Rome is queer — despite being the home of a faith that condemns homosexuality. The capital is simultaneously the world’s number one religious destination and also Italy’s gayest city; the two things can thankfully coexist.
In Rome, you’re just as likely to see a pair of nuns walking the streets as a local lesbian couple holding hands. It’s no secret that Italy is behind other leading European countries in terms of social rights for the LGBTQ+ community. However, the country has a thriving activism scene and notable politicians promoting civic equality.
The city center of Rome is a safe destination for LGBTQ+ tourists, as safe as any big metropolitan capital can be. Of course, there are places where being out and proud is safer than others. If you’re planning a trip to the city and would like to feel welcome and comfortable, here’s what you need to know to best enjoy your stay.
In 2023, Italy placed 34th out of 49 European countries on the scale of human rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Most of these only affect residents, not tourists. Italy decriminalized homosexuality in 1890 and legalized the right to change sex in 1982.
Unfortunately, gay marriage and same-sex adoptions are still not legal. Since 2016, the government has allowed same-sex civil unions, provided that the town’s mayor is willing to recognize the union. The European Union has urged the Italian government to pass a law protecting the community from targeted discrimination. The anti-homophobia law (DDL Zan) has been proposed but discarded multiple times in the past decade.
Despite the current situation of civil rights, the LGBTQ+ community can openly be out in Rome. We are out and proud, and have gay icons as some of our most beloved of artists, singers, actors, drag queens, designers, even politicians. We’ve never been more visible and represented, but there’s a long way to go for equality.
Today, the center of Rome is a haven of LGBTQ+ organizations who provide resources to the community, as well as gay establishments, art galleries, festivals, and so much more.
Rome’s city center generally is safe and friendly towards the LGBTQ+ community. Rome is a cosmopolitan city, visited by millions of people every year, and therefore attentive to inclusion. You’ll recognize gay-friendly places easily: rainbows grace the walls of many streets, stores, and cafes.
The most hipster neighborhood in Rome, Vanity Fair once described Pigneto as Rome’s own Brooklyn. Situated past San Giovanni in what 50 years ago felt like the outskirts of Rome, thanks to urbanization Pigneto has now become the beating heart of nightlife for young people and especially the LGBTQ+ community.
The pedestrian Via del Pigneto (Pigneto Street) is the home of the gayest establishments in Rome. It’s proudly tailored towards the queer community, as proven by the many gay flags flapping from store signs and in their logos. Pigneto is home to queer festivals and events and is a place where one can easily find community and be who they are, no matter how they identify.
The first segment of Via San Giovanni in Laterano (San Giovanni in Laterano Street) is popularly referred to as Gay Street. It’s one of the gayest parts of the city, with bars, restaurants and hotels by the gays and for the gays.
For decades, this has been the gathering point of the LGBTQ+ community, since at least the sixties and it’s still thriving today.
Another perk of Gay Street is its unique location, as it stems directly from the Colosseum, Rome’s most iconic and famous monument. The whole San Giovanni district is rather gay-friendly, despite its deep religious nature, with Rome’s biggest basilica within its walls.
Ostiense, San Paolo, Garbatella, Testaccio, and Trastevere
The neighboring districts of Ostiense, San Paolo, Garbatella, Testaccio and Trastevere are rather gay-friendly and open-minded. The first two are younger and more industrial neighborhoods, geared towards a more hipster population. Garbatella, Testaccio and Trastevere are older districts which in the past represented a more “authentic” Rome. Today, they are also tourist hotspots frequented by many study abroad students, but they haven’t lost their genuine roots.
Testaccio is home to Rome’s Gay Center, ArciGay and the Rainbow Wall, and it used to host the now permanently closed Gay Village. Ostiense is the home of the Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli and murals and benches honoring members of the LGBTQ+ community. Trastevere has various bars, circles, art galleries, and theaters for the community to gather, and temporary street art in almost every street and square in support of the community.
Places to steer clear of
As you’re moving through various neighborhoods and get progressively farther from the city center, you always want to be cautious. It’s best for members of the LGBTQ+ community to avoid districts Tor Bella Monaca, Romanina, San Basilio, and Corviale. That being said, it’s important to practice situational awareness at all times, anywhere. Rome is a metropolitan city, and while it may be unlikely to suffer violence based solely on one’s sexual orientation, it’s still important to be aware of one’s surroundings and belongings.
Tuba is a lesbian-owned bookshop, bar and feminist space in Pigneto. It often organizes cultural events and is a chill yet joyful place to go get a drink — especially for proudly self-dubbed social justice warriors and book lovers.
Magnoebevo e sto al Pigneto is a cozy queer bar in Pigneto with a somewhat industrial look. It is women-owned and has indoor and outdoor sitting, and a great menu of creative cocktails and finger food platters. It’s perfect for informal nights with friends and Sunday brunch. They’ve also opened a branch in Ostiense, if you fancy a change of scenery.
Coming Out is the most famous gay bar in Rome, open since 2001 in prime position right next to the Colosseum, at the beginning of Gay Street (Via di San Giovanni in Laterano). They serve drinks at all times to a wide clientele, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Right next to Coming Out is the second bar of Rome’s Gay Street, called simply My Bar. Welcoming and inclusive, open all day with outdoor seating on the sidewalk, it truly feels like everyone’s bar. You can go in for breakfast at 8:00 AM, for lunch or dinner, or for a drink until 2:00 AM.
101 Roma Club
101 Roma Club is a queer club for all in the Esquilino district (halfway between Termini Station and the Colosseum). On weekends, they often organize shows, lip sync battles, and more. The club opens every night at 11:00 PM and closes at 4:00 AM on Sunday — Thursday, and 5:00 AM on Friday — Saturday.
The Yellow Bar
The Yellow Bar is an LGBTQ+ friendly bar in Castro Pretorio (near Termini Station) open all day and nearly all night, from 7:30 AM until 3:00 AM. Other than serving great cocktails, they organize interactive parties in the evenings like all you can eat competitions, karaoke, beer pong tournaments, trivia quizzes, and dancing DJ sets. The Yellow Bar also functions as a queer-friendly hostel.
Check out Matador’s LGBTQ+ travel guides to Europe and the world
Roma Pride is one of the biggest annual Pride Parades in Europe. It usually falls on the first or second Saturday in June, kicking off Pride season and opening the floor for smaller Pride Parades all across Italy. Every year, there is one main headliner, usually a pop culture icon. In 2000, Rome hosted the first ever World Pride, which it might do again in the next couple of years…stay tuned.
La Pride Croisette
During summer in the ruins of the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Roma Pride organizes La Pride Croisette. It is a series of events related to LGBTQ+ culture, entertainment and politics. With special speakers and performers, the community can come together and discuss relevant topics as well as enjoy LGBTQ+ music and art.
Every Wednesday, Glamorize organizes a Gay Night, starting with aperitivo at 7:00 PM and continuing on with cocktails, dancing and dinner. They often have special guests performing, and always play great music. Check Glamorize’s website or Instagram to find out which venue will host its parties and if a special event has been organized on another night other than Wednesday.
Largo Venue is a famous location for live music in Pigneto. Every Friday starting June, it hosts its queer night, the iconic Latte Fresco. Music, dancing, drag shows, stand-up comedy, contests, performances, cinema, theatre, all in celebration of queer identities. Entry is free until 10:30 PM, after which there’s a $8 ticket. Largo Venue’s OBistrot also serves dinner all night long, as well as drinks. Check their Instagram to stay up to date with their program.
Frutta e Verdura
Starting at 11:30 PM every Saturday, the gay men party at Frutta e Verdura Club goes on until the late hours of the morning on Sundays. It’s Rome’s most famous afterparty.
In summer, the spacious Eur Social Park hosts GIAM’s Saturday nights in the outdoor location in the southern-most, modern district of Rome, EUR. It’s far from the center but reachable by metro or bus. The event is free entry, starting from 10:00 PM with music, and ample choice of food and drinks.
Possibly the longest-standing gay tradition in Rome, every Friday until May, Muccassassina hosts its fabulous and extravagant night at Qube Disco. An evening of music and drag shows, Muccassassina Fridays were born 33 years ago to support the initiatives of Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli.
We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
UnaHotels Roma Trastevere
In the heart of Trastevere, the four-star UnaHotel Roma is a queer-friendly stay in the city center. Trastevere is the heart of Roman restoration and nightlife, a short walk away from most historical sights. The hotel is brand new and has superb amenities.
Situated on Gay Street, by Rome’s most famous monument, First and Second Floor is a gay boutique hotel right above Coming Out. It has five apartments in a historic building, all the comforts you need, and a view of the Colosseum. Right in the city center, the apartments are a great place to base yourself thanks to the close-by Colosseum bus and metro stop.