Little Sicily off the southern foot of Italy is an ancient land of history and civilization. From the early Greeks to modern hip, the island has received conquerors and travelers. Today it is a quiet corner of Italy with memories of gay artists, artisans and romance seekers in the hillside town of Taormina and with
Since 2003 discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment is illegal throughout the whole country in conformity with EU directives. Since the introduction of the first Penal Code in 1890, there have been no laws against same-sex sexual activity in Italy. Same-sex activity were not considered as a problem, or better they were tolerated while performed in private. During the 1800 century Italy was known for ‘gay tourism’, i.e. a place where lived beautiful men. However, gays were persecuted in the later years of the Mussolini regime and under the Italian Social Republic of 1943-45. The age of consent is 14. Although discrimination regarding sexual orientation in employment has been banned since 2003, no other anti-discrimination laws have been passed. Public opinion on homosexuality has generally been regarded as socially liberal, with a recent poll in 2014 indicating that a majority of Italians support same-sex marriage. On 19 September 2013, the House of Deputies passed a bill to recognize same-sex unions. On 21 July 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that in not recognizing any form of Civil union or same-sex marriage in Italy, the country was violating Human Rights. On 2 February 2016 Italian Senators started to debate a same-sex civil unions bill. On 25 February 2016, the bill was approved by the Senate in a 173-71 vote. The law provides same-sex couples with all the rights of marriage but not stepchild or joint adoption. The bill will now go to the Chamber of Deputies where a vote is expected no earlier than April. The percentage of Italians who have a positive attitude towards homosexuality and are in favor of legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples is now 56%.
Gay Italy today is a story of contrasts–between a conservative south and the progressive driving north, between an entrenched Catholic church and modern gay life, between traditional heterosexual marriage and demands for civil unions (DiCo’s), between religiously molded parliament members and their secularist opponents. The turmoil and passion behind all sides is seen by most as ‘life as usual’ in this most historic and artistic country.
Story 1 is by a guest author–a Sicilian-American–who describes his experiences and impressions of visiting modern gay friends and ancient Roman sites on the historic island of Sicily.
Story 2 is a report from the International Herald Tribune of June 2002 about Italy’s refusal to pass laws against LGBT discrimination and its denial of gay unions.
Palermo is the bustling main port of Sicily on the north coast. It is replete with an opera house, concert hall, fountains, statuary, ornate churches adorned with intricate ceiling frescos and crowned by an enormous cathedral. The famous 12th century Capella Palatina, inside the enormous Normanni Palace, is a stunning gold-mosaic-lined chapel of great intricacy
Along the south coast of Sicily are the city of Agrigento and the vast ruins of ancient Greece in the Valley of the Temples. Here are temples similar in design to the Acropolis in Athens. The temple of Olympian Zeus (photos #36-40 below) was the largest ever designed and was still incomplete after 70 years.
The hill town of Taormina is a small slice of paradise overlooking the sea and Mount Etna. Old stone houses and shops line the cobblestone streets as people pause in outdoor cafes for coffee and a pastry or wander the narrow lanes viewing the art galleries. The quiescence today masks a colorful gay history that
On March 10, 2007 a huge demonstration was held by Arcigay, Italy’s national LGBT rights organization, to urge government passage of domestic partnerships (DiCo) benefits. Such legislation was up for likely approval until Prime Minister Prodi and his ruling coalition received a ‘no confidence’ vote (in February, over a separate issue) and had to resign.
Every week the Pope appears before an audience of several thousand tourists and pilgrims in the purpose-built audience hall (an ill-suited modern building crammed against the baroque and neo-classical structures of St. Peter’s Square). He reads a message (in Italian) after which the various attending groups are announced by a cardinal. As their names are
One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Colosseum was built for sports and entertainment, which included combat between gladiators who usually killed their opponents and included watching wild animals attack and kill unarmed civilians. Today the only competition is preening and cruising among countless thousands of students who visit the Coloseum each
The second ‘half’ of the Vatican Museum happens after the Sistine Chapel as one makes the 1500 meter walk back to the entry, passing through another giant hall of painted ceilings and a separate museum with still more masterpieces by great Italian masters. The exit is via a new spiral ramp that leads countless thousands
The Vatican Museum is an overwhelming experience of the greatest painting ever created by human hands. It is dense with mythology, religious history, Roman history, exquisite uses of color and form crowned by the intricately frescoed ante-chambers leading into the Sistine Chapel. In the Chapel itself (final 7 photos below) there is inescapable awe and
Ascending to the crown of St.Peter’s dome is fairly easy via steps(an elevator goes up to the base of the dome). The size, proportion and beauty of the engineering are stunning and nearly incredible when one thinks the place was built with no power equipment. From the top the views of St. Peter’s Square display
This walk wanders around the foot of the Capitoline Hill from the Arch of Janus and Piazza Bocca della Verita to Piazza Campitelli, Piazza Margana along via Dei Funari and its church. After which is the Trevi Fountain. Details can be found in the guidebook RomeWalks by Anya Shetterly. Read the stories about gay Italy
This walk takes in the neighborhood of the Campo dei Fiori starting on the Ponte Sisto moving past Piazza Trinita dei Pellegrino and Piazza Campo dei Fiori a along via di Monserrato and back through via Giula to Piazza Farnese, passing the impressive Palazzo Ricci with exterior frescos sketched by Caravaggio in the sixteenth century
A walk from the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps along the trendy streets (Condotti, Borgognona, etc) with their high fashion boutiques and cafes including the famous Cafe Greco, established 1760. The cafe’s interior looks more like a museum. Toward the River Tiber is the crumbling mausoleum of Augustine and the modern white exhibition
A walk from the Sant’Angelo Castle, across the river over the beautiful Sant’Angelo Bridge with its decorative statuary to the Parliament building and on to the stunning Pantheon, an ancient place of worship to all the gods and burial place of Italian kings. Read the stories about gay Italy
The ancient city of Pompeii was very impressive and beautiful before it was smothered by the dust and mud of Mt.Vesuvius in 79 AD. Today, even in ruin, the beauty of the city is still visible in the many mosaics, frescoes, architectural varieties, gardens, fountains, temples and a huge colosseum. Read the stories about gay
The gracious marble Spanish Steps, built between 1723 and 1726, leads down from the church of Trinita dei Monti to the Piazza di Spagna/Spanish Plaza (so named for the Spanish embassy in the plaza). The boat fountain Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat) at the bottom of the steps was built a century earlier
Scattered around Sicily are numerous charming hill towns such as Enna and Ragusa with old stone buildings, churches or forts and panoramaic views of the undulating land. South of Enna town is the ancient Roman villa del Casale with some of the most extensive and beautiful floor mosaics to be seen anywhere. In Ragusa is