Acireale, Province of Catania, Sicily, Italy

History | Education | Secular Sites and Buildings | Religious sites | Cuisine | Events

🇮🇹 Acireale is a coastal city and comune in the north-east of the Metropolitan City of Catania, Sicily, southern Italy, at the foot of Mount Etna, on the coast facing the Ionian Sea. It is home to numerous churches, including the Neo-Gothic St. Peter's Basilica, St. Sebastian's Basilica in the Sicilian Baroque style, and the 17th century Acireale Cathedral, and a seminary, for the training of priests. Acireale is also noted for its art and paintings: the oldest academy in Sicily, the "Accademia dei Dafnici e degli Zelanti", is located here.

History According to tradition, the city's origins trace back to Xiphonia, a mysterious Greek city whose location is unknown. In Roman times, there existed another Greek town, Akis, which was involved in the Punic Wars. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, there is a great love between Ā́cis, the spirit of the Ā́cis River, and Galatea the sea-nymph. According to mythology, the tears of Galatea after the death of Ā́cis gave birth to the Ā́cis River, Fiume di Jaci, flowing past Acireale (the ancient Akis or Acium). The Romans called the town Acium, and it was on the main road from Catana to Tauromenium. The Romans used the thermal springs located here.

In the Middle Ages, the town expanded around the castle (now part of AciCastello), known as Jachium under the Byzantines, as Al-Yāj (الياج) under the Arabs, and, later, as Aquilia. The potent 1169 Sicily earthquake scattered the population of the city farther into the mainland, divided between the numerous boroughs of Aci. Another town, Aquilia Nova ("New Aquilia"), was founded in the late 14th century further north, creating the nucleus of what is now Acireale. The only extant architectural remnant of this medieval town is Gothic-Lombard-style portal of the church of Sant'Antonio di Padova.

In the 16th century, Emperor Charles V freed the city from feudal ties, creating it as a Crown commune. In the late 16th century, the town had between 6,000 and 7,000 inhabitants. The most ancient document mentioning the Carnival of Acireale dates to 1594. The town expanded its role as a trade centre (it was granted the right to hold a Free Market or Fiera Franca) and received numerous new edifices.

Acireale was nearly destroyed by the massive 1693 Sicily earthquake, which substantially halted its economic growth, and required near-complete reconstruction of all the buildings. During the Expedition of the Thousand in 1861, led by Garibaldi and which liberated Sicily from the rule of the Bourbon Kingdom of Napoli, Acireale was the first town to rebel against the Neapolitan rule. In 1941, the town was bombed by the Allies, resulting in many civilian casualties.

Education The city had grown in the second half of the 19th century as a "City of Studies" because there was a heritage of several boarding schools and institutions of higher education that today can be considered lost in the absence of a university campus. In Acireale there are several Secondary schools, public and private, divided between high schools, technical and professional institutes, which are also largely frequented by students from neighboring municipalities.

Secular Sites and Buildings • Villa Belvedere and Parco delle Terme, two large public parks and "La Timpa", a beautiful natural reserve overlooking the Ionian Sea, offer great nature sights. • Piazza Duomo, with the twin churches of the Acireale Cathedral and Santi Pietro e Paolo, is in the main square of the city. • Palazzo della Città, Acireale • Palazzo Pennisi • Palazzo Modò, which date from the 17th century • Palazzo Musmeci dating from the 18th century. • Commercial city centre is primarily located in the streets including and adjacent to Corso Umberto and Corso Italia, which are the city's principal thoroughfares. • Fortezza del Tocco, a 16th-century fort, has been converted to a nature reserve. • Zelantea Library (Biblioteca) and Art Gallery (Pinacoteca Zelantea): originate from collections and a society of scholars begun in the seventeenth century. Both are housed in a neoclassical palace built in the nineteenth century by the engineer Mariano Panebianco, which holds some collections of art and ancient texts. • Museum of peasant traditions of Aci Platani: houses a reconstruction of a typical house of an Etnean peasant family of the nineteenth century. • Uniform Museum: housed in the Palazzo del Comune in Piazza Duomo, holds a collection of historical uniforms from the end of the eighteenth century. • Museum of the Opera dei Pupi in Via Alessi. • Carnival Museum: located inside the Palazzo del Turismo in via Ruggero Settimo, 11. • Floristella Monetary: numismatic collection of Agostino Pennisi of Floristella currently located at the Regional Archaeological Museum of Syracuse and is waiting for a location in the city. • Teatro dell'Opera dei Pupi of Capomulini: concentrates in the exhibition spaces the important tradition of the Acesis puppeteers passed on for generations (and recognized, along with the other Sicilian puppeteer traditions, as intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO). • Diocesan Museum in via Genuardi.

Religious sites • Acireale Cathedral • Sant'Antonio di Padova • San Biagio: contains relics of the Venerable Gabriele Allegra, who had entered the Franciscan seminary in 1918. • San Camillo • San Domenico • Santa Maria degli Agonizzanti • Santa Maria del Suffragio • Church of the Oratory • Santi Pietro e Paolo • San Sebastiano: Collegiate Basilica

Cuisine The granita, an excellent refreshment from the summer mugginess, in Acireale is considered almost a ritual. Probably born from the tradition of the «nevaroli» who transported the snow from the Etna up to the seashore when the refrigerator did not yet exist, in the city the invention of the granita is attributed to the ingenious Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli from  Acitrezza that, with the café «le Procope», had much success in 17th-century Paris.

Generally, it is served in its basic almond flavored recipe and accompanied by a brioche. Lemon granita is also very common. Another typical food of the Acesis summer is seltzer with lemon and salt, sold at the numerous kiosks that are found in the streets of the city.

In addition, the pastries are renowned, in which the zeppole of rice with honey (also called crispelle di San Giuseppe in other municipalities), the cannoli filled with chocolate cream, white cream or ricotta, small pastry products and artisan gelato are its crowned jewels and the diners with fresh baked goods (arancini, "cartocciate", "cipolline" etc.) as well as sweet breakfast products (croissants, panzerotti, "raviole" filled with ricotta cheese, "iris" filled with chocolate cream or white cream). In the fishing villages there are many restaurants that offer menus based only on fresh fish.

Acireale, along with its district, is also known for the Etna Lemon, which in October 2020 obtained the prestigious recognition I.G.P. by the European Union.

Events Acireale houses costumes and floats parades during the carnival season.

Image: Adobe Stock Kavalenkava #259884445

Acireale has a population of over 52,590 people. Acireale also forms one of the centres of the wider Catania Province which has a population of over 1,107,702 people.

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Twin Towns, Sister Cities Acireale has links with:

🇫🇷 Arles-sur-Tech, France 🇦🇹 Bad Hall, Austria 🇮🇹 Bienno, Italy 🇪🇸 Campdevànol, Spain 🇺🇦 Donetsk, Ukraine 🇩🇪 Friesoythe, Germany 🇺🇦 Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine 🇩🇪 Kolbermoor, Germany 🇨🇿 Lipník nad Bečvou, Czech Republic 🇦🇷 Mar del Plata, Argentina 🇫🇮 Mynämäki, Finland 🇫🇷 Nantes, France 🇩🇪 Olbernhau, Germany 🇳🇱 Oude IJsselstreek, Netherlands 🇮🇹 Pratovecchio-Stia, Italy 🇩🇪 Stolberg, Germany 🇷🇺 Ulyanovsk, Russia 🇮🇹 Viareggio, Italy 🇳🇱 Wisch, Netherlands 🇦🇹 Ybbsitz, Austria 🇲🇹 Żebbuġ, Malta 🇳🇴 Øvre Eiker, Norway
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Acireale is: -164.834,-37.613

Locations Near: Acireale 15.1662,37.6127

🇮🇹 Catania 15.083,37.5 d: 14.5  

🇮🇹 Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto 15.221,38.148 d: 59.7  

🇮🇹 Messina 15.553,38.178 d: 71.5  

🇮🇹 Reggio 15.65,38.1 d: 68.8  

🇮🇹 Reggio Calabria 15.652,38.113 d: 70.1  

🇮🇹 Caltagirone 14.5,37.233 d: 72.4  

🇮🇹 Ragusa 14.732,36.926 d: 85.5  

🇮🇹 Modica 14.761,36.859 d: 91.2  

🇮🇹 Enna 14.267,37.55 d: 79.6  

🇮🇹 Vittoria 14.533,36.95 d: 92.5  

Antipodal to: Acireale -164.834,-37.613

🇹🇴 Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 17928.4  

🇦🇸 Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 17356.6  

🇼🇸 Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 17283.5  

🇵🇫 Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 17331.4  

🇺🇸 Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 13558.3  

🇺🇸 Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 13469.6  

🇺🇸 Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 13455.7  

🇺🇸 Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 13451.3  

🇺🇸 Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 13451  

🇺🇸 Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 13423.6  

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