Visit Aci Trezza
The town of Aci Trezza is a short distance north-east of Catania on the east coast of Sicily. It is a seaside resort whose rocky beaches with their dramatic rock formations in the sea are the main attraction, and the village itself has some pastel coloured houses.
In the sea in front of the town there are some islands that catch the visitor's attention with their bizarre forms: this group of rocks is known by local inhabitants as the “Faraglioni of Trezza” (stacks of Trezza), or more romantically as as the “Islands of the Cyclops".
Explore Aci Trezza
Italy This Way comment: While Aci Trezza is not a major resort, and is rather neglected in places (including the harbour), it is interesting to see the harbour and rocks in the sea, so it is a good place for a promenade as you travel betwen Taormina and Catania.
The town is quite small, with a square overlooked by the parish church and a few restaurants, a small harbour and some houses and apartments along the edge of the sea. The sea front promenade is the main highlight, looking out as it does on the sea, rocks, boats and some impressive sunsets.
The town tends to be at its liveliest on an evening when locals descend from surrounding areas to eat at the fish restaurants on the harbour.
The natural and archaeological features are the main attraction for tourists, and when we talk of Aci Trezza, it is the legendary “Faraglioni” that are the most notable feature - the nature reserve of the “Isola Lachea e Faraglioni dei Ciclopi” ["Lachea Island and rocks of the Cyclops"] was established to protect the fauna and flora of the region.
This important reserve includes the Lachea Island, the large 'Faraglione' and a series of smaller rocks, all of volcanic origin, originating from Mount Etna’s first activity. The Lachea Island, which consists mainly of basaltic rocks, is the largest among the "Island of the Cyclops," and it is linked to the first volcanic eruptions in the Gulf of Acitrezza.
It is probable that the island was inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by a lithic axe and stone tomb, some cemeteries and various caves, among which is the so-called “Grotta del Monaco” ["Cave of the Monk"], because of a hermit who lived in this island.
Along the staircase from the entrance north of the island there are two tanks dug into the rock, in one of which ceramic material was found, that shows that the island was occupied (or visited) in the late Roman age. The remains of an ancient Phoenician fortress and a place of worship of Byzantine origin have also been found, along with some coins.
The archipelago of the Cyclops is also a natural site of great interest to visitors to Aci Trezza. The rich fauna of the waters of the Cyclops includes numerous fishes and invertebrates, and at just a few meters of depth, among the seabed rocks, it is easy to distinguish colonies of sponges, red stars, sea pikes, breams, groupers, seahorses, numb-fishes and lobsters. The sea is full of life and great for scuba divers.
The Lachea fauna is also varied and includes some rodents, reptiles and lizards, several species of birds such as the marsh harrier, peregrine falcon, some waders, the Mediterranean herring Gull, peewit gull and the cormorant. The island flora is essentially composed of selected plants introduced for ornamental purposes.
You can visit the nature trail of the local museum in Aci Trezza, full of historical artifacts and examples of local sea fauna.
We should explain why the "Faraglioni" are also known as the "Island of the Cyclops." According to legend, it was from here that Polyphemus threw huge rocks at the ship of the fleeing Ulysses, the huge rocks that we can still see today, uprooted from Mount Etna.
Close to Aci Trezza, after visiting the “Faraglioni” and toward the southeastern flank of Etna, you can visit the “Aci Castello”, which is named for the presence of a 12th-century Norman castle. The castle is situated on a spur of rock accessed via a stone bridge, which has replaced the original wooden drawbridge. The large tower follows a rectangular plan, around which is the fortified complex.
The museum contains archaeological remains dating back to prehistoric times and Middle Ages. From the first floor of the fortress, passing through a narrow staircase you reach the tower, with a vaulted roof supported by ogival arches, and then from here you find access to a terrace which looks over the landscape of Aci Castello and the Ionian Sea.
After Aci Castello and passing along the side of Mount Etna you arrive at Valverde and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Valverde. Between Valverde and Aci Catena is the hermitage of Saint Anne, an 18th century convent, followed by Aci Sant'Antonio, with Prince's Riggio Palace (17th century).
Aci Trezza is renowned for its fresh fish, and these have given rise to festivals, such as a festival dedicated to the patron saint San Giovanni Battista in late June that is completely dedicated to the swordfish. Each year at the end of July there is a fish festival, when fish is served to the inhabitants of Aci Trezza and to numerous tourists from a huge frying pan.
Just to the south of Aci Trezza is the city of Catania with its impressive Baroque palaces and quirky elephant fountain. To the north is Acireale with some fine medieval and 17th century architecture.
See also Aci Trezza history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.