Tuscany region has always been very welcoming towards gays and lesbians. Particularly the citizens of Torre del Lago say that their Marina (mainly the free beach of Lecciona with its natural dunes) was a sight of destination for GLBT tourism, also thanks to the close Puccini Festival, really appreciated by gays lovers of lyric music.
The history of "Friendly Versilia" started in 1998, with the aim of finally giving visibility to the large and still hidden GLBT community in Torre del Lago. On 26 of February of that same year, a signaling arrived to the Arcigay in Pisa by some gay friendly night culbs owners of Marina di Torre del Lago, of the persistent inspections that carabeneers continued to do just to the gay couples attending their clubs.
So Arcigay appeared on the press, suggesting to the local Municipality to encourage and support gay tourism, as in other parts of Europe already happened. It was in this way that the project GLBT came to life, supportedd by the local Municipality and sponsored by gay and gay-friendly business; it was realized the first touristic guide for gay customers and in 2000 the first gay bed and breakfast opened in Torre del Lago (the first of a long series).
Great changes happened in the small town, not without long periods of controversies. Marina di Torre del Lago has known a unique building development during the last years, and all along the main mall, lots of restaurants, discos, bars and pubs have been opened. In the Marina's calendar of events organized in the period from April to September, it could be interesting to notice in August, the Friendly Versilia Mardi Gras, a sort of manifestation with shows to which artists like Gloria Gaynor and Village People have taken part during the years.
The term 'Mardi Gras' has been choosen by its organizers as a tribute to the historical Viareggio's Carnival, but mainly for the most important Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which every year attracts a huge crowd of people from all over the world.
Today, a big net of companies supports Friendly Versilia, a total amount of 37 businesses, including gay bar and discos, one gay equipped beach, restaurants, bed and breakfast managed by gays, some gay-friendly hotels and campings, one tour operator and several commercial and cultural businesses.