Gay and Lesbian Travellers

Attitudes towards homosexuality in Sicily are generally less tolerant than in the north of Italy. Sexuality in Sicily is still somewhat characterized by old Mediterranean norms, where women ruled the household and men did many things about which they didn't speak - and they didn't leave home until marriage. Sex between men is nothing new for sure -- but the concept of gay identities is a recent arrival. As relationships become more open, gay clubs and bathhouses are popping up in the larger cities, pulling big crowds.

The first openly gay pride parades were only held in 2010 in Palermo and Catania, so change is happening, but perhaps slower than in other cities. Although 10,000 people reportedly marched in Palermo for gay rights so there is a sizeable community. But change comes slowly, so in places at a distance from the major cities, as in much of southern Italy, men have remained discreet in general society, cruising parks, woodlands and beaches on the down low, or they have moved to the big city. But, in a sign of change - unthinkable here not long ago - Rosario Crocetta won in 2012 the election as governor of Sicily, as an openly gay man.

While there is no legislation discriminating against the lifestyle same-sex couples are often frowned upon. This doesn't mean you can't go to Sicily and indeed you will find gay friendly businesses, but it may still be hard to get a matrimoniale or double bed ouside the main tourist resorts and the two big towns Palermo and Catania.

In cities like Catania, Taormina and Palermo you will find gay bars and clubs and accommodating hotels. Here people are generally more tolerant of same-sex couples and you will find far less discrimination.

Taormina is generally considered the top gay and lesbian travel destination in Sicily.

The wonderful resort town is centrally located so you could easily use it as a base for tours in the region - a train line and good bus services link it to Siracusa, Catania and small towns in the area. This would save you having to worry about finding suitable accommodation in too many places. For those content to just explore the town itself it's definitely a romantic spot for couples with modern boutiques and galleries to browse, fine views to enjoy the coastline and Mount Etna, and plenty of good restaurants to choose from.

There are Greek and Roman remains to explore, a wonderful season of summer plays and concerts, and plenty of hotels to choose from that give same sex couples a few options. Another option is to simply rent a villa or a holiday apartment. For those who like to be more active Taormina is also the perfect place to base. Here you can ski on Mount Etna in winter, swim or sun bathe by the coast in summer or take a wine tour through the local countryside.

If you are looking for a gay friendly beach then Oasi di Vendicari (natural park) is the right one, located not far from Noto in the direction of Noto Pachino. It is a very nice gay friendly nudist beach with a laid back atmosphere.