Bologna, a well-known learning and trade centre, is a medieval city in the northern part of Italy. It has a land area of 140.7 km² and a population of about 380,000 inhabitants. It is also the capital and the largest city in Emilia-Romagna.
The old university city has popular tourist attractions that include Piazza Maggiore, Towers of Bologna, and San Petronio Basilica. Many visitors find this place one of Italy’s most fascinating city that is also branded as the country’s gastronomic capital as its leading industries include that of producing pasta and sausages.
It is said that the red light district in the city is nothing like it was before. The area is now a well-known place to hang out and get some drinks. Notable places or streets in the old red light district include Via Fregatette and Via Delle Oche. Most of the brothels in Bologna were located in these streets up until these establishments were still legal.
It is also easy to find restaurants and other dining venues surrounding the area. Apart from the two streets mentioned, Via del Pratello is also a prominent place in Bologna’s old RLD. The streets around it and the main square are where partygoers and night owls frequently meet.
Some nightclubs exist in the area, but tourists can find sex workers and adult entertainment venues in other parts of the town.
History of the RLD
Brothels or whorehouses were legal in Bologna until 1958. The neighbourhood of Via Delle Oche and Via Fregatette were said to be the location of brothels and home of sensual Bolognese women and other sex workers. The Merlin Law (named after its creator Angela Merlin) proposed the abolishment of brothels.
How to find the RLD
Trasporto Passeggeri Emilia Romagna is a public transport company in the city, carrying out local services in Bologna. But, the best way to go to Via delle Oche which is located in Bologna’s historic center is by foot, as it is known to be a walker’s paradise.
Stay safe in the RLD
Bologna and most of its streets are generally safe. Tourists, however, are advised to pay attention to their surroundings and make informed choices. It is not advisable to wander or walk alone at night, especially around the train station.
Pickpocketing is the most prevalent crime in this medieval town. Vacationers should watch their belongings and keep their bags zipped, especially when exploring the town or riding the bus. It is important to note that areas around the train station and in certain parts of the university district (Piazza Verdi to Via San Vitale) sometimes become a location for fights and crimes associated with drugs and alcohol.
While the trade of sexual services is bigger in EUR, Rome, Bologna also has its own share of venues that cater to adult entertainment. Though the operation of brothels has ceased since the newer legislation outlawed it, there is still prostitution, strip clubs, swinger clubs and adult cinemas in Bologna.
Many of the street workers in the city are from countries in Eastern Europe. There are several streets in the town where prostitutes attract clients. Tourists can see some girls in Via Morazzo, Via Stalingrado, and Via delle Serre. There are also some girls working in Via Marco Emilio Lepido and Via Ferrarese.
In general, prostitution in the country is legal. Operating a brothel and promoting prostitution, however, are considered illegal. The recent Italian laws classify sexual exploitation of young children as a form of slavery. This is why it is illegal to avail sexual services from those who are under 18 years old.
Those who solicit clients for under-aged prostitutes would face a fine of 150,000 euros and a jail time between six and 12 years. Clients of sex workers below 18 would need to pay up to 6,000 euros and face incarceration for six months to four years.
The legislation, known as the Merlin Law, made the operation of brothels illegal. While this does not extremely prohibit prostitution, it abolished the industry controlled by the state and punished people involved in exploiting and procuring sex workers. When this law was enacted, more than 700 brothels or whorehouses were shut down.
The Merlin Law is still in force, but there are a few changes in the legislation. The country is also considering a bill that introduces large fines for clients of prostitution. According to The Local Italy, this law would require repeat offenders to pay fresh fines with the risk of jail time for up to one year. It is noted that this may fight prostitution, without resorting to regulating the industry.
With regards to LGBT laws, the same-sex civil union has been legalised June this year. This allows couples of the same gender to enjoy some of the legal protections available to married couples. Italy, however, is still a conservative country, because of its predominantly Catholic population. Members of the LGBT community can live openly, but same-sex marriage is still not allowed in Italy.
Civil union, however, is not equal to those who want to have their relationship recognised by others. The law, furthermore, does not include the adoption of kids or adoption of partner’s child from the previous relationship.
The student community in the city drives the vibrant nightlife scene in Bologna. There is a wide range of discos, clubs, and live music venues, perfect for those who love to drink, enjoy, and party. Most of the good nightlife venues are located in Via Zamboni (affordable pubs and restaurants) and Via del Pratello.
Bologna has one of the most open-minded attitudes and atmospheres throughout the country. It has a gay and lesbian centre, called Cassero, which is also the headquarter of the organisation Arcigay.
Cassero centre has a unique atmosphere. It hosts several parties and other scheduled events. It is located in Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 18, Bologna. It is also possible to find other gay venues in the city such as gay clubs and saunas.
General Attitude Towards Gays
Bologna has an accepting attitude towards homosexuality. The students in the university and young population in the town shows open-mindedness concerning gay people. While the local scene is not that big, the city has a gay and lesbian centre known as Casero in Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 18. This location is unrivalled in the whole country and hosts dance parties for the third sex.
Tourists can also buy Gay News, the Bologna-based national Italian gay newspaper. Bars, clubs, and other gay venues are abundant in the city. Many of these host disco dances, parties, and themed-nights. It is also possible to see gay saunas in the city, with facilities like a dark room, steam saunas, Jacuzzi, and cabins. Igor Libreria is a gay shop and LGBT bookstore with English and Italian magazines and books.
Like most places in the country, Anddos card or Arcigay card is a requirement in cruise bars and gay saunas. In the city, Arcigay is required in Cassero. Tourists can acquire the card in an establishment that requires it.
Gay Prostitution in Bologna
There is no specific information on where to find gay prostitutes in Bologna. It is said that most gay escorts advertise their services online. Sites like GayClubEscorts.com and RentMen.com offer listings of gay prostitutes in the city.
In the centre of the city, an under-passage is located between Via Ugo Bassi and Via Marconi. Many men hang around the place, looking for a quick adult service. The walls of the under-passage are said to be filled with ads for transsexual and male prostitutes.