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Aci Castello, Province of Catania, Sicily region, Italy





Aci Castello is an agricultural town not far from Catania, including also in its territory the smaller center of Aci Trezza, famous as the setting of Verga's I Malavoglia.

The town rises over a picturesque gulf, just below a rocky cliff formed through thousands of years by the magma from undersea eruptions, on which rises the imposing Norman castle. Aci Castello was always a fishermen's port, but it used to attract through the centuries poets and artists, thanks to the unbelievable beauty of its natural landscape.

Info

Altitude: 15 m a.s.l -- Population: about 18,000 inhabitants -- Zip/postal code: 95021 -- Phone Area Code: 095 -- Patron Saint: San Mauro celebrated on 15 January -- Frazioni & Località: Aci Trezza, Cannizzaro, Ficarazzi

What to see

  • The Norman castle, built with the same lava rock of the cliffs in the 11th century AD. The fortress rises in a highly strategic position, controlling the ships directed to the Messina strait.
  • the Museo Civico, with a collection of items from Sicily's past ages, a nature section and a botanical garden.
  • Parco Letterario del Verga - open-air itineraries through the landscapes described in the novels and short stories of the great Italian writer, including the castle, present in "Le storie del Castello di Trezza", a steamship trip to the "Grotte di Ulisse" where the Malavoglia boat finds its tragic final destiny, a trip up to the Aetna to visit the farmhouses described in many works, and a night-time boat ride on the "lampare"
  • 16th century parish church of San Mauro, with a silver-plated statue of the saint, donated it seems centuries ago by a French sea captain who was helped by the citizens to free his ship from the rocks where it was blocked.

Events

  • 24 June at Acitrezza, the feast of patron San Giovanni Battista called "U pisci a mari", when a pantomime of the capture of the swordfish is repeated, one of the most beautiful folk events in Sicily, strangely reminiscent of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in its admiration for the fish, that in the end of the representation escapes and returns to the sea.


Province of Catania

History

In the area called Timpa Rosa there are traces of sepulchres inside the local grottos, going back to 2,000 years BC. In Homer's Odyssey this was the land of the Cyclops, and folk legends say that the faraglioni in the sea of Acitrezza are the rocks thrown by the blinded cyclop against Ulysses.

There is still another legend connected to the Cyclop Polyphemus: jealous of the nymph Galatea, who loved the handsome shepherd Aci, he killed the youth with a huge rock; the gods, moved by the despair of Galathea, changed the murdered Aci into a river that crosses the valley and gives name to eight towns, then flows into the arms of Galatea, waiting for him in the sea.

In Roman times there was a settlement in the area called Acium. There was below the castle a settlement under the Arab domination called Al Yag. It was hit by two ominous earthquakes in 1169 and again in 1693.



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