What to see in Acireale, an itinerary between history and monuments including the main places of interest, including the Duomo, Pinacoteca Zelantea, Puppet Theater and San Sebastiano Church, as well as interesting excursions in the surrounding area, including those in Aci Trezza, Aci Castello and Isole of the Cyclops.
Located on a plateau positioned between the slopes of Etna and overlooking the Ionian Sea, surrounded by a landscape characterized by citrus groves, Acireale is a small town with a typically Baroque appearance, also known for the presence of the thermal baths of Santa Venera.
Ancient Xiphonia of the Greeks and Akis of the Romans, Acireale was conquered by the Byzantines, was later destroyed by multiple eruptions of the volcano, and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1643 in the baroque forms with which it is presented today in the eyes of the visitor.
The Duomo, built at the end of the sixteenth century, was remodeled during the nineteenth century.
In the nineteenth-century facade there is the remarkable Baroque portal, while in the interior, decorated with eighteenth-century frescoes, there is the chapel of Santa Venera, where the simulacrum of the town protector is kept.
Piazza Duomo overlooks the seventeenth-century Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, characterized by a beautiful and lively facade, and the town hall, which is a beautiful example of Catania's Baroque.
The Zelantea art gallery, founded in the early twentieth century together with the well-stocked library, preserves an interesting archaeological collection, as well as some paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the Teatro dei Pupi the famous performances of the Opera dei Pupi are staged, which are popular re-enactments of the achievements of Orlando and the paladins of Charlemagne.
The Church of San Sebastiano, characterized by a singular facade, is a construction expression of the seventeenth-century baroque.
The numismatic cabinet, which is housed in the elegant Palazzo Pennisi di Floristella, includes a famous collection of Greek-Sicilian coins, dating back to the period between the sixth and fourth centuries BC.
Near the Villa Belvedere, which is a public garden with a beautiful view of the sea and Etna, there are the thermal baths of San Venera, having therapeutic properties known since ancient times.Recommended readings
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Among the excursions to do in the surrounding area is that of Aci Castello, a town 8 km away, located in a vast inlet at the foot of a basaltic fortress.
The 11th century Norman Castle is very interesting, built in lava stone on the top of the rock, whose geological structure, the result of submarine eruptions, is particularly rare and for this reason it has been subjected to in-depth studies by the best professionals in the sector.
At 6 km there is Aci Trezza, a renowned seaside resort and fishing center with a marina, famous for the beach called Lido dei Ciclopi and for being the setting location chosen by Giovanni Verga for his novel entitled "I Malavoglia".
The Cyclops Islands are suggestive volcanic rocks located a short distance from the coast, which mythological legends and popular traditions have declared to be the boulders thrown by Polyphemus against Ulysses.