Sicilian Acireale is a stone’s throw from Catania and is not the most popular destination for tourists. However, this is a really big mistake! For a very long time, I couldn’t find any power to motivate myself to go there. Apparently only 15 minutes by train from Catania, but somehow I never got there on my way. One of the reasons to go to Sicily in winter!
Everything changed in February, when I found out that Acireale hosts the most beautiful carnival in Sicily, which is also considered the third most important in Italy. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to live so close to it and be able to participate in it!
Additionally, my good colleague – Marco – came from Acireale and like every Sicilian, he was extremely proud of his local traditions and customs. So he decided to do everything to present his city to me from the best and most authentic side!
Finally, I have been to Acireale several times and I can tell you that a beautiful carnival is not the only reason why you should visit this atmospheric town.
Carnival at Acireale
But let’s start with it! If you are wondering whether it is worth coming to Sicily in winter, I am answering you – yes, definitely! And the Carnival of Acireale is one argument for exploring the island during this less popular part of the year. You will not be bored, I guarantee;)
Carnival in Acireale (as well as the entire 8-month stay in Sicily) provided me with a whole spectrum of impressions. I really don’t know if anything previously provided me with so much color, emotion and delight as participating in Sicilian everyday life and various types of events that are organized throughout the year! Sicilians love to celebrate (there will always be an occasion, or they will create one!) 🙂
This carnival holds a special place in my heart mainly for two reasons:
- for the first time in my life I could actively take part in such a colorful celebration of this special period by a completely different culture on such a large scale!
- for the last time before the pandemic, I had the opportunity to play in the street in a crowd of people, which now seems to be something very exotic in retrospect ;P
But why is this carnival so special? You must know that the first mentions of it date back to 1594! Its celebrations take place during the last three carnival weekends, the last of which lasts from Wednesday (including the weekend) until Tuesday – the remnants. Entry to the celebration site, which takes place in the “old town”, costs 5 euros.
The main events take place in Piazza Duomo – the square with the cathedral, but the fun area extends much further and includes streets that deviate from it. Powerful platforms, consisting of perfectly reproduced symbols and characters from various fairy tales, movies, legends and politics, use these roads as well, not only the main area.
These aren’t just ordinary platforms though! Their height often exceeds 20 meters and they… live! When they arrive at Piazza Duomo, an amazing spectacle begins with their participation. These powerful characters perform very complex choreographies prepared in advance, moving their eyes, hands, blinking, appearing and disappearing, all accompanied by amazing lights and music. Their task is not only to provide entertainment, but also to show social and political problems in a crooked mirror in a light and at the same time thought-provoking way.
Interestingly, in the last week of the carnival, you can also admire similar-sized platforms made of only flowers!
For this magical time, the streets of Acireale turn into one big party, where people dressed up happily dance to the rhythm of loud music, showering with confetti and exchanging friendly smiles among themselves. Did I encourage you to visit Acireale in winter? 🙂
Of course, happy celebrations are always accompanied by delicious Sicilian street-food, and in Acireale I ate the best ice cream in my life! You WILL find information on these places in my eBook – Culinary Guide of Catania 🙂
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