The Other Rome---Europe's Gay Village
Publication: Windy City Times Chicago (Read)
Date Published: 9/8/2008
Almost everyone knows the expression “Rome Wasn't Built In A Day” and wandering around this ancient city you will soon realise that it will take several days just to visit a few of the numerous historic sights and monuments. The Eternal City---as Rome is renowned--- is perhaps the only urban center in the world where you stroll along an ordinary street and turn the corner to be confronted by the massive Roman Colosseum. Or perhaps you are taking a leisurely walk along a narrow cobbled lane and at the end of the street is a piazza with the magnificent Trevi fountains right before your eyes.
But Rome has much more to offer than simply the well-known tourist attractions. Mussolini's home and gardens are soon to be open to the public for the first time since his death and the Auditorium Parco Della Musica is a modern day amphitheatre dedicated to arts and music which is also the host of Rome's gay and lesbian film festival every year. There is in fact The Other Rome comprised of lesser-known but equally fascinating and historic sights to enjoy.
But for the past six years Rome is well known amongst Europe's GLBT communities for the annual Gay Village which is a popular element of the Estata Romana---Roman Summer---and is now a tourist attraction of this city. Although the influence of the Pope reaches far beyond the Vatican walls and Rome's gay night life may not be as robust compared to other European capitals, the Gay Village is a phenomenon. You might even see the advertising billboards for the Gay Village at major airports throughout Europe attesting to its widespread recognition.
Since 2002 a city park has been the venue for the festive Village and this year from June to September the Parco del Ninfeo---instead of at Parco delle Cascate as in previous years--- has been home to an open-air community of shops, cafes, bars, movies, performances, parties and more. Nestled amongst the trees and shrubbery, the Village compound is a hub of activity after dark on Thursdays and Fridays and all day long on Saturdays. One of this year's special attractions is a fitness centre including indoor cycling, reiki, volleyball and Tango. To appreciate the size and scope of this undertaking it should be noted that the estimated cost of Gay Village is $2.4 million. Sponsors have contributed $300,000 and the rest is expected to be made up by admission ticket sales and earnings from the shops, restaurants and bars in the Village. The Gay Village is located at the Parco del Ninfeo in the relatively new EUR Business District of Rome ( located at Via delle Tre Fontane and Via dell’Agricoltura) and is a little difficult to find but after searching for the location the gratifying gay rewards are immense. Almost every gay and lesbian Roman visits the village regularly throughout the summer and tourists make the trek from all over Europe to experience the sense of community, plus enjoy the parties and festivities.
As with so many major European cities Rome has several major parks to enjoy and the Parco Gianicolense is one of the largest and is located at the summit of one of the seven hills---la città dei sette colli---encapsulating Rome. Here you will not only find some of the most beautiful parkland and pathways to enjoy but also one of the most spectacular views of the city. Strolling around this large verdant acreage you will come across the Fonte Acqua Paola, the Porta San Pancrazio, the Garibaldi Monument and Piazza, the Faro al Giancolo clock tower and even an unusual view of the Vatican from this height which is spectacular at night time. Whether you are an amateur photo buff or not, the sights here will definitely prove to be worthy of a take-home memory. It is also a wonderful escape from the extreme summer heat of the city on any sumer day when you are searching for some cool breezes.
Another flight from the inevi