If you visit the Baroque city of Catania, taking the coastal road north to see the Riviera dei Ciclopi will be the natural continuation of your journey.
A few kilometers from Catania (about 7), begins one of the places where the myths define the places: the so-called Riviera dei Ciclopi, where the deep blue blends with an almost always blue sky.
Myths and legends
The Riviera takes its name from the myth of the Cyclops (or Giants) who, according to the Greek people, lived in the area, devoting themselves to sheep farming as well as working with iron, creating lightning strikes for the king of Olympus Zeus. Walking down the street or opening Google maps you will have realized that in the area adjacent to Catania many places are called by names that all have the prefix “ACI”.
The ACI shepherd of the local myth was killed out of jealousy by the Cyclops Polyphemus, he was furious because of his deep love paid for the nymph Galatea. It is said that the blood of the lover Aci was transformed into an act of piety in a river that still flows underground today, to throw itself into the sea in order to allow Aci an eternal embrace with his sweetheart.
The three places that frame it
The first town of the Riviera dei Ciclopi is Aci Castello: a small seaside village where the Swabian-Norman Castle, or rather, what remains of it, stands as a symbol of the place on a rock overlooking the sea. It was built in the VII d.c. on lava rock. After the year one thousand it was conquered by the Norman kings and followed the historical events of its territory as well as the consequences of various earthquakes.
Today what remains is the quadrangular tower in the center of the structure, where today the Civic Museum and the small botanical garden with succulent plants from all over the world stand. The beautiful view of the sea and the Faraglioni of Aci Trezza and the wonderful panorama represent one of the most precious and essential destinations before resuming the road towards the second hamlet of the Riviera.
ACI TREZZA is famously the town of Giovanni Verga’s Malavoglia, which attracts tourists from all over the year thanks to the legend of the Cyclops Polyphemus. It is said that he threw rocks at Ulysses who had blinded him.
The myth thus gave birth to these beautiful Faraglioni which, in reality, together with the island of Lachea, are part of a protected nature reserve for marine fauna and the seabed.
If you wish to visit it, you can go to the marina and with a fisherman’s boat be “ferried” in a few minutes. The cost is very low and the experience is really worth it.
The last stretch of the Riviera dei Ciclopi passes through ACIREALE. Very famous for the Carnival of Acireale, it is also precious for Piazza Duomo and all its baroque churches. The Cathedral dedicated to the Annunziata and to Santa Venera (whose interior has a detail of the sundial from 1843) and the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
The long Corso “Vittorio Emanuele” is dotted with beautiful buildings and the Basilica of San Sebastiano, which is another testimony of the local baroque.