Etna and the Mafia aren't the only things active on Sicily finds OutUK's randy rover
Adrian Gillan in Catania and Taormina on the East coast of southern Italy's
fiercely independent island idyll.
It was Baron Wilhelm Von Gloeden who first put the coast at the foot of fiery Etna
on the global gay map with his sultry, timeless and ambiguous nude photo poses of
gorgeous local Taormina youths at the turn of the last century.
Queer travellers have
been drawn to this unspoilt and dramatic homo-haven ever since.
Taormina - about twenty miles north of Catania along the coast around Etna - is perched
dramatically high above the sea. Wondering along its main street, the Corso Umberto,
you'll now only rarely find the old Baron's celebrated souvenir sex snaps even furtively
changing hands, but who needs them when you've got the real things basking on every
terrace and winding, narrow, hilly street corner.
If you want to strip off and re-enact some of those faded sepia snapshot scenes yourself why not visit the famous cliffy
White Rocks gay nudist beach along the coast below.
One of Baron Von Gloeden's classical recreations.
There are indeed smaller gay hubs in the capital Palermo and at Ragusa, Agrigento
and Siracusa, dotted around the coast. But the real queer epicentre on Sicily is
Catania itself, just south of Taormina and perched ominously within Etna's
reach - rebuilt after being completely wiped out in 1693.
As with many Italian scene's, there's a heavy cruising culture after 10pm.
You'll not struggle to pull within the hour, whilst strolling or rolling along any of the central avenues or
squares, most notably Corso Sicily, Piazza Grenoble, Piazza Republica or Piazza Stesicoro.
You can also check out the large and lush city centre Villa Bellini park or - when that shuts
after dark - tread the green Piazza Cavour nearby.
Central Square In Taormina. Photo: Thevirex
Again, you'll see the Italian trend for mixed gay-friendly bars and eateries. The Trattoria
Dal Cavaliere will provide welcome succour mid-cruising those central streets
of the heart of Catania. Here you will find waiting for you some delicious dishes of fish or meat.
Bar Nievski - in a gorgeous, narrow, stepped lane just north of the cathedral, the Duomo,
is a maze of rooms and terraces offering food and drink amid a communist ambient chic where
all-comers are extremely equal.
On a very similar decadent and Bohemian revolutionary theme, the
Havana Pub near the main railway and bus station is a fantastic experience. You enter via
a large iron door and through a foyer of palms into a large bar with drag stage. It
adjoins the busy and modern Villa Romeo club at weekends, majoring on Latin American music
on a Saturday.
For a more transgressive night, visit the biggest cruising bar
in southern Italy, Codice Rosso in Via Conte Ruggero, where with some drinks and a candlelit atmosphere
you can have an hot and passionate night. They have cabins for the passionate, a dark room for the more timid and
some sling rooms and gloryholes for the adventurous as well as a FIRE area if you want to explore.
Isola Bella & Mazzarò Bay.
If after all that you just need to let off steam Terme di Achilleis is a gay sauna with nice facilities on
two floors. It opened in 2005 and features Finnish sauna, steam bath, jacuzzi, showers. Upstairs there is a
dark room, video room, smoking room, massage room, lockers and lounge bar. It's packed on Sundays and the guys are
a good mix and most are up for some hot fun. It's clean and friendly with lots of delicious Sicilian meat
around. Alternatively, South Factory Club (SFC) is a little newer and features a Finnish sauna,
dark room, large hydromassage bath that can accommodate 20 men and there spacious cabins, a video room with sofa,
massage room and smoking area on the upper floor. They hold a naked party on Fridays.
With out question, the highlight of
any trip to Catania in July or August must be Pegaso's unique summer weekend outdoor
reincarnation about four miles south of town, over the road from the Jolly Playa beach.
You enter a park complex with large swimming pool where youths will swim skimpy or naked
until dawn breaks, fresh and rosy-fingered, across Etna's vast shield. You can also dance
the darkness away or get legless beneath the stars; or you can even safely cruise some
gorgeous guys in the huge, bustling forest area within this sprawling open-air complex.
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Codice Rosso (Via Conte Ruggero 48 Catania; T: 0039 095 28 84 899; Website)
Havana Pub (Piazza Alessandro Manzoni, Grammichele, Catania; T: 0039 (0)933 94 14 72)
Nievski (via Alessi 15-17, Catania; T: 0039 (0)95 31 37 92)
Pegaso's in Summer (via le Kennedy 80, Catania; T: 0039 (0)95 735 72 68)
South Factory Club (SFC) Sauna (Via Fischett 10, Catania; T: 0039 95 518 4094; Website; facebook)
Terme di Achille Sauna (Via Tezzano 13, Catania; T: 0039 95 746 3543; Website; facebook)
Trattoria Dal Cavaliere (Piazza Stesicoro, Catania; T: 0039 (0)95 31 04 91)
Villa Romeo Villa (via Platamone 20, Catania; T: 0039 (0)95 53 01 29)
Many of the venues shut for a week or two during July or August so it's wise to ring ahead
if visiting at that time.
Revised February 2018.