Poland has always been in my imaginary as a very cold country, so far away from any places I have lived in!
Everybody has his own geography in his mind… and in my personal one I never paired Poland with my very much loved Germany, who shares a lot of history and borders with its neighbour, Poland!
So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover an amazing, warm and welcoming country, somehow gay friendly too! I must admit the fact I am Italian helped me a lot! As I discovered along my trip, Italy has a very strong historical connection with Poland.
Bona Sforza, Italian, Duchess of Milan and Bari (the main city of Puglia, the region where I come from) married Polish King Sigismund I the Old in 1527: the Duchess moved to the Poland-Lithuania reign, becoming Queen of Poland (more about her history here). Bona Sforza brought to Poland plenty of beautiful Italian art crafts (paintings and tapestries) but also many poets, doctors, musicians, astrologers, who engaged a very close relationship with their Polish counterparts, and gained many a heart of Polish women (and men I suppose!).
My own country, Italy, is called in Polish “Włochy”; an italian person is called “Włoch” and the italian language is called “włoski”. The origin of the name comes officially from the name of an Italian population, who used to live in the central regions of Italy during the Middle Age, the Volsci (in Latin Volcae, in Polish Wolskowiege).
Honestly I prefer a little more folkloric explanation: Włochy should refer to the name to the hair (Włosi in Polish); maybe because of the strong black hair, a typical feature of Italian men, which attracted the Polish gentle ladies not accustomed to such a beautiful view, or because of the many Italian hairdressers Bona Sforza brought with her to Poland… Definitely much funnier explanations, what do you think? 🙂
Also gay life is surprising: Poland is still a very Catholic country and very traditional to some extent, but it looks like Polish know how to throw a party and have fun! I discovered plenty of bars and pubs are in all the cities I visited. There is indeed a huge choice, for every taste… so if you are looking for any kind of fun, you should not be disappointed!
As you will learn in my next few posts, I visited only three cities during my 2 weeks trip along Poland: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Krakow. I arrived first into the capital, Warsaw, by bus from the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, to find myself in a much larger environment! Yes, I felt like I had travelled very forward in tim: I arrived in a very cosmopolitan city! Shame I had no more time to travel around the country: I am sure I will be back to beautiful Poland very soon, at least to get to know more handsome men! 😉