In the heart of the province of Catania, on the eastern coast of the beautiful island of Sicily, lies a charming seaside village known as Aci Trezza. This small town, part of the municipality of Aci Castello, is a place rich in history, culture, legends and monuments that capture the imagination of anyone who sets foot there. Ready for a trip with Sicilian Secrets?
Aci Trezza is a gem of eastern Sicily that captivates visitors with its rich history, seafaring culture, compelling legends and evocative monuments. A place where past and present come together in a unique experience, it is definitely worth a trip to immerse yourself in its enchanting atmosphere where mythology, with the tales of Ulysses, is stile alive every day.
The history of Aci Trezza dates back to ancient times. It is believed that it was already inhabited in prehistoric times, but its notoriety has grown especially some centuries later. One of the most significant moments in its history was the Norman Age, when the nearby town of Aci Castello was founded. It is said that Aci Castello and the other ‘Aci’ derive from the mysterious Greek city of Xiphonia perhaps superimposed, in terms of territory, on our Aci Catena.
About Aci Trezza…
Aci Trezza became an important fishing and trading center, thanks to its strategic position on the Ionian Sea: founded in the late 17th century by the Palermo nobleman Stefano Riggio as a seaport for his own fiefdom, over time, the village was the scene of various events, including raids by Saracen pirates and the devastation caused by the earthquake in 1693. However, it has always found the strength to revive and prosper, becoming today not only a site of naturalistic interest but also a popular tourist destination.
«[…] perché il mare non ha paese nemmen lui, ed è di tutti quelli che lo stanno ad ascoltare, di qua e di là dove nasce e muore il sole, anzi ad Aci Trezza ha un modo tutto suo di brontolare, e si riconosce subito al gorgogliare che fa tra quegli scogli nei quali si rompe, e par la voce di un amico».
G. Verga, I Malavoglia
What will surprise you during a trip to Aci Trezza
The culture of Aci Trezza is strongly influenced by its seafaring tradition. The sea has always been the main economic engine of the town, and fishing has been one of the main activities for generations. Even today, it is possible to admire the typical fishing boats, called ‘luzzu’, that adorn the harbor. Local cuisine is another important expression of the local culture. Fresh fish dishes are a real specialty, and restaurants offer a wide selection of delicacies all to be enjoyed. Do you know that according to tradition Aci Trezza is the home of ice cream and granitas, invented here by the cook Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli? Amazing!
When to take this gastronomic tour? Perhaps during the patronal festival of Aci Trezza, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. This is a very important event that takes place every year on June 24th. The festival includes a religious procession, fireworks and cultural events involving the entire community. Not surprisingly, the town’s main church is dedicated precisely to St. John the Baptist. Its Baroque facade with a classical portal will make you stop at least to take a photograph!
From the monuments…
Among Acitrezza’s most emblematic monuments is the Norman Castle (known as Castello di Aci), although located on the nearby hill of Aci Castello. This fortification, built between the 11th and 13th centuries, offers breathtaking views of the coast and Mount Etna and represents an important historical and cultural heritage of the area. On the territory of Aci Trezza, on the other hand, we can see the Tower of the Stacks, the only survivor of the defense apparatus that the Princes of Aci had erected to protect the town and the centerpiece of a painting by Jakob Philipp Hackert exhibited at the Royal Palace of Caserta. Finally, the stacks of Aci Trezza, known as ‘the Cyclopes’, are another must-see attraction. These towering volcanic rocks emerge from the sea and form a unique natural spectacle. But what is the history (or legend!) around these rocks by the sea?
…to the legends!
One of the most famous legends of Aci Trezza concerns precisely the stacks, massive rock formations that emerge from the sea. It is said that these are actually the result of the fury of the mythical Polyphemus, the Cyclops whom Ulysses meets in the Odyssey. The story goes that Polyphemus is said to have thrown huge boulders against Odysseus and his companions as they attempted to escape from his cave. Ulysses, despite the Cyclops’ violence, saved himself, and the rocks thrown by the terrible giant became precisely the stacks of Aci Trezza.
Are you curious…?
Aci Trezza is also a literary place. It is here, in fact, that Giovanni Verga set his veristic masterpiece ‘I Malavoglia’ making the town the protagonist. Walking through the streets it is not difficult to come across some of the places described by Verga, just think of the aforementioned Church of St. John the Baptist and the Stacks, and again the Lo Sgricciu that is, a large fountain in Piazza Stefano Riggio. And then, how can we forget the cinema. Luchino Visconti made the town the set of his movie ‘La terra trema’ (The Earth Trembles), filmed in 1948 and still recognized as a pride of Italian neorealism so much so that it is counted among the 100 Italian films to be saved.
Aci Trezza? Immortal!