Bologna Gay Travel Guide & Map 2019

About Bologna and its gay life

Bologna was founded by the Etruscans 2500 years ago. In the 13th century it became the sixth biggest city in Europe, and in the 15th century it was an important Italian Renaissance city. Today, Bologna is a major industrial center and transport hub in Italy and hosts some of the biggest and most prominent trade fairs and exhibitions in Europe. It is also the home of the famous Lamborghini and Maserati sports cars.

One of the main attractions that make Bologna a special place (and a dream for travellers who like to explore a city by strolling around its streets) are the arcades (›porticos‹) in the historical center of Bologna, totalling 38 kilometres.

But above all, today's face of Bologna is shaped by its university and its students. Founded in 1088, the university is the oldest one in Europe. And the 80000 students in the city represent a fifth of the total population of Bologna. An evening in the lively student area around Piazza Guiseppe Verdi and Via Zamboni is an experience not to be missed.

Bologna has also the most tolerant and open-minded atmosphere throughout Italy. One reason for this – beside the many students – is that Bologna had been ruled by the centre-left almost all the years after World War II. And although the gay scene in Bologna is quite ›concise‹ the local authorities afford a LGBT center, the Cassero, that is unparalleled in Italy and even most of the gay hot spots in Europe.

As elsewhere in Italy, a membership card is required for all gay cruise bars and saunas as well as for some gay parties. Often that is the ARCO (Anddos) or Arcigay card. In Bologna, the Arcigay card is also required for the community center Cassero. If you don't have the card yet, you can usually acquire it at the entrance of the venues that require the card. When you acquire the card you need to show your photo ID, after that you only need the membership card.

For Italy, see also our gay guides for Rome, Milan and Florence.

Accommodation Tips

Hotel. ****, from 55 €
Non-smoking hotel in an historic building with private courtyard, 10-15 minutes to walk to the city center.
@ Via Luigi Serra 7
Bologna 40129
Hotel. ****, from 70 €
Located in the historic center, with view of the roofs and medieval towers of Bologna from the hotel's roof-top terrace.
@ Via Zamboni 16
Bologna 40126

Gay Bars

Monday 17:00 – 01:00; Tuesday-Thursday 17:00 – 02:00; Friday 17:00 – 03:00; Saturday 18:00 – 03:00; August closed
Queer cafe-bar in the center of Bologna. With aperitivo, foosball table, art exhibtions, performances and other small cultural events.
Mixed clientele.
@ Via del Borgo di San Pietro 26/a
Bologna 40126

Gay Clubs and Parties

The LGBT center Cassero hosts various parties on some Saturdays and occasionally on other days (see the calendar at the Cassero website).
Worth a visit if only for the beautiful space in the large basement vault.
Usually not busy before 01:00, but then often with a long queue to get in.
The Cassero requires the Arcigay membership card which can be acquired at the entrance.
@ Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 18
Bologna 40121

Saturday 23:30 – 05:00 (September – early July)
Gay dance club with bars, outdoor area, smoking room and (from approx. 02:00) cruising labyrinth.
Located in the Roveri industrial area, approx. 5 km outside of Bologna (at night you can get there only by car).
The music and shows vary from week to week depending on the specific party – current program on the Red Club website.
Mixed ages.

Admission: 12-15 € (+ ARCO/ENTES membership card)
@ Via del Tipografo 2
Bologna 40138

Gay Cruising Clubs

In Italy, a membership card is required for all gay cruise bars and saunas. Often that is the ARCO (Anddos) or Arcigay card. If you don't have the card yet, you can usually acquire it for 5-17 € at the entrance of the venues that require the card. When you acquire the card you need to show your photo ID, after that you only need the membership card.

Monday 21:30 – 03:00; Wednesday, Thursday 21:30 – 02:30; Friday, Saturday 22:30 – 05:30; Sunday 21:30 – 02:30
Men-only gay bar with a relaxed, social and no-attitude atmosphere.
In the basement with cruising labyrinth.
Best on Friday night.
Admission: 10-15 €, incl. first drink
@ Via Polese 47/A
Bologna 40121

Gay Saunas

Daily 14:00 – 24:00; Friday, Saturday till 01:00
Clean and pleasant gay sauna in Bologna.
Mixed ages.
Very popular on Sunday afternoon/evening.
Admission: 16 €
@ Via Ferrarese 22/i
Bologna 40128

Daily 11:30 – 23:30
Old gay sauna, reported to be not very clean.
Rather mature clientele.
The ARCO and Arcigay cards are not accepted here. ID required and some knowledge of Italian.
Admission: approx. 17 € + ~5 € membership card
@ Via Cesare Boldrini 16 (in the courtyard on the left)
Bologna 40121

Shops

Monday-Friday 10:00 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 19:30; Saturday 10:00 – 13:00
International LGBT+ bookshop.
@ Via Santa Croce 10
Bologna 40122

Services

Bologna's LGBT centre and also headquarter of the Italian organization Arcigay. Best source to get information and flyers for current and upcoming gay and cultural events in Bologna.
The center is built into one of the medieval gates of Bologna – thus, both the inside and open-air spaces of the center have a very special atmosphere and are worth a visit.
@ Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 18
Bologna 40121

Tuesday, Thursday 18:00 – 21:00
HIV and Hepatitis rapid tests and other sexual health services, run by the local NGO Plus onlus since 2015.
Free of charge. Appointment by phone recommended.
@ Via San Carlo 42/C
Bologna 40122