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—  Comune  —
Comune di Acireale
Piazza del Duomo

Coat of arms
Acireale is located in Italy
Location of Acireale in Italy
Coordinates: 37°37′N 15°10′E / 37.617°N 15.167°E / 37.617; 15.167Coordinates: 37°37′N 15°10′E / 37.617°N 15.167°E / 37.617; 15.167
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Catania (CT)
Frazioni see list
 - Mayor Antonino Garozzo
 - Total 39 km2 (15.1 sq mi)
Elevation 102 m (335 ft)
Population (30 April 2009)
 - Total 52,954
 - Density 1,357.8/km2 (3,516.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Acesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 95024
Dialing code 095
Patron saint St. Venera and St. Sebastian
Saint day 26 July and 20 January
Website Official website

Acireale (Sicilian: Jaciriali; often shortened to Jaci or Aci) is a coastal city and comune in the north-east of the province of Catania, Sicily, Italy, at the foot of Mount Etna, on the coast of the Ionian Sea, and with mineral waters. It is a diocese, famous for its churches, including the Neo-Gothic St. Peter's Basilica, St. Sebastian's Basilica in the Sicilian Baroque style, and the 17th century Acireale Cathedral; and there is a seminary, for the training of priests. Acireale is also noted for its paintings: the oldest academy in Sicily, the "Accademia dei Dafnici e degli Zelanti", is located here.


According to tradition, the city's origins would trace back to Xiphonia, a mysterious Greek city now totally disappeared. In Roman times, here existed another Greek town, Akis, which took part in the Punic Wars. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, there is a great love between Acis, the spirit of the Acis River, and Galatea the sea-nymph. The Acis River is the small stream Fiume di Jaci, flowing past Acireale (the ancient Akis or Acium).

In the Middle Ages, the town grew along the castle (now part of Aci Castello, being known as Jachium under the Byzantines, as Al-Yag under the Arabs and, later, as Aquilia. In 1169 a huge earthquake scattered much of the population towards the mainland, divided between the numerous borough of Aci. Another Aquilia was founded in the late 14th century more northwards, creating the first nucleus of the modern city. The only remain of the medieval Aquilia Nova ("New Aquilia") is the Gothic-Lombard style portal of the cathedral.

In the 16th century emperor Charles V freed the city from any feudal tie, creating it as a Crown commune. In the late 16th century the town had around 6,000/7,000 inhabitants. The most ancient document mentioning the Carnival of Acireale dates to 1594. The town expanded its role as a trade center (it was granted the right to hold a Free Market or Fiera Franca), and received numerous new edifices.

Acireale was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, which substantially halted its economical growth. During the Expedition of the Thousand (1861) which freed Sicily from the Kingdom of Naples, Acireale was the first town to rebel against the Bourbons. In 1941, it was bombed by the Allies, resulting in many civilian victims.

St. Peter's Basilica, Acireale, in an early 20th century photograph.

Main sights

The church of San Biagio in Acireale contains some of the relics of the Venerable Gabriele Allegra, who entered the Franciscan seminary there in 1918.

Other notable places of interest are the Villa Belvedere, a large public park overlooking the Ionian Sea, and the Piazza Duomo. South of the Piazza Duomo, is the oldest section of the city. There are many beautiful historic Baroque buildings, including the Palazzo Pennisi and Palazzo Modò which date from the 17th century. The commercial city centre is located primarily in the streets adjacent to and including the Corso Umberto and Corso Italia which are the city's principal thoroughfares.

Acireale is famous throughout Sicily for its spectacular floats, costumes, and parades during the season of carnival, which attracts many tourists and visitors.

The facade of Palazzo Pennisi, a 17th-century Baroque building
Acireale is famous for its spectacular floats during the carnival season

External links

Wikisource-logo.svg "Acireale". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ACIREALE, a town and episcopal see of the province of Catania, Sicily; from the town of the same name it is distant 9 m. N. by E. Pop. (1901) 35,418. It has some importance as a thermal station, and the springs were used by the Romans. It takes its name from the river Acis, into which, according to the legend, Acis, the lover of Galatea, was changed after he had been slain by Polyphemus. The rocks which Polyphemus hurled at Ulysses are identified with the seven Scogli de' Ciclopi, or Faraglioni, a little to the south of Acireale.

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