The seventeenth century was for Acireale a golden century.
The city preserves intact the forms of Sicilian Baroque, in its houses, lava portals, and in the winding backstreets. Splendid examples of Baroque are the city palace, the basilica of St Sebastiano and the buildings in Via Dafnica.
Inspite of the serious damage incurred during the earthquake of 1693, the city was rebuilt, with the construction of the splendid architecture which is still possible to admire today, following the religious and cultural itineraries.
Town Hall, example of 1659 Baroque
The Church of St Peter and Paul (700)
The Cathedral (1597-1618)
The Church of St Domenico
The Church of St. Sebastiano
Religious – Artistic Itinerary
Acireale, famous in Sicily for its 100 bell-towers, offers its visitors an itinerary dedicated exclusively to its churches where you can find prestigious examples of Sicilian Baroque, as well as various alfrescos by Pietro Paolo Vasta, who was one of the most renowned Sicilian artists of the seventeenth century. The work of other local artists of the same period can also be admired, for example Giacinto Platania, Alessandro Vasta, and Michele Vecchio.
In particular, 7 Acireale churches have been chosen for their outstanding beauty:
The Cathedral of Maria S.S. Annunziata
Painted with alfrescos in 1710 by the Filocamo brothers, well-known artists from Messina, and the dome, painted by P. Vasta.
The Church of St Peter and Paul
Noteworthy for its two sculptures, venerated for centuries: Christ on the column and Christ in death.
The Church of St. Sebastiano
It is located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, near Piazza Domo, on the right hand side. A statue-topped balustrade crowns the Baroque façade of the church, combining columns, pilasters, niches and volutes. The transept and the chancel, inside, contain frescoes by Vasta depicting scenes from the life of St. Sebastiano.
The Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio
Situated in the ancient “strada della marina”, this church hosts alfrescos by P. Vasta and his son, Alessandro.
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
A tiny church characterised by its alfrescos of characters from the Old Testament
The Church of Nostra Signora del Presepe (The Grot of the Crib)
In an ancient lava grotto, integral part of the actual church which according to local legend was the hiding place for murderers, or even the dwelling of demons and horrid beasts, was discovered by chance during a storm, by sacerdotal Mariano Valerio. He was so enchanted by the place that he thought of mounting a nativity scene. He commissioned local craftsmen to create the life-size models, real masterpieces made of wax and wood.
Sanctuary S.S. Loreto
This church is also small and intimate, built by Giovanni Maccarone in 1700.
Acireale, perched above the sea, is a city for sea-lovers, too. Picturesque villages, still populated with fishermen and full of ancient traditions are dotted along the nearby coast, waiting to be discovered.
For stays at the hotel for a week or more, daily transport to and from the sea and entry to a lido with beach umbrellas and sun-beds is provided.
Evocative, panoramic terrace above the nature riserve “La Timpa”. Overlooking the see, the view sweeps across the charming bay from Taormina to Syracuse.
Traditional fishing village surrounded by flourishing lemon groves and imposing lava rock, famous for its hydro mineral springs.
Interesting fishing village, lying amongst fragrant orange and lemon groves, at the foot of a wild vegetation of Olive and Almond trees.
S. M. La Scala
Enchanting fishing village, with its original marine architecture. Of particular interest is the walk up the “chiazzette”, ancient steps of Spanish origin which lead to the “Tocco” Fortress, built at the end of the 16th century. (See nature walks "Chiazzette - Spiaggia del Mulino - Sorgente Miuccio").
Friendly village on the coast, immersed in orange groves and high black lava rock.
Ancient Greek settlement, it spreads along a wide bay dominated by Lachea island and the splendid Faraglioni, monolith rocks which jut out of the sea.
The nature reserve is located in an area which has remained almost completely uncontaminated. The “coast of the lemon groves” offers spectacular scenery of rare beauty. “La Timpa” is a cliff face which is made up of built up layers of volcanic rock from various eras, alternating ancient sediment with pale grey lava rock of earlier falls and dark grey from the most recent.
For more info: www.parks.it/riserva.timpa
il borgo marinaro di S.M. La Scala
The "Chiazzette - Spiaggia del Mulino - Sorgente Miuccio" Path
Level of difficulty: medium
A walk through the ancient centre of the city. From the Steps of Aci to the Fortress of Tocco, across the "Chiazzette", picturesque Spanish paths along which you can admire the characteristic aspects of the vegetation of the reserve, until you arrive at the little village of Santa Maria La Scala. By turning left you can reach the Beach of the Windmill where you can see fresh water rivulets right under the rocks, the "water fall" from which the purest water pours, the perfect chance to refresh yourself on the popular pebble beach.
* Return trip by bus from S. M. La Scala to Acireale (www.zappala-torrisi.it)
h: 8,10 | 9,35 | 10,35 | 11,35 | 12,35 | 13,35 | 15,40 | 17,00 | 17,40 | 19,45
(only during working days, tickets can be bought on the bus)
The "Acquegrandi" Path
passegiataLevel of difficulty: high
The path starts near the Via Nazionale, in front of the Church S. M. delle Grazie; take the path which runs alongside the church in order to reach an open space, dominated by a natural amphitheatre, on the right of which there is Acquegrandi beach. To get to the beach, climb down the rocky mule track where at sea level there is a wide, stony beach.
The "Acque Del Ferro" Path-Santa Caterina
Level of difficulty: medium
The path, with entrance from Santa Caterina dalle Terme Nuove, zigzags across the Timpa and allows you to enjoy the splendid countryside until you arrive at the small pebble beach where you will find the fresh water spring "Acque Del Ferro" (Iron Springs), so called because it leaves a rust-coloured deposit on the rocks.
The "Pietra Monaca" Path
Level of difficulty: medium to difficult
Entrance in Via Gangi or Via Pennini, go through the subway under the railway line to reach route 114. Via Pietra Monaca is a straight, uphill road which runs along lemon groves. The name "Pietra Monaca" (stone nun) refers to a rock by the sea which resembles a nun lying down, which can be reached by following the path. From the coastline the Windmill Beach can be reached.
For lovers of culture and tradition, the Puppet Opera is one of Acireale’s most popular tourist attractions, and the theatre dates back to 1887. The Charlemagne cycle is performed here, which includes the fascinating story of the French Paladins and the "unfaithful" Muslims. Shining armour, swirling swords and coloured plumes and "half-moons" illustrate the secular world of knightly epics, through which the heroic sense of life vibrates, according to popular beliefs. The proud puppet hero tells of his brave deeds and courage to a participating audience. Great fun for kids and adults alike.