Acireale, Sicily

© maria concetta maugeri –

In Catania province, at the foot of Etna, Acireale is one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Sicily built in an area which has been famous for its natural beauty and the healing properties of its sulphurous waters since the days of Magna Grecia.

The proximity of Etna – the irresistible allure of the fire mountain – is, of course, the key to the town which is the starting point for walks up the crater through the fragrant citrus groves which cover its slopes.

Acireale, though, has a lot of other attractions too. It is an art and history town, the birthplace of Sicilian baroque, with its magnificent Piazza del Duomo. Churches worth visiting include San Sebastiano, patron saint of the town, with its ten statues of old testament figures and the frescoes of the painter Paolo Vasta.

Continuing up the slopes of Etna, an experience not to be missed is a visit to the nature reserve of Timpa, site of the first Greek settlement around the volcano which was swept away by its eruptions. Today this stepped high plateau is a flourishing example of the fertility of volcanic soil with its uncontaminated, dense vegetation.

Acireale is also famous for its carnival which, alongside the classic papier-mâché floats, features flower covered floats attached to great metal frames depicting the various personalities of the yearly theme. If you are planning a visit here for local festivities we recommend that you consult the calendar of festivals and events in Sicily.

Acireale’s beaches

Acireale’s coastline is beautiful, indented and verdant with palm trees and orange groves. Its many villas and houses are not excessive and there is very little urban sprawl. The best beach from which to enjoy the tides of Sicily’s crystal clear seas is Mulino beach in the Timpa nature reserve area. You can get to it on a downhill footpath to the small seaside town of Santa Maria la Scala. The whole area is great for coastal walking and there are a number of sandy beaches surrounded by dense vegetation.