The 41-year-old tourist, who was on holiday with a group of friends, was walking by the Ognina seafront in Catania when he was approached by around 15 Italian and non-Italian youths aged between 15 and 25 on scooters, the local newspaper, La Sicilia, reported.
According to the tourist, the group mocked him and shouted “gay” at him. One of them then got off his scooter and shoved him, causing him to fall to the ground.
Terrified, the tourist left the city and moved to a hotel in the provinces, where he refused to leave his room for the duration of his holiday.
“The friends tried to convince him to go on a trip to Etna,” said one member of staff at the hotel. “But he was gripped by fear and was not able to leave the room, except for a short time to chat with us.”
The man was also visited by a doctor, who prescribed him anti-depressants.
La Sicilia said the man suffered “little physical damage, but unquantifiable moral damage”.
The incident comes in spite of Catania’s reputation as a gay-friendly holiday destination. In 2012, Sicilians elected their first openly-gay governor Rosario Crocetta.
As for the rest of Italy, there is evidence that the tide is turning with regards to gay marriage, with a poll in March showing that just over two thirds – 67 percent – were in favour of civil unions.