Even if it is thought that gay travel is a contemporary trend, the truth is that it existed already from 18th and 19th century. It was especially invented in Italy with the Grand Tour.
Mainly Italy, Greece and other colonies offered the opportunity to travel in absolute freedom, away from mass tourism and because of the lack of wars and army troops.
The Gay Grand Tour
Often very long and very expensive, these tours were frequented by rich people and aristocratic familes. Families preferred to use big annuities to pay for expensive trips to send away “uncomfortable” children and relatives to let them express themselves in nations where it was be easier and more free to be gay.
From travel diaries, we can track the evolution of gay tourism which satisfied many tastes. The athletes went for the mountains and the Alps, and the health resorts that were located close to the hot springs. Many traveled to the the first bathing experiences originally in the Gulf of Liguria, the part of Italy now known as Cinque Terre but especially in Naples.
Along with these places there were more exclusive lifestyles such as Taormina, Siracusa and also the Gulf of Naples with the incredible island of Capri, a real gay paradise for the men of the 19th century.
But Naples more than any other city attracted gay tourists. Unlike rumors about the city, which seemed dangerous and inaccessible, here in Naples culture and science had reached its peak thanks to the city’s hotbed of artists, scientists and literati. The tourists who came to Naples were absolutely addicted by the beauty of the city that reverberated beauty, safety and intrigue.
The poorest people living on the streets often lived in prostitution, so for the wealthy tourists it was easy to find moments of relaxation in the upper-scale streets of the old city.
Moreover, the cost of low life had allowed tourism to move from northern Italy to the center and south.
Today, gay tourism has shifted from Italy to other areas where, unlike the past, they have now made much progress with gay rights. But gay Italian tourism has now found a new boost coming back to the south. Sicily and Apulia are now hot spots of LGBT tourism and have recently become popular destinations. The bigger cities, including Milan, offer a sparkling, open-minded and modern gay life.
Not only just for wealthy and aristocratic people, in Naples, San Vito lo Capo and Gallipoli every year there are masses of gay tourists pouring in seeking some of that regenerated beauty in the historic cities of the Mediterranean. The warm waters and mixture of different people has made it possible for anyone traveling to Italy, regardless of sexual orientatios to feel free to express themselves and live their own experiences.