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
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.