The province of Catania



A panoramic view of Acireale
Photo © Luigi Nifosì

Acireale (Zip Code 95024) is  215 Km. distant from Agrigento, 143 Km. from Caltanissetta, 16 Km. from Catania, which is the province it belongs to, 108 Km. from Enna, 80 Km. from Messina, 265 Km. from Palermo, 120 Km. from Ragusa, 74 Km. from Siracusa, 372 Km. from Trapani.

The municipality counts 51.560 inhabitants, its surface measures 3.996 hectares, and its population density is of 1290 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises over a coastal hilly area, 302 meters above the sea-level.

Photo © Affinità Elettive Duomo Square

The Town Hall is located in piazza Duomo, tel. ++39 095-895111 fax. ++39 095-7634528.

Over a lavic territory, Acireale boasts a conspicuous production of citrus fruits, cereals, other fruits, and vegetables. Cattle breeding and sheep farms are flourishing, and their deriving products are exhibited at the annual Cattle Fair, held in the month of July. The typical local handicraft work includes wrought iron and lava-rock objects. Hand made embroideries are also very remarkable.

The name Aci derives from the Greek term Akus, that means penetrating and refers to the coldness of the homonymous river, subsequently covered by the lava flow. During the Roman period, the suburb was called Aquilia. Destroyed by 1169's earthquake, it was rebuilt and attributed the name of Aquilia Nuova.

Photo © Affinità Elettive 

The church of San Sebastiano

In 1326, because of an incursion by will of King Roberto of  Napoli, and the subsequent disastrous fire, the inhabitants found shelter on a nearby hill, where they founded the current inhabited center. In 1642, the town was baptized as the "Citta' Regia" (royal city) by King Filippo IV, thus the derivation of today's name Acireale. The town was destroyed once again by 1693's earthquake, and nevertheless blossomed shortly after, and became bigger as numerous monuments and cultural centers were constructed.

The most architecturally interesting monuments include the Roman-Gothic Duomo, of the XIV century, that preserves the Chapel of S. Venera and a silver statue of the Saint, the Basilica dei SS. Pietro e Paolo dated 1600, and the XVII century Chiesa di S. Sebastiano, that has a typical baroque facade. The most outstanding urban structures are the Palazzo comunale, 1659, preserving a rich portal, and the Palazzo Modò preserving beautiful illustrated brackets. Also singular are the Terme di S. Venera (thermal baths), an imposing thermal establishment with a neoclassic facade, dated 1873.

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