The Ultimate LGBTQ+ Honeymoon Guide to Rome

With around 9 million annual visitors, the ancient city of Rome is clearly a bucket list travel destination. Overflowing with history, finger-lickingly delicious food, and magnificent architecture, it’s also perfect for an activity-filled romantic honeymoon for any couple. While Italy hasn’t legalized same-sex marriage, it doesn’t feel like it–at least in Rome. The city buzzes with all kinds of people, speaking languages from all over the world, and affectionate couples of all gender configurations romancing each other.

Rome has held a gay pride parade for over 10 years, annually every June, and while there is no designated “gaybourhood,” Via San Giovanni in Laterano has come to be known as “gay street” with a few bars and other attractions, and other queer-owned and queer-friendly establishments across the city.

From June through September, Rome hosts the Summer Gay Village, a massive outdoor festival. Over 200,000 people attend a variety of events and activities, including dancing, drag shows, cinema, dinner theaters, and even literature events. There’s something for nearly anyone.

A 2019 survey found that 68% of Italians agree that queer people should have the same rights as straight people, while 27% disagreed. For context, a 2020 survey found that 69% of Americans felt that LGBT people should have non-discrimination protections.

Whether you are planning a short stint or a lengthly visit, Rome has something to do—and eat!—for even the most discerning traveler.

What to Do

Private Driving Tour: With so much to do and see in Rome, a private guided tour is an ideal way to lay the groundwork and not miss anything. The Tour Guy’s tour of Rome will whisk you away in a private van with a driver, a tour guide, and, most importantly, air conditioning, to show you the best of the city. Since this is a private tour, you can request an LGBT focus when you are booking. You’ll stop at the Pantheon, a Roman temple-turned-breathtaking circular church that’s not to be missed. There’s a massive colony of cats that you’ll glimpse on your drive, as the tour guide shares interesting facts about everything around you. You’ll even get a lesson on how to find excellent gelato and get a scoop while you’re at it.

 

 

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Walking Tour: If you’d rather walk and learn about the ancient and modern history of homosexuality in Rome, book the Secret Roman History LGBT Walking Tour. You’ll have a live guide to ask questions during the three-hour walking tour, and see places like the gravesite of Francesco Bracci, who was Michelangelo’s lover, as well as the Imperial Forum and the Basilica of St. Peter in Chains. The tour ends on “Gay Street” and includes a drink at Rome’s top gay pub.

Big Bus Tour: Rome is filled with history. If a private guided tour isn’t in your budget or not your style, the open-air double-decker buses are where it’s at. For a fairly small price, you’ll float above the cars, taking in the sites while listening intently to the recorded tour on the provided headphones. If you prefer not to plan every moment of your trip, the double-decker bus tour allows you the opportunity to hop off to see anything that strikes your fancy and hop back on the bus when you’re all done exploring. The Big Bus Tour currently only operates Friday through Sunday.

 

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Roman Food Tour: A food tour counts as something to do, right? You see, Rome is full of touristy restaurants and pizzerias, many of which aren’t actually that good. Going on the highly-rated The Roman Food Tour allows you to sample the best food at the places that the locals enjoy, setting up your dining plans for the rest of your stay. And sample you will—the best water buffalo mozzarella, several kinds of melt in your mouth Prosciutto, handmade pasta, tiramisu, pizza, and lots more. The tour guide is knowledgeable and funny, weaving history and food facts with delicious cuisine and some fast-paced walking. My wife and I weren’t the only queer couple on this tour, which was a nice change of pace.

The Colosseum: Even if architecture isn’t your thing, the Colosseum is something you shouldn’t miss while visiting Rome. Not only is it magnificent, but it’s also the largest amphitheater ever built in ancient times and the largest currently standing. There are a number of ways to tour the Colosseum, depending on your preferences. You can join an organized live tour, a specially run architecture tour, a recorded self-guided tour, or you can just buy a regular ticket and explore on your own. There is even a tour with an LGBT-specific focus. Keep in mind, it’s extremely hot in the colosseum, with most of the touring area under the beating sun. Wear sunscreen and bring a bottle of water.

Where to Stay

St. Regis Hotel: Rome is filled to the brim with hotels, but none quite as fabulous or dramatic as the St. Regis. A Marriott property, the hotel was originally designed with the very first public ballroom and elevator, and it welcomes you in with high ceilings and an airy feel that’s both jaw-droppingly beautiful and welcoming. The hotel has a spa on its highest floor, so be sure to make your reservations in advance if you plan on dropping by. Breakfast is available and served in an inner garden courtyard. After a long day exploring the city, the plush beds and room-darkening curtains offer the perfect place to end the evening.

The St. Regis Rome

 

Lisella B&B: For a budget-friendly bed and breakfast, consider the LGBT-owned Lisella B&B. The rooms even have air conditioning, a rarity for European budget accommodations. It’s centrally located, just a few stops from the main train station, where you can take a train anywhere in Italy you might desire and a 20-minute walk from the Colosseum.

What to Eat and Drink

Imàgo: If you are looking for a truly luxurious dining experience, you’ll want to go to the Michelin-starred Imàgo. Located right next to the Spanish Steps—plan to take a lovely walk after dinner—Imàgo sits on the sixth floor of the Hassler Hotel. The hotel boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that offer diners the most impressive panoramic view of the city. If the view and romantic ambiance wasn’t enough, the food features cutting-edge gastronomy, where nothing is quite what it seems, yet somehow tastes remarkable. The flavors and textures are taken to their limits, so your dining experience is truly one of a kind.

 

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When stepping into Imàgo, let go of any ideas you might have of what food should look like, what textures it might have, or the form which it takes. The restaurant positively turns those ideas on their heads, taking this meal from a luxurious dinner to a magnificent, memorable experience.

Bars & Clubs: Despite not having a centralized “gayborhood,” Rome is home to many queer bars and clubs for your entertainment. Located on “Gay Street,” Coming Out Roma is a popular bar that’s open for lunch, dinner, and late-night drinks. My Bar Roma is a cross between a cafe, bar, and club, serving breakfast and lunch, boasting a small dance floor, and a large selection of beer and cocktails served until late into the night. For drag shows, check out the Alibi Club.

Paciotti Salumeria: For the best prosciutto you’ve ever tasted, and lots of other cured meat varieties, you should visit Paciotti Salumeria. Just walking into the place is an experience. The walls and entryway are filled with cured pig hind legs, and the tantalizing smell of salt, smoke, meat, and cheese fills the air. The business is family-run, with multiple generations working side by side producing high-quality cured meat and curating the best Italian jams, spreads, dips, crackers, and wine.

Rome is simply magnificent. You’ll remember your visit fondly, leaving with a satisfied belly, lots of pictures, and a renewed appreciation for history, art, food, and architecture.

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