Acireale is one of the largest cities of Catania province. It is famous all over the world for its architectural monuments and thermal springs. Acireale is located on the eastern slopes of the Etna Volcano, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, 16 km from the capital of the province and 265 km from Palermo.
The location of Acireale defined its destiny. For many times the city was the victim of indomitable Etna. In 1169 and 1693 it was severly damaged by the earthquakes. But it is ironic that the earthquake of 1693 contributed to the city development. After Acireale was restored, there appeared a lot of new monuments, many of which have been preserved until nowadays.
The city of Acireale has two unofficial titles: the “city of bell towers” and the “the city of blooming Baroque”. The historical centre of Acireale is Piazza del Duomo. The architectural concept belongs to several monastic orders – the Dominicans, the Capuchins and the Carmelits, who decided to create a new urban centre in Acireale. Until nowadays the square preserved its original form, with buildings in Baroque style and impressive Dome Cathedral (Duomo) as a central facility. Cathedral, in addition to the unique skillful appearance of all Italian temples, is also famous for its chapel of St Venera. Other significant sights of the city include Saint Peter’s Basilica and St. Sebastian Church. Until now two magnificent palaces survived in Acireale: Palazzo Comunale with its richly adorned entry, where the city hall is located now, and Palazzo Modò.
Acireale was a famous spa resort in the times of Ancient Greece. The Greeks built the first thermae here. Nowadays Acireale Spa is a large complex of hotels and baths which offer treatment and therapy with the help of the healing springs of different composition: hydrosulphuric, radon and iodine-bromine. The emphasis is made on spa resort so that a great number of tourists could enjoy it all year round.
Of course, the Carnival of Acireale is the main event of the city life. It is a spectacular train that takes place during the two weeks in the end of January or at the beginning of February. It stuns spectators with the flow of bright images, Sicilian colors and fantastic atmosphere of a real medieval pageant. Parade of wagons is decorated with flowers and carts with the characters of the Italian folk opera that become the central episode of the carnival. The carnival usually starts at Piazza del Duomo.