Even though it still has some way to go, homosexuality is moving in Sicily toward social acceptance. Yes, macho traditions and mentality are still deeply rooted in many of the rural areas. But public displays of affection between LGBTQ couples are not uncommon in such enlightened communities as Catania, Taormina, Pantelleria, Lampedusa and Palermo. When it happens in the smaller towns, though, it's often met with a lot of staring and the occasional comment. That being said, 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. A recent mayor of Gela, Rosario Crocetta, is openly gay in a city known for its high Mafia density.
A good resource: 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.
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.