The Myth of Acireale
The formation of Acireale ties in with the myth narrated by Virgil and Ovid, of the shepherd Acis and the nymph Galatea. According to legend, Aci was killed by the Cyclops Polyphemus, jealous of the love that Galatea felt for Acis.
Upon learning of the tragic death of her love, the nymph fell into heartbreaking cries that even the gods pitied. To ease the pain of Galatea, the gods transformed the blood of Acis into a river (Akis) in order to reunite Galatea and Aci within the streams of water.
The Carnival of Acireale
The Carnival ofAcireale has now become one of the most popular and colorful of Sicily.
The festivities go on for over a week, with flowered floats and parading masked groups in a joyful collegiate atmosphere. The cars made by various associations depict caricatures of historical and present-day personalities in mockery, contending the favor of the jury that will award the most beautiful wagon according to the category they belong.
The streets are crowded with people coming from all over Sicily, and soon are turned into carpets of confetti and streamers. Small playgrounds and other attractions are especially built for children. Because of its beauty and uniqueness, the Carnival of Acireale has been known for some time now as the most famous Carnival in Italy, the Carnival of Viareggio; and it is not to be missed.
Historical Background of Acireale
The town of Acireale owes its origins to the local populous who settled in the fertile area close to the sea with abundant fresh waters.
Colonized by the Greeks, it became a Roman town named Akis. It was the Byzantines who most probably built, around the eighth century, the castle of Aci to defend against Muslim hordes. In the medieval period, the town was the subject of numerous raids by foreign invaders, which is why many families left Acireale to situate themselves in safer areas, and why the small towns that sprang up in the area still bear the initial Aci in their name.
The earthquake of 1693 was a dramatic event in Acireale, destroying most of the buildings of that time: however, the reconstruction, brought many noble palaces, wide streets paved in slabs of lava stone, and important monuments. Lastly, in 1873, it was inaugurated as the prominent spa of Santa Venera.
Acireale by Night
The evenings in Acireale can be spent quietly and peacefully most all year round, except during the period of Carnival when the holiday becomes the focus of Sicily in Acireale. However, if you are lucky, you could happen to have the chance to attend one of the concerts of Italian and international singers, who usually perform in the sports hall.
Within its noble atmosphere and baroque style, Acireale offers visitors excellent restaurants and bars, as well as different types of accommodations to spend a few nights at the foot of Mount Etna. It could be considered a good stopover point on a trip through eastern Sicily or nodal point for visiting the most beautiful resorts that are located along the Ionian coast between Messina and Catania.