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Acireale is a magnificent baroque city along Sicily's Ionian coast, in the province of Catania. It was built on the ancient site of Akis founded by the Greeks, like its name. Following the historic 1693 eruption of Etna that leveled the city, it has been completely rebuilt in the 18th century, when Acireale was one of Sicily's most vibrant cultural centers and the most prominent families enriched the city with new baroque churches and noble palaces.
More About Acireale
Piazza Duomo is the main square, featuring some of the most representative buildings. The cathedral dedicated to Maria Santissima Annunziata houses a sumptuous chapel preserving Santa Venera's relics, patron saint of Acireale. The Town Hall, the ancient Loggia Giuratoria, is a Sicilian baroque masterpiece, featuring wrought iron balconies supported by grotesque masks. The 18th century Zelantea Library and Art Gallery stores a valuable collection of ancient books, paintings and archaeological finds.
A sculptured balustrade, frescoes and valuable paintings decorate the National Monument Basilica of San Sebastian, Acireale's patron saint, celebrated in late January with a procession.
Acireale is renowned for its thermal springs' therapeutic properties since Roman times and the neoclassical Thermal baths of Santa Venera are a main city's attractions. In the Belle Epoque the beneficial virtues of its sulphurous-salt-bromine-iodine thermal water were well known throughout Europe. The Carnival of Acireale is considered the "most beautiful of Sicily", made spectacular by the parade of allegorical-grotesque floats adorned with flowers made by local craftsmen.
Acireale still practices the age-old traditions of the Sicilian Puppet Theatre or Opera dei Pupi in Italian, listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with craftsmen carrying out the art of puppets following traditional methods.
Acireale is famous for ice cream and ''granita'' making. A flavored ''granita'' and a pastry is the perfect traditional summer Sicilian breakfast.