The Veneto Region in Italy corresponds with the far Eastern side of the Country, on the Adriatic Sea, where the longest river of Italy, the Po, has its outlet.
Veneto features a long prestigious history, because of its capital, Venice. Its splendor goes back to Marco Polo, the adventurous traveler who reached China and wrote a milestone diary of his journey, ‘Il Milione’, ‘The Million’. Again in the XVII and XVIII centuries Venice was named the ‘Serenissima’, the most powerful of the maritime republics in terms of economy, sailing, military fleet and also for its magnificent architecture of noble palaces along the Grand Canal.
That was the time in which Venice mostly expressed itself, in terms of costumes and social habits. From the legendary lover ‘Casanova’ to the origin of a wide gay community in the XIX century. Along the centuries. the gay history of Venice has been in constant evolution. In the third century, homosexuals in Venice were severely punished, as infected with “beastly sodomy”. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the early Venetian Republic also participated actively in the campaign to eradicate homosexuals. Gradually fines reduced, by 1800, they were almost nominal. Venice became an attraction and a large and overtly gay community arrived in the city. At the time Byron arrived in Venice, most of the areas of Italy had eliminated criminal prosecution for sodomy.
The reason why Venice attracted a disproportionately large and overtly gay community was the absence of all criminal and civil laws proscribing sodomy. Because of its gay allure and romantic fascination, The great German novelist Thomas Mann was inspired here in writing his ‘Death in Venice’, the novel about a gay platonic romance about the old artist Gustav with a handsome fourteen-year –old boy, Tadzio. This impossible romantic homosexual love will never become a concrete love story and Gustav will die also for it.
The amazing Venetian Carnival was (and still is) still an expression of hidden ambiguity and disguising was (is) an accepted way of playing with gay sexuality, too.
Another notable town in Veneto is Verona, the city of love, of Romeo and Juliet but also of the Latin poet Catullus who wrote love poems called ‘Carmi’, clearly expressing his passion both for Lesbia and for Giovenzio. The rests of his house are to be seen in Sirmione, on Lake Garda. His homosexuality was not hidden; neither was the bisexuality of another great poet and dramatist, such as William Shakespeare, the author of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
It is not a casualty that the first Italian adults-only and completely gay-friendly hotel was established here on the Lake Garda: it is the Aqualux Hotel in Bardolino. A four-star hotel on the amazing shoreline of the Garda Lake, with spa and swimming pool, a place of relax amongst the famous Bardolino wine-cellars.