Every spring my partner and I attend a meeting in Milan. This year we fly into Rome and spend four days there. Can you recommend some smaller towns, hotels, B&Bs, between Rome and Milan that are gay-friendly or gay-owned?
?Ira Shivitz, via e-mail
Italy is surprisingly devoid of a huge gay infrastructure in contrast to other European countries, despite its overwhelming popularity with gay tourists. This is especially true in cities like Rome, where gay bars can feel like hidden, clandestine speakeasies! However, the one thing Italy has going for it (particularly outside of the cities) is a plethora of gay-owned villas, guesthouses, and bed-and-breakfasts. Driving from Rome northward to Milan, you?d be remiss to not journey through the celebrated central provinces of Tuscany and Umbria, home to well over a dozen gay-owned and gay-marketed restored villas and manor houses in lush, bucolic settings. For instance, gay-owned Il Gallo Rosso (IlGalloRosso.com) near the medieval village of Parrano in Umbria rents out snazzy one-bedroom apartments in a renovated brick house, with pool and gorgeous countryside views. Tuscany?s Le Masse (LeMasse.it) is a restored country manor built in 1700, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, located within an archaeological park with ruins of a first-century Roman villa. This swanky gay-owned property has two swimming pools and self-catering apartments or B&B-style rooms.
My partner and I want to take a gay cruise, but we don't want to be with too many young boy toys. We are middle-aged and we would like to be with men our age (40s, 50s, 60s) who are more on the professional and successful side.
?Phil Dunn, via e-mail
Gay cruises have come a long way since floating party boats were the only option. If you're looking for other professional, destination-minded couples, consider joining a small gay group booked onto a luxurious mainstream cruise through a company like Pied Piper Travel (Home.att.net/~gaygroupcruises) or Above and Beyond Tours (AboveBeyondTours.com). If total gay immersion is the goal, the RSVP brand (now owned by Atlantis Events) tends to attract more older passengers than Atlantis, but bypassing Caribbean lineups for glacier-lined Alaska or cool northern European routes also changes the shipscape?you'll find all ages on board, but the chill factor keeps everyone in their shirts and makes for a less party-oriented experience. (For more first-time gay cruise ideas, see our "Travel Milestones" feature in this issue, pages 62-65.)
I travel extensively and rely on your magazine to guide me to gay-friendly destinations. The articles are well-written and highly useful, and my only complaint is that I, as a Chinese-American, would like to see more minorities in your issues. We are a diverse group, and it would be nice to see that in your publication. Please keep up the great work. --Mick Wong, Esq., Los Angeles
One of your readers pointed out in the Winter 2007 issue that most travelers don't go on spending sprees. But some do. In fact, I was just in Milan, and I actually tore out a page from your Fall 2007 issue to use as a guide. I followed Raphael Kadushin's directions and found myself in shopping heaven. I did a lot of window-shopping, but I also spent more than $3,000 on clothes at Prada. I plan to go back to Milan next spring. I live in Oregon andI can only handle so much Old Navy. You guys do a great job.
--Han Truong, Portland
Thanks so much for showcasing Athens, Ga., as one of your 10 "Liberal Enclaves." I lived in Athens for 10 years and can truly say that it is a best-kept secret. Two things, though: Boneshakers has closed, but a new nightspot,Club Detour at 227 W. Dougherty St., has opened and is very popular. Also, any mention of Athens would not be complete without mentioning the Boybutante Ball (Boybutante.org). The annual spring fund-raiser, now in its 19th year, sells out and has raised over $300,000 for AIDS support services in northeast Georgia. Think Mardi Gras, Halloween, and circuit party all rolled into one, then add a dash of college boys and girls. --Vernon Wall, Washington, D.C.
You came close to describing my typical weekend in my hometown in your article "Three Gay Days in Denver." [I'd also suggest] an early Saturday lunch at The Earl of Sandwich, a Sunday brunch at Racines restaurant, a stroll through Cheesman Park, and the gay-owned Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Hooray for Denver and life on Capitol Hill!
--Tim Calahan, Denver
St. Barts has everything a gay man could want?uncrowded, small gorgeous hotels or fabulous villas, great shopping, unbelievable food, and many white sand beaches, including Saline, which is unofficially gay at one end and clothing optional if you like. To top it off, the gorgeous, tanned French men and women natives are very easy on the eye. My partner and I have gone for years and always feel comfortable as a couple showing public affection. The only downsides are the terrifying flight onto the island, driving around hairpin cliffs, and the fact that it is very, very, very expensive. Avoid Christmas and New Year's, as it is a fashionista zoo.
--Andrew Mitchell, Westport, Conn.