EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Rome Part Two
DAY 1: IN THE BEGINNING?
Slow to wake, Rome needs a good, shot-sized kick of caff? to get up (and at least three more to keep moving). Doing as the Romans do, hit up the local bar for a friendly fix and a cornetto, a flaky pastry similar to a croissant. Adequately caffeinated, take on the Colosseum, where once upon a time (before the gates were erected) this mammoth wonder of ancient Rome was also a gay cruising hotspot.
Stroll on to the adjacent Roman Forum and then the Circus Maximus, where you can imagine chariot races in front of the crumbled fa?ade of the Palatine Hill.
Catch a second caff? along the way to the Bocca della Verit?, or Mouth of Truth, in the 6th century church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Piazza della Bocca della Verit?). Do your best Audrey Hepburn and stick your hand in the mouth -- but don't tell a lie, or legend has it the mouth will bite it off!
Rome pretty much shuts down from early- to mid-afternoon as everyone takes an extended pausa, so cool your heels over a nice lunch with a carafe of wine. Back on the Forum's east side, Pizzeria Imperiale (Largo Corrado Ricci 37; +39-06-678-6871; 10-16 EUR), has great pizza -- al fresco in summer -- and an energetic, youthful atmosphere.
Completing most explorations of the ancient city are the expansive collections of Roman treasures at the Capitoline Museums (Piazza del Campidoglio 1; +39-06-0608).
As evening encroaches, head south across the Tiber and deeper into the medieval Trastevere district (literally, "Across the Tiber"). Sites here include the golden mosaics of the Santa Maria in Trastevere (Via di San Calisto) and the 13th-century fresco at the Basilica di Santa Cecilia (Piazza Di S. Cecilia 22).
Trastevere is also home to perhaps Rome's first gay restaurant, Ristorante Asinocotto (Via dei Vascellari 48; +39-06-589-8985; dinner entr?es: 18-20 EUR). The restaurant, which requires reservations, serves imaginative international riffs on Italian cuisine. The wine bar, a Roman-era cellar, houses the 200 or so labels on the wine list.
As at any restaurant, it's customary to order an appetizer, a pasta, a main dish, and coffee or grappa. Omitting is fine, but do not expect American-sized portions and main dishes ordered alone come without sides.
The student-oriented Trastevere area also contains a few gay nightlife options, such as the quiet and tasteful Garbo (Vicolo S. Margherita 1/a: +39-06-583-20782), which is good for snuggling in the corner or chatting up the locals. Nearby, the elegant Buca di Bacco (Via S. Francesco a Ripa 165) offers both cocktails and food, getting gayer in the evenings.