Itinerary: Aci Reale, Aci Trezza, Aci Castello
Discovery Sicily’s Cyclops Riviera, north of Catania
Cyclops Riviera (Riviera dei Ciclopi) is a 12-kilometer long stretch of the coast located north of the beautiful city of Catania that goes from Acireale to Aci Castello.
This wonderful coastline was named after some legends about the huge rocks sprouting from the sea, (some of them even up to 70 meters high).
In fact, there are different legends about these boulders all involving Cyclops Polyphemus, the giant son of Poseidon and one of the Cyclopes. According to a legend, Polyphemus threw these boulders in the sea to express his rage against Ulysses, whose story has been told by Homer's Odyssey.
Another legend tells that both a shepherd called Aci and Polyphemus was in love with Galatea, a nymph of the sea. Blinded by jealousy, Polyphemus killed Aci throwing a boulder on him. Galatea prayed the gods to give her beloved Aci back, so the Gods turned Aci into a river, which flows into the sea through the small beach where Aci and Galatea used to meet. Today, most of the towns that lie on this coast (Acireale, Aci Castello, Aci Trezza, and others) owe their names to Aci.
The coast and the nearby boulders are part of a protected area featuring great varieties of flora and fauna, beautiful sea floor and lush underwater vegetation. (pic n°5)
Aci Castello is a very nice small village located just 9 kilometers from Catania and developed around the amazing Norman Castle (pic n°3), built in the eleventh century. From Piazza Castello, the main square of Aci Castello, you can enjoy beautiful views over the whole Cyclops Riviera. We suggest strolling around the narrow alleys and the seventeenth-century buildings or relaxing on the lava beaches or on the piers along the sea.
From here, you can drive 6 kilometers north and get to Aci Trezza (pic n°1) (pic n°2), another popular fishing village, with beautiful and well-equipped beaches.
Another 7.5 kilometers north and you will reach Acireale. Established as a Greek colony in the first century B.C., Acireale has always been inhabited. The main attraction of the town is its Baroque-style historic center, whose symbol is the sixteenth-century Cathedral of Maria Santissima Annunziata, located in Piazza del Duomo (pic n°4), the main square.
Other churches to be visited are the Church of San Sebastiano and Church of San Pietro, with beautiful paintings.
This town, located on a cliff 150 meters above sea level and jutting into the Mediterranean Sea, is mainly famous for its beaches and for its Carnival (pic n°6), a very ancient tradition where beautiful runways, masks, and carnival wagons are entirely made of flowers!
Departure: Aci Reale
Arrival: Aci Castello
Some pics of Cyclops Riviera, Sicily:
Aci Trezza (pic n°1); The huge rocks, Aci Trezza (pic n°2); Norman Castle, Aci Castello (pic n°3); Acireale: Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral of Maria Santissima Annunziata (pic n°4); Beautiful sea - view (pic n°5); The colorful Carnival, Acireale (pic n°6);