Aci Castello

 

Aci Castello is the first center of the Riviera of the Cyclops, so named for the rocks emerging from the sea and they seem thrown by a giant, legend has it that he was blinded Polyphemus against Ulysses to throw them on the run. Legend has it that he was blinded Polyphemus to hurl these rocks that were driven into the sea, against Ulysses on the run. The origin of this legend has traced the ways in which Homer defines Sicily, virgin and wild land inhabited by Cyclops, Lestrigoni; these verses in fact have led to the identification of the island Lachea and stacks, which are located close to the coast, with boulders that Polyphemus, blinded and furious, threw Ulysses and his team.

The village is very close to Catania, only 9 km away and is easily accessible by bus, so if you stay in the capital do not miss a visit to the picturesque Aci Castello here and spend a beautiful day in nature, on lava beach or on wooden jetties that are mounted during the summer. The visitor Aci Castello is a small seaside resort, lying at the foot of an ancient Norman castle. The sea is not the first attraction of Aci Castello, think that this landscape constituted by the castle and the sea coast, dotted with lemon trees, agaves and palm trees, it is one of the corners of Sicily more portraits by artists and therefore more famous abroad. For us Italians, these areas are familiar to the setting that Giovanni Verga here gave his famous Malavoglias, particularly in neighboring Acitrezza.

In the town of Aci Castello is a special protected area consists of islands and rocks of volcanic origin which are located a short distance from the coast are the Rocks of the Cyclops, fragments up to 70 m high made of basalt prisms. The protected area is larger than 600 hectares and is famous by the name of the Cyclops coast which also includes the village of Acitrezza. 

Acitrezza


Acitrezza located close to Aci Castello, is the country in which Giovanni Verga set his famous novel of Malavoglias (1881) and in which, in 1948, was filmed The Earth Trembles by Luchino Visconti and Antonio Pietrangeli. This film is considered a masterpiece of Italian neorealism and was built using the locals as actors. Many older people still talk about it willingly.

The largest of the rocks of the coast, once known as Lachea island, ended up being private property, but fortunately was donated to the University of Catania who installed a monitoring station for physical studies of marine biology. The rocks and the whole aera protected are in fact a small archipelago, with its animal and plant species, the seabed, at one time are especially rich in fish are still inhabited by sea bass, grouper, snapper, sole and tuna but interesting for biologists is mostly submerged vegetation, a microcosm of many species, with real meadows of Poseidonia.

Taormina


Taormina is a charming and elegant town that still retains much of its historic character. The center is enriched with squares and buildings dating from the fifteenth and the nineteenth century. For its size the theater of Taormina is the second largest in Sicily after the one in Syracuse and today is home to many cultural events, including the famous Taormina Film Festival, concerts of internationally renowned and dance performances that attract visitors from all over the world.

Since the period of the 'Grand Tour' aristocrats and celebrities spent their days among its squares and streets: Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Nietzsche (who here wrote his Also sprach Zarathustra), Richard Wagner, DH Lawrence, Wilhelm von Gloeden.

The Cathedral of Taormina, dedicated to St. Nicholas, located along the main street, Corso Umberto I, was built back in the fifteenth century on the foundations of a previous medieval church and admire especially for monolithic columns of pink marble. To the side, between the Via Umberto and Via Bagnoli Croce, we find the splendid Villa Comunale Park's Duke of Cesaro, whose gardens were specially set up by Lady Florence Trevelyan, Scottish, at the end of the nineteenth century. For one of the best views of the city are recommended instead the neighbors Public Gardens.

To achieve the most popular beaches, such as those Lido Mazzaro (among the best equipped in the entire region, with bars, restaurants and hotels) it is necessary to move to the south of the city through a cable car running every 15 minutes. Over the promontory of Capo Sant' Andrea, we find the beautiful bays and the tiny Isola Bella, a small island also known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, now the WWF reserve.

Syracuse & Ortigia

 

Today, Syracuse is the fourth largest city in Sicily by population, and in 2005 along with the Necropolis of Syracuse is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, already defined by Cicero as "the largest and most beautiful of all the Greek cities," is a unique place, not to be missed.

There are many beauties of Syracuse. In the district of Ortigia, the historical heart of the city, there are the impressive ruins of the Temple of Apollo and Artemis, the oldest Doric temple in Sicily, dating from the late seventh BC. Along the Via XX Settembre to Porta Marina, built by an arch surmounted by a niche in Catalan style. From the garden of the Foro Italico instead you reach the Fountain of Arethusa, an ancient source of fresh water coming from a cave that leads down to the sea. Besides the Cathedral, there is the Archbishop's Palace, Palazzo del Bosco Benevento, Senate Palace and Palazzo Bellomo typical examples of Sicilian Baroque that will only leave you open-mouthed.

The district includes the monumental Neapolis Archaeological Park with the Greek Theatre, the greatest legacy of antiquity, to visit.