I’ve been told that Italy is not a gay couple’s first choice for a vacation, and yet in 2005 Out Traveler GPS it got the top reader’s choice gold medal award for best destination.
From the site: It surrounds the seat of the papacy in Vatican City, refuses to embrace gay tourism like the rest of Western Europe has, and requires a membership card to visit most of its gay bars—but no matter! The sumptuous food, the chic population, and the monumental (and frequently homoerotic) art all make it one of the gayest places in the world, even if she doesn’t know it herself. But Italy is still full of surprises: The Mafia-infested town of Gela in southern Sicily has an out (and Communist) mayor. Viva Italia!
I loved the “even if she doesn’t know it herself part. It’s true, even today you don’t see tons of openly gay people, even in Milan or Rome, but you can find them in the movies. Here are some movies that I have liked with either gay themes or just some nice gay characters. This is in no way a definitive guide and I invite readers to tell me about ones that I have missed.
Ferzan Ozpetek, a gay director and a transplant from Turkey is clearly the leader in gay Italian films, making really popular ones like Le fate ignoranti , the ignorant fairies, or as it’s been called in the US, His Secret Life. His Secret Life stars one of my favorite actresses, Margherita Buy, as a woman who discovers that her husband was gay only after he’s hit with a car and dies. As she uncovers the world that he’s hidden from her she finds a new one for herself. Available from Netflix (you can view it instantly) and Amazon, it’s a good place to start on an Italian gay movie tour.
Also from Ozpetek and easy to find in the US, La Finestra di Fronte, (Facing WIndows) with Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Raoul Bova, in a movie with a very powerful gay subplot about a holocaust survivor with Alzheimer’s disease who remembers just enough about his past to help an unhappy housewife find her way back to life. Available from Netflix and Amazon, you can read my review HERE.
One of Ozpetek’s that I wish would be released in the US: Mine Vaganti, Loose Cannons, with Riccardo Scamarcio, a definitely heterosexual but extremely good and good-looking actor that you’ll soon see in Woody Allen’s new movie, Nero Fiddled. Mine Vaganti is about a young man’s struggle to come out, used as a kind of symbol for an Italian culture struggling to deal with a changing society. You can’t view this one with a US DVD player but if you have a European one or region free DVD player, you can buy it from Amazon.
And one that I found disappointing, Saturno Contro (Saturn in Opposition), with a stellar cast that includes Margherita Buy, Stefano Accorsi, Pierfrancesco Favino, Filippo Timi, Luca Argentero and Ambra Angiolini, for god’s sake, still manages to suck, somehow. It has stilted dialogue and a contrived storyline but you can rent if from Netlix (and watch it instantly) , buy it from Amazon, and read my earlier review HERE.
One of my favorite gay storylines is in La Bestia Nel Cuore ( Don’t Tell ). In this one the lesbians are friends of the main character, who is dealing with memories of incest, and their relationship is sweet and even funny. Played by two really wonderful actresses, Angela Finocchiaro and Stefania Rocca, the women find each other and help pull each other out of the depression that they find themselves in. You can rent it from Netflix or buy it on Amazon, and read my earlier review HERE.
David’s birthday, Il compleanno, is lighter on the relationship and heavier on the sex in a story about a beach vacation that goes bad. A married man gets fixated on the handsome young model son of his best friends and isn’t able to show self-control, unfortunately. Rent it from Netflix (watch it instantly) , buy it from Amazon, and read my review HERE.
And in Io Sono L’amore ( I am love) there’s a lot going on in the Recchi family, but in the midst of all of it, the daughter, played by Alba Rohrwacher, comes out. With Tilda Swinton, this one is a great story all around and you can rent it from Netlfix (watch it instantly), buy it from Amazon, and read my review HERE.
What have I forgotten? Let me know…