Your LGBTQ+ Florence Travel Guide
Florence is one of the most popular destinations for students (and LGBTQ+ students!) studying abroad, and it’s easy to see why. One of Italy’s cultural hubs, it’s filled with museums and galleries containing Rennaisance masterpieces, cafes and restaurants with tables that spill into the streets and piazzas, and architecture that is bound to make you swoon.
Are you Florence-bound and LGBTQ+?
While Italy in general may not be as far along as other countries in Western Europe when it comes to embracing LGBTQ+ culture, Florence is another story. With a wide range of cultural, artistic, and political activities available, it’s one of the most exciting destinations for LGBTQ+ students to study abroad.
This LGBTQ+ guide to Florence has everything you need to know about what the city is like, where to find like-minded people, and the year’s biggest and best LGBTQ+ cultural events.
What LGBTQ+ Life is Like in Florence
As one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in Italy, you won’t have a problem with public displays of affection (PDA) or other expressions of queer culture in Florence. People in Florence tend to be quite liberal and open-minded, and are generally accepting of LGBTQ+ culture. There are plenty of LGBTQ+ institutions, and you can look forward to celebrating your identity at well-known museums and cafes, and exciting events like the Florence Queer Festival.
Do keep in mind that the same may not be true of the surrounding towns and villages. Italy is a fairly conservative country, especially outside the major metropolitan areas. The parliament has repeatedly voted down marriage equality and other protection acts, but has added some protections for those in civil unions.
Where to Visit
While there isn’t really one LGBTQ+ neighborhood in Florence, there’s a cluster of establishments in the Santa Croce area and throughout the highly walkable historic center. Check out some of these spots to engage with the LGBTQ+ history and community of Florence.
There are hundreds of works on display in the Accademia Gallery, but most people come by to see Michelangelo’s David. The whole concept of being “gay” wouldn’t be codified for another 400 years, but Michelangelo certainly made no secret of his relationships with men. His focus on the muscular male form can be seen in most of the city’s major galleries, but his David sculpture is the height of his work.
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
For a different portrayal of David, head to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Sculpted in the 1430s, Donatello’s David is slim and sinewy, thrusting out a hip in a way that seems provocative today. The artist — one of the first in Florence to make no excuses for his attraction to men — intentionally made the statue androgynous because this was the ideal of masculine perfection at the time.
With one of the world’s most dazzling collections of Renaissance art, the Uffizi Gallery should be one of your first stops in Florence. It’s worth taking a special tour of the works with special meaning for LGBTQ+ people. Once you know what to look for, it’s not hard to see the queer undertones of works like Caravaggio’s Bacchus (the model was the painter’s lover, Mario Minnitti) or Gabbiani’s Abduction of Ganymede (that eagle is actually the god Zeus in disguise). The statue of the Sleeping Hermaphrodite — the mythological child of Hermes and Aphrodite — is one of the gallery’s lesser-known gems.
Bossy at Soul Kitchen
This modern cafe hosts an LGBTQ+ event called “Bossy” on Thursday nights. Stop by for apertivos and dinner, and look forward to mingling with LGBTQ+ students, creatives, artists and performers.
LGBTQ+ Associations and Groups
Azione Gay e Lesbica
In English called “Gay and Lesbian Action,” this is a non-profit organization founded with the aim of defending the rights and improving the quality of life for LGBTQ+ people. They have a well-stocked library of LGBTQ+ books and the volunteers put on events including theater, live music, movie nights, debates and community actions.
This informal group organizes LGBTQ+ community experiences to explore nature and culture in Florence. The group plans a wide array of activities but centers around trekking and exploring the natural landscape.
Gruppo Giovani GLBTI* Firenze
This group meets to focus on themes surrounding self-training, confrontation, self- awareness and knowledge. Check out upcoming events via their Instagram page.
Florence Queer Festival
Held at Cinema La Compagnia, along with other venues around the city, this weeklong celebration in September dives into queer movies, videos, theater, photography, literature, debates, and just about any other type of art and culture you can imagine.
Celebrated in Florence and all over the region — including Arezzo, Pisa, Pistoia, and Siena — this week of festivities is the don’t-miss event every June. There is often a march to demonstrate queer solidarity and visibility through the historic center of Florence, and the festival is capped off with a parade through the street of Livorno, about 90 minutes from Florence. There’s an activist side to the celebration, as organizers are committed to making sure LGBTQ+ people are “part of the political discussion.”
LGBTQ+ students can look forward to exploring and celebrating their identity in this queer friendly city.
Whether you’re just coming out or are eager to connect more with LGBTQ+ students, culture, and community, you are sure to find a home in Florence!
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