Even though it still has a long way to go, homosexuality is moving by baby steps in Sicily toward social acceptance, but macho traditions and mentality are still deeply rooted in society. While public displays of affection between homosexual couples are rare, when it does happen it's often met with a lot of staring and the occasional comment. Except in the very primitive areas violence against homosexuals is unheard of. The first gay association in Italy was founded in Palermo in 1980 (ArciGay; www.arcigay.it) to protest the suicide of a homosexual couple tormented by ferocious public opinion. The current mayor of Gela, Rosario Crocetta, is openly gay in a city known for its high Mafia density.
Taormina, however, is a world apart and most certainly gay friendly. The Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, are also vacation spots of choice. To help plan your trip, the following resources may be helpful.
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 954/630-1637; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses and tour operators.
Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. San Francisco-based Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com) offers worldwide trips and cruises. And Olivia (tel. 800/631-6277; www.olivia.com), a members-only site, offers lesbian cruises and resort vacations. Gay.com Travel (tel. 415/834-6500; www.gay.com/travel or www.outandabout.com) is an excellent online provider of information about gay-owned, gay oriented, and gay-friendly lodging, dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping establishments in every important destination worldwide. Another good resource is Purple Roofs (www.purpleroofs.com) which lists gay-friendly accommodation in Sicily. The Canadian website GayTraveler offers ideas and advice for gay travel all over the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.