Pride month is approaching fast! To honour this event and to celebrate diversity in my hometown, I would love to share this guide to gay Milan, written in collaboration with two LGBT friends.
‘What are you doing Margherita! You’re not gay, why are you writing a guide to Gay Milan?’ Before reading any further, I would like to clarify that this guide was written together with two friends of mine who belong to the LGBT community in Milan, but who would rather not be named because of fear of bullying and discrimination in their workplace.
And this is why sharing guides of LGBT-friendly places is so important – you may see Milan as an open, friendly, diverse city, but the truth is that discrimination is present more than ever, and LGBT individuals face hatred and abuse on a daily basis. I identify as a straight ally, and I am horrified by the idea that people are being discriminated on the basis of gender and sexual preferences – this is why I decided to put together this gay Milan guide, to provide a list of safe spaces for LGBT individuals.
Many of Milan’s LGBT-friendly bars and restaurants can be found in Porta Venezia, especially around Via Lecco, the main drag of Milan’s official Rainbow District. From aperitivo time to late night, Via Lecco and surrounds are very always lively and full of people, attracting a mixed crowd that includes people from all walks of life.
If you’re visiting Milan in occasion of Pride, taking place on June 30th in 2018, Via Lecco is definitely the place to head to after the parade, with parties going on till late night.
Here is a brief selection of the best LGBT-friendly bars, restaurants and clubs in Milan – if you happen to be visiting the next Milan Pride and have other establishments to add to this list, feel free to let us know!
PS. If you find any mistakes or inaccuracies in this list, feel free to let us know via comment or email. TIA!
Gay Milan – LGBT Bars and Restaurants
With hunky waiters wearing sailor-inspired uniforms, and excellent pizza al trancio (deep-pan pizza), plus a variety of other dishes, it comes as no surprise that Little Italy is one of the most popular dinner options in the Porta Venezia area. Service is friendly but brisk, especially on weekend nights when the place is packed with LGBT and straight people alike – but whatever you do, don’t leave without sampling the tiramisu!
Little Italy – Via Tadino, 41
This restaurant/bar located in Via Lecco is busy from lunchtime to late night. During the week, it’s a popular lunch option thanks to its excellent light dishes, with lots of vegetarian and vegan options – but the fun really gets going from aperitivo time onwards! The aperitivo buffet is one of the best in Milan, always with plenty of freshly-cooked vegetarian options and excellent cocktails – don’t miss the signature LeccoCocktail, made with rum, lime, organic grape juice, ginger and lemon grass.
Wednesday is usually karaoke night, Friday night is dedicated to Tom of Finland and the Saturday night event is Femellas, when only people identifying as women are allowed to take turns at the DJ table!
Leccomilano – Via Lecco, 5
Red is really tiny, with only six tables in total, but it’s worth a mention for its Friday night aperitivo that aims to bring together the LGBT crowd and the Ethiopian/Eritrean community of Porta Venezia.
Red Cafe – Via Lecco, 5
Memà Sicilian Bar
This recently-opened bar was opened by the same owners of Leccomilano, and it’s just around the corner, in a lovely little square that looks perfect to welcome the crowds that no doubt will flock to this bar during the summer. The decor is inspired by Sicily – Memà means ‘my mother’ in Sicilian dialect and the aperitivo buffet features Sicilian specialties like pane cunzato (bread with tomato, cheese and anchovy) and lupini (small beans).
Memà – Largo Fra Paolo Bellintani, 2
Located in nearby Piazza Lavater, Blanco is one of the longest-running gay friendly bars in Milan, with a sophisticated, glamorous atmosphere and excellent cocktails at aperitivo time. It’s also busy for breakfast and lunch, but it is at night that the fun really gets going – we recommend visiting during the warmer months, when the crowd spills into the square.
Blanco – Via Morgagni, 2
Another one of Milan’s longest running LGBT-friendly bars, Mono is worth a visit for its lovely retro decor, ideal for hipsters and insta-lovers. It’s a popular aperitivo spot, and during the week it houses different events and dj sets – the Saturday night event is the most gay friendly, and it’s especially popular with bears.
Mono – Via Lecco, 6
Let’s move away from Porta Venezia to NoLo, Milan’s hippest up-and-coming neighbourhood. If the bustle of Porta Venezia is not for you, NoLo So is a cute gay friendly bar, and the owner is the former chef of Leccomilano, so food is likely to be equally good! Tuesday night is dedicated to board games, and DJs play music at weekends from 10 pm onwards.
NoLo So – Via Varanini, 5
Ghe Pensi M.I.
Will NoLo become the new Porta Venezia? Just around the corner from NoLo So there’s Ghe Pensi M.I., a friendly neighbourhood pub that is not geared directly towards an LGBT clientele, but it’s part of the Milano Pride circuit. It’s a great place to enjoy a beer without needing to dress up, in a relaxed, low-key atmosphere.
Ghe Pensi M.I. – Piazza Morbegno, 2
This restaurant describes itself as a ‘pop trattoria’ – like all the best trattorie in Milan, food is all freshly cooked and the menu changes daily. This is the ideal place to head to with a group of queer (and open-minded straight) friends – the restaurant plays Italian music from the Sixties to the Nineties, and most evenings end with the whole restaurant singing Raffaella Carrà’s best tunes!
Milleluci – Via Rosolino Pilo, 7
This restaurant/bar is located in the former Porta Romana station, away from the gay hotspots of Porta Venezia, but it’s worth the detour for two reasons – the first is aperitivo, which is served at the table rather than having the usual ubiquitous buffet. The second – and most important – is the Wednesday night drag show with Vergine Camilla!
Patchouli – Corso Lodi, 51
Gay Milan – LGBT Clubs
Quick clarification – to enter several gay Milan clubs you’ll need the ANDDOS card, valid for 1 year in a vast network of LGBT bars and clubs all across Italy at the cost of €17. Saunas and other meeting points also require ANDDOS membership to enter. You can easily sign up to ANDDOS via the One Pass app, available both on Android and IOS.
Armani Privè (Thursday)
This club is one of the most exclusive in town, located just below the Armani flagship store and Michelin-starred restaurant Nobu. The clientele is mainly models and fashionistas, and Thursday night is popular with the LGBT crowd. If you can get in, that is!
Armani Privè – Via Gastone Pisoni
La Boum (Friday)
If you’re after a fun, unpretentious night out, La Boum is what you need. The event is being held every Friday night in an old-school ballroom near Piazzale Loreto, and attracts LGBT (but not only) people as well as older ballroom dancers. The music is varied, including classics and 80s-90s tunes, and there’s always a drag show at 2 am.
La Boum – Via Natale Battaglia, 14
Not far from La Boum, this club with an industrial atmosphere is ideal for electronic and techno music lovers, and for those looking for Berlin vibes in Milan. The Friday night event is q|LAB, known for its experimental style – the 2018 theme will be ‘Uploading Eden’, aiming to take party-goers to a ‘parallel paradise’. On Saturday the club hosts Toilet Vergogna events, once held in a separate club in the Navigli area, famous for being very easy going and with no door selection – and free entrance before midnight!
Q21 – Via Padova, 21
Vogue Ambition (Friday)
This is the night for those who love Eurotrash music and anything that screams excess! Currently it’s organised on Friday night in a club in the outskirts of Milan, on the way to Linate airport. The sound ranges from trashy Italian music, 80s favourites and international pop music.
Vogue Ambition @ Amnesia Milano, Via Alfonso Gatto
Glitter Club Milano (Saturday)
This event has moved a few times over the years – the latest venue is a club around the corner from Duomo, but check their Facebook page before visiting. The music varies between indie, pop and rock, the clientele is trendy and fashion-conscious, and there are always great glitzy performances half way through the night.
Glitter Club Milano @ Venus – Piazza Diaz, 2
This is one of the longest-running gay clubs in Milan, open since the Eighties. It’s popular with bears and older men, and the atmosphere is fairly low key. There are also private cabins and a dark room. Access only with ANDDOS card.
One Way – Via Felice Cavallotti, 204, Sesto San Giovanni
This recently-opened club near Via Padova is geared towards a fetish and leather loving crowd, but some events like Gate Party are not quite as hardcore. Company Club, one of the most popular gay Milan hangouts, is just next door. Access only with ANDDOS card.
Track – Via Benadir, 14A
Hot Dog Club
This club was formerly known as Flexo and it is located near a sauna building. It is known for hosting a once-monthly party for sneaker lovers, attracting people from all over Europe. Access only with ANDDOS card.
Hot Dog Club – Via Oropa 3
Botox (Sunday Morning after party)
This is Milan’s most popular Sunday morning after party, taking place in Q21. The theme, according to their website, is ‘irreverent, transgressive and unprejudiced and yet refined and chic’ – and fun keeps going until 10 am!
This bar can be found in the vicinity of Via Padova, a few km away from Porta Venezia, and right next to Track, the fetish bar mentioned above. Company Club is one of Milan’s most famous bear-friendly bars, with themed nights dedicated to the bear and leather world. You’ll need the ANDDOS card to access this bar.
Company Club – Via Benadir, 14
This is THE gay Milan club, popular since the 1980s with a crowd that doesn’t just include LGBT people, but also a varied fashionista and wannabe crowd. There are often special guests including drag queens and popular DJs – there’s a strict selection at the door, but if you get in, weekends are always fun.
Plastic – Via Gargano, 15
Other Safe Spaces for LGBT People
This club located on the edge of Milan is a long running club with ballroom dancing and revival music, popular with an older LGBT crowd and known for being trans friendly. Recently they started organising events in a Milan disco, in the Corso Sempione area. You’ll need a membership card to enter – check their Facebook page to find info on shows and events.
Nuova Idea – Via De Gasperi, 14 Corsico / Via Fratelli Salvioni, 2 Milano
This is not strictly a club, it’s a women’s association – it is not necessarily geared towards queer women, but it’s a great place to head to for ladies that are new in town, and are looking for a safe space with other like-minded women. Events about feminism, presentations, evenings dedicated to massage and alternative therapies are just some examples of what you’ll find – access is free with membership card.
Alveare Milano – Via della Ferrera, 8
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