The Ciclopes Riviera

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North of the city the shore is strongly marked by the volcano, which has created in centuries bizarre and tortuous rocks and cliffs, towering over clear waters and bays. The Ciclopes Riviera stretches out between Aci Castello and Acirale, and the name is bound to the most famous myths of the Odyssey. Legend has it that the 8 spectacular rocks spread along the Riviera were created by Polifemo, who took them out of the volcano and threw them against Ulysses and his fellowmen, who were running away from the Cyclopes.

Accommodations on the Riviera is quite expensive in summer, but in spring and fall prices are usually cheaper. The Riviera can be easy reached from Catania by local buses, or by train from Acireale (but the train station is not centrally located).

Aci Castello takes its name form the Norman castle built in 1076 on the lava rock stretching out toward the sea. The village hosts a Civic Museum, with archaeological material (from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Age), and geological material (fossils, minerals, and a botanic garden with flat plants). From the opposite square of Piazza Castello one can enjoy fantastic view on the Riviera, appreciated for its sandy beaches.

A bit further North lies Aci Trezza, a beautiful fishermen village.
Acireale was well known yet in the Roman age for its spas, which are still in use. The village was destroyed by the earthquake of 1963, after which it was rebuilt as we know it today, with magnificent buildings in baroque style and a beautiful central square. The town stands on a lava field generated at the end of the XVII century after a violent eruption of the volcano, and lies atop of a natural terrace overlooking the sea, with lemon groves all around. From the public garden of Villa Belvedere, on the northern edge of the town, you can have the best view on the Riviera and the volcano.

The Cathedral is a fine baroque building with two spires covered with ceramic tiles and a beautiful gothic façade. On the same square stands the Town Hall, whereas in San Domenico square lies the Musumeci Palace, another fine example of Sicilian baroque. Acireale is known for its big carnival, one of the biggest and most beautiful feasts in Sicily, and it is one of the ultimate places where the tradition of the Pupi theatre is still alive.

From Acireale a beautiful walk leads to Santa Maria La Scala, a small village lying close to the fishermen pier full of colourful boats, on the slopes of the lava terrace called “La Timpa”. The rich vegetation surrounds the village and the beach, with lava black stones. Santa Maria can be also reached by car, but the trail is much more suggestive.

Civic Museum of Aci Castello
  • Piazza Castello
  • Open all days except on Mondays
  • For info: Tel.: 095 27 10 26
  • How to reach Aci Castello:
  • http://www.comune.acicastello.ct-egov.it/informazioni/orari-autolinee-ast/
The Baths of Acireale
  • Via delle Terme, 47 – Acireale
  • Open all year round
  • For info and reservations:
  • Web: http://www.terme-acireale.com/
Pupi Museum
    Via Nazionale, 195 – Acireale
  • Guided visits, demonstrations and historic explanations are available upon reservation
  • For info and reservations:
  • Web: http://www.operadeipupi.com/teatroespettacoli.html

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