Your find a allusion to homosexuality in the men in the evening eyeing each
other. I do not.
One of the enduring images I have of small towns in southern Italy was the
evening promenades of crowds of men slowly walking together in small groups
down the middle of some main shopping street talking together. Hundreds and
hundreds of men together in crowds but separated into small groups. These
groups were constantly "eyeing" each other but seemed to have little other
interaction. Groups did not interact with groups and individuals remained
within their group. I think the "eyeing" was some sort of mutual non-vocal
recognition signal of acquaintances who were, for that evening at least, in
another group. Some complex social energies were at work that I as an
outsider had no idea but I doubt that it was the same as homosexual groups
of gay men eyeing/ogling each other in a gay bar.
Having never been to northern Italy I have no idea whether this evening
promenade is part of the small town life there.
Perhaps one of the Italians can help out with this "promenade" custom. Is
it a universal Italian custom of small towns? Was it prevalent in Dante's