unless changes have been necessary! Learn about some of Leonardo’s major studies of anatomy, and see high-resolution backlit replicas of his main paintings to explore his medical and artistic achievements.
- Palazzo Vecchio – Palazzo Vecchio is the heart of Florence. Built-in 1299 to house the leaders of the medieval city it is the symbol of the city’s history. During your visit, you’ll be able to admire the architecture of the Palazzo, and its sculptures and paintings, and learn about its rich and complex history over the centuries.
- Wine Tour – Take a fun day-trip to the Chianti countryside, and discover why the area is famous for its scenery as well as its wine. Try seven different types of wine all in one day with a professional wine tasting lesson, sample extra-virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, treat yourself to the gelato world champion and don’t forget to visit of the famous hilltop town of San Gimignano!
- Day Trip to Cinque Terre – Visit the Cinque Terre (5 Villages) in one fun day! Start early in the morning and sip coffee with the locals, later, dive into the crystal clear waters, and stroll along the famous path of Love. The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most enchanting destinations, and each of these unforgettable little cities will take your breath away with their gravity-defying dance above the azure waters. Not to be missed!
Gay Things To Do In Florence
- Florence Queer Festival – An International gay and lesbian film and arts festival that has become one of the most celebrated Italian exhibitions loyal to queer culture held annually in October. Having run for over a decade during the 50 Days of Cinema event in Florence at the Odeon Cinema, the Florence Queer Festival combines fabulous queer films from around the world along with video art, photo exhibitions, music, parties, debates, theatre, and presentations. Check out their website for the current line-up.
- Altri Passi – LGBT+ trekking between friends exploring nature and culture in Florence. An informal group of people who come together, born from the desire to be together and to know each other without clubs, discos or parties. The tours alternate historical-artistic, landscape, and naturalistic interests; in some cases they add a bit of spirituality, fun, or gastronomic curiosity, in short, nothing is missed!
- Toscana Pride – Born from associations and organized groups that deal with LGBTQ+ issues in order to promote their full citizenship. They intend to transform the indignation, the fear and the anger of the abuses and the discrimination into a constructive participation. 10,000 people full the old town of Florence annually in June / July to demonstrate queer solidarity, visibility and to have a fun time! Much still need to be to progress LGBT rights politically in Italy, so there is still very much an activist presence to Toscana Pride.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Florence Italy
While politically Italian LGBT rights are lacking, gay travelers are still unlikely to experience any issues in the hotels of Florence. After all being gay-friendly is about simply providing a non-judgmental and respectful environment in which all people are treated equally. Elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone though! Florence is a year-round travel destination, so the best hotels do fill up fast. You should try book yours in as early as possible.
There are however a few stand-out hotels in Florence that are go-to hot spots for gay travelers…and really, doesn’t everyone like to be surrounded by people with common interests! These are the hotels we have checked out and included here. Florence’s merited reputation as a dream destination getaway doesn’t come cheap. There are no exclusively gay hotels in Florence, but small, gay-owned properties around town make a tempting option to stay in Florence, not only for their lower prices but for advice on the gay nightlife. For us, however, Florence is the center of extravagance, indulgence, and style so, as they say, “When in Rome. . . “
There are hundreds of other good hotel option in Florence if you don’t find what you are looking for but we are confident you’ll find something here for you. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Florence as something for everyone!
- Continentale – Lungarno Collection ☆☆☆☆ – A dynamic, high fashion and oh-so-romantic luxury hotel in Florence. Inspired by the vibrant energy of the 50’s, this contemporary hotel overlooking the Arno river offers hip rooms with leather furnishings, black-and-white art, and canopy beds. Not enough? Dine at the trendy restaurant, lounge on the surreal rooftop bar with city views, or indulge at the chic spa. Ferragamo-designed, this is a modern counterpoint to all the classic pensiones and old-world hotels of Florence – And we love it!
- Il Salviatino ☆☆☆☆☆ – A glitz restored 15th-century villa offering opulent, individually decorated rooms just out of town. Il Salviatino has a museum-worthy cache of 19th-century frescoes, beautiful antique bathtubs and an extensive art collection and views of the Florentine skyline and the surrounding countryside. One of the most beautiful hotels in the world, the offer premium treatment rooms, a full gym, library, landscaped parkland and free shuttle service to Florence. But if you manage to drag yourself away from the luxe pool, we will be impressed!
- Four Seasons Hotel Firenze ☆☆☆☆☆ – Overlooking the Giardino Della Gherardesca, this palatial hotel offers absolute luxury all in the heart of Gay Florence. Opulent rooms featuring reproduction antique furnishings, frescoed ceilings, and individually styled suites are just the beginning….There are three elegant restaurants with upscale bars, an outdoor hot tub seasonal pool and 2-story world-class spa offers massages and beauty treatments. It does not come cheap, but the Four Season Florence is sure to leave you gagging!
- Grand Hotel Minerva ☆☆☆☆ – A sophisticated hotel ideally located in Florence historic center, nearby the Santa Maria Novella Square! Every gay-popular, thanks to its rooftop swimming pool and sun terrace with fabulous views, we also loved the marble bathrooms, balconies, 4-poster beds, exceptional breakfast buffet and modern gym.
- Hotel Glance In Florence ☆☆☆☆ – Located in the heart of Florence near the central market, Glance Hotel is housed in a building designed by renowned architect Italo Gamberini in the early 1950s. Elegant multi-functional areas, perfect for cosmopolitan travelers, create a warm, peaceful atmosphere that welcomes all guests: gay, straight or unicorn. We especially loved the rooftop pool with breathtaking views of the Florence skyline and stylish rooms equipped with everything needed for a comfortable stay including extra-large showers and daily turndown service. What more could you want?
- Hotel Milù ☆☆☆☆ – A newly renovated, charming boutique hotel – complete with inspiring art gallery – and all in the best location in Gay Florence. Fashionable, sophisticated and art-full, this gay-popular hotel offers a minimalist vibe, rainfall showers, and relaxing balconies. The 22 individually designed rooms embody the essence of understated style and luxury, spanning across the five-floor property but what we really loved was the focus on the hyper-local and the thought that went into every corner of this world-class hotel.
- Corona D’Italia ☆☆☆ – An affordable gay-friendly hotel in Florence housed in a beautiful 19th-century palazzo. The rooms with terracotta floors and traditional Tuscan-style furnishings are simple, the staff helpful and the location close to the train station makes getting in and out a breeze.
- Dei Mori Bed and Breakfast ☆☆☆ – A basic room in the absolute center of everything. Affordable prices, sound-proofed, a cute little terrace space and nice views from most rooms. A traditionally furnished accommodation perfect for keeping costs down and seeing all the main sights of Florence with easy.
- Bears & Breakfast ☆☆☆ – Stefano and Massimo, two fun-loving bears offering rooms in their typical neo-renaissance style Florentine building. Delightful breakfast paired with warm and friendly accommodation – and the chance to discover the real beary side of Florence and Tuscany. Whats not to love?
- Plus Florence Hostel ☆☆ – A lively hostel which focusses on sustainable, and prides itself on being open to all. Offering open-minded travelers everything needed for an unforgettable break, sharing both spaces and experiences with other travelers. We are in love with the rooftop terrace chill-out space and pool. If you want an LGBT friendly space just to relax, be yourself, make new friends and to save some euros, this is the place to go!
Gay Nightlife in Florence
Florence might be hot during the day, but after sundown, things get even hotter here! Gay bars in Florence are few and far between as locals prefer mixed venues and dance events, so while things can get crazy fun – don’t expect anything like Prague, Valencia, Lisbon or Paris.
A great way to begin the night is by heading to the Gay Street next to the Colleseum, designated as a gay- and lesbian-friendly neighborhood in 2007 and enjoying the bars here. After this, gay club parties in Florence are all the rage with different locations every evening, but we have only listed the most popular and fabulous, as there are almost too many to count!
Use our Gay Florence Map at the end if you’re lost, but there is plenty of plenty of bars, cocktail lounges, drag shows and bear dens littered across Florence to satisfy even the most discerning of gay travelers. If you are going to party, be aware that many gay dance parties in Florence are sadly closed in the summer months (from July-September).
Gay Bars In Florence
- Queer – A relatively new gay bar in Florence with American styling, expertly crafted cocktails and pop/house music. Found in the Santa Croce neighborhood, Queer is based on the concept of free expression that does not categorize – so everyone is welcome to come to relax here, enjoy their cheap drink specials and laid-back vibes. The perfect place to organize a meetup and start a bigger night out in Gay Florence.
- Piccolo Cafè – A small but fun gay bar with throwback vibes, funky pink lighting and a full selection of cocktails, beer, and wine. Great lively buzz and weekend nights are busy when the DJ spins mainstream international and Italian tunes, and the boys pack in. Gay Italians can be a bit weird however and if you go here by yourself don’t expect to make too many friends – People come to chat with their friends and rarely socialize or even say hi to other people in gay bars in Italy. It can get so busy here, the crowds spill outside, this why the area is often known as the small “Florence gay street.”
- Tenax – Enticing the city’s chicest crowds for over two decades, gays, straights, and unicorns gather and mix at Tenax to dance the night away. Renowned DJs frequently make appearances, making Tenax a good go-to place for a night of partying in Florence.
Gay Parties In Florence
- Fairy Gold @ Full UP – A Saturday night dance party held between September – April with Italian, pop and house music. Popular with the young and fabulous, this epic LGBT+ party features rooms of pure fun, in the heart of the city. Fun people, funky music, and fabulous drag are guaranteed to ensue!
- Mamamia @ Viper Theatre – The boys behind the famous Mamamia parties in the beachside town of Torre del Lago have brought their fabulous beach parties to Florence during the winter months – and occasionally for other one-off events. Welcoming to everyone across the LGBT+ spectrum, these fierce parties have epic shows, plenty of laser, music, and drag.
- Bossy @ Soul Kitchen – If you want to dance all night on a Thursday, this gay-popular party in the center of Gay Florence is the place to go. Hipster-cool crowds stuff this stylish cocktail bar for a night of delicious drinks, laid-back vibes and an eclectic mix of deep House and electro funk.
- Gulp – A new gay & friends events in Florence born from the idea of creating evenings without any label. From this principle, the Gulp evenings are always new and always in continuous transformation. They combine artistic music, live performances and the desire just to be together. Every evolving, check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.
- Necessariamente @ Auditorium FLOG – The frequent gay parties in Florence and surrounding area organized by Action Gay and Lesbian, a non-profit association founded with the aim of defending the rights and improving the quality of life of lesbian, gay and trans. There is always a different show, either musical, plays, cabaret, live music or special moments of social propaganda on issues the local community is focussed on. The production values are world-class, and the music ranges from pop to techno to trash-camp. Necessariamente events are the biggest gay parties in Florence and are not to be missed.
- XTRA Revolutionary Clubbing – A steamy new circuit party taking Italy by storm with frequent events in Florence. A new way to party dedicated to gay boys with progressive / pop sound music and plenty uninhibited guys … in shorts, jocks or shirtless! Hundreds, if not thousands, attend their events and nobody leaves disappointed – This is a world-class international gay party and not to be missed!
Gay Saunas in Florence
Had enough of gay cruising in Florence – either in the bars or elsewhere? For those who want a bit more guaranteed action, then there is only one gay sauna in Florence, though luckily it is pretty good! Foreigners are typically welcoming throughout the Florence gay scene, but many guys don’t speak English in the saunas so you’ll need to be good at reading non-verbal cues. Luckily we have our first-time gay sauna guide to help!
Like everywhere else in Italy, a membership card is required for entry to all gay cruise bars, saunas, and even some gay parties in Florence – usually the ANDDOS card. Don’t worry; you can easily get one at the entrance of the venues that actually require the card, showing photo ID and paying a fee. The card is valid for one year.
- Florence Baths – Open daily from 1 pm to 2 am with a swimming pool in the garden; the Florence Baths are one of the most popular gay places to be in summer during tourist season when other venues might be quieter as locals skip town. We loved the cruise garden and large whirlpool, but there is also steamy showers, both a Finnish sauna and Turkish bath, cabins, and bar. Florence Baths also provide some of the best gay massages in Florence, and their staff are excellent.
Gay Cruising and Fetish Clubs in Florence
If the bars or gay parties in Florence are too vanilla for you, perhaps these fetish clubs and cruise lounges are a better fit? There are only two options in Gay Florence, but each is worth visiting if you wish to play harder. Use our Gay Florence map at the end to find the closest to you.
- FABRIK Firenze – If you are willing to make the short trip to Calenzano you will be rewarded with a hot, all-men club complete with American bar, video-cabins, and a large cruising area. Housed in a large former industrial building, this action-packed cruising playground for gay men holds frequent events including BlackOut Night, HardSexParty and Sweat parties – check their website for details. Foreigners need to take their passport and can purchase ANDDOS membership at the door. Yes, we are not a fan of this policy either – but it would not be Italy without bureaucracy.
- Crisco Club – More centrally located with popular gay cruise & fetish club in Florence has been running for over 20 years, and is still going strong! Check their website in advance as the venue switches between a gay cruising spot and LGBT friendly nightclub with LGBT underwear and naked parties. It can be a bit confusing to turn up and find DJ (and women) upstairs, but the downstairs maze area is dark, dingy and fabulously seedy always.