Explosive Italian action in Naples as OutUK’s Adrian Gillan takes it up Pompeii!

Neapolitan youths - young Romeos all - innocently couple and entwine upon mopeds, storming around town as if no tomorrow.

Meanwhile old Vesuvius, as in ancient times, sits poised ominously across the calmest of bays under a reddening moon.

Ah Naples, birthplace of pizza and piazzas, Caruso and arias, enchant me with your earthy passion and sultry ways.


The Bay of Naples and Vesuvius from the Hotel Paradiso.

You can’t help but get carried away by the raw, naďve ardour and drop-of-a-hat street-side drama of the unselfconsciously stylish Southern Italian males, lean and olive through open-air basking in Suns of home. Touch down and check ‘em out at the Caffe Letterario sprawling out into Piazza Bellini, especially Saturdays.

Many of the gay venues of Naples can be found in the grand yet claustrophobic Centro Storico (‘Historical Centre’), a delicious maze of palaces, piazzas, churches and backstreets.

As central and lost-in-time a place as can be, up an ancient half-lit street, step down into New Age in Via Atri, with its light and spacious bar lounge plus internet connections and adjoining dance floor and dark room. Freezer in Via F Lauria (note: shut August) is a lively and showy gay disco on Fridays just east of centre, attracting a stylish, excitable and mainly young crowd to its minimalist setting.

Back in the Centro Storico, major hub on the Naples scene of a Saturday night, is Bar B on Via G Manna (note: shut August) a cruisy gay disco on two levels, with ambient lounge upstairs and disco and numerous dark rooms downstairs lit by a giant screen showing porn. This is about the only gay venue in town where you won’t find any women.

Bar B miraculously converts over night into the celebrated Bar B Sauna on a Sunday, with multiple dark rooms, a Jacuzzi and private cabins. But many locals swear by the Blue Angel Sauna on Corso Meridionale - Naples’ oldest steam house, additionally offering Finnish saunas and Turkish baths.

So what of the time-honoured tradition of Italian cruising? They may have now fenced off the main bit of the Villa Comunale, a long stretch of parkland on the edge of the Bay, but safe nocturnal activity still occurs on its Viale Dohrn avenue, both by car and on foot in the nearby bushes. There’s also a fair bit of after-dark drive-by action in the Centro Direzionale district east of centre around the Holiday Inn.

Fancy a bit of culture? Then head out east of town to the amazing Ancient Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum – preserved in time courtesy of Vesuvius in AD79, and complete with brothels and wall murals depicting numerous naughty acts. Or visit the famous Gabinetto Segreto at the Museo Nazionale Archeologico (Piazza Museo 19 – note: shut Tuesdays) back in town - an adult-only collection of ancient porn, much of it from the two aforementioned sites including lots of gay sex and phallic things, plus a very expressive statue of Pan buggering a goat.

Get away from it all one day with a trip to the queer island haven of Capri, an hour by ferry from the Molo Beverello pier.

Once home to Emperor Tiberius and his many private orgies with young local lads and those specially shipped in to his now ruinous villa, it has been a gay mecca ever since – Oscar Wilde’s Bosie fled here after that infamous trial. The Hotel Weber Ambassador on Capri.
And check out the gay beach: take a short walk from the main town centre to the far side of the island, along the drastically winding Via Krupp - named after a German resident who built it and then killed himself following a gay scandal he couldn’t handle - until it straightens out at the bottom. Then dart down a track to the left to a place where, like the Sirens of old, naked men lure like-minded others onto the rocks.

Back in town gay bookshop Mercurio near Piazza del Plebiscito is well worth a visit for a mid-week afternoon browse. And Le Fontane al Mare is a cheap but stunningly positioned hotel over-looking the Bay, just a brisk walk from the gay scene, not least the Comunale cruising ground.

There are low-budget flights from the UK daily, and – since most tourists head straight for Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast – it’s completely unspoilt, and very cheap. But best avoid August when many venues, like much of Italy, simply shut down. Our hotel partners Bookings offer a wide range of gay-friendly hotels at special online prices.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Bar B (Via G Manna 14; T: 0039 081 287 681)
Bar B Sauna (Via G Manna 14; T: 0039 081 287 681)
Blue Angel Sauna (Corso Meridionale 1-3; T: 0039 081 562 5298)
Caffe Letterario (Piazza Bellini 70; T: 0039 081 290 720, 10am-3am daily)
Freezer (Via F Lauria 6; T: 0039 081 750 2457)
Le Fontane al Mare (Via N Tommaseo 14; T: 0039 081 764 3811)
Mercurio (Piazzetta Demetrio Salazar 8, nr Piazza del Plebiscito; T: 0039 081 240 0371)
New Age (Via Atri 36; T: 0039 081 295 808)

Revised June 2015.

 

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