Set on the eastern coast of Sicily, Aci Castello (also known as Acicastello) is famous for its 11th-century Norman castle, which towers above the town and overlooks the dramatic lava-rock coastline. With beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants, and a resort-town atmosphere, Aci Castello is a popular day trip from nearby Catania.
The castle that gives Aci Castello its name was built by the Normans on the remains of a seventh-century fort. Today, the castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions along this stretch of coastline, sitting dramatically on a rock outcropping that juts into the sea.
The castle is home to the Civic Museum, which includes sections devoted to local paleontology, mineralogy, and archaeology. In addition to the historic castle, Aci Castello and the neighboring seaside town of Aci Trezzi offer some lovely beaches. Aci Castello is just north of Catania along the coast, and is an easy day trip from the city. For an especially memorable day, book a sailing tour from Catania to explore this area by sea.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Whether you’re taking a boat tour or exploring the town on foot, bring your swimsuit, because the beaches are so nice, you will want to take a dip.
- Don't forget a hat, sunblock, and plenty of water to stave off the heat.
- To take a boat tour, passengers must be agile enough to board and disembark, so travelers with limited mobility should confirm accessibility before booking.
- The castle is perched in a dramatic position that makes it quite photogenic, so be sure to bring your camera.
- A boat tour or beach trip to Aci Castello is a fun break for children, who also enjoy touring the austere castle.
How to Get to There
Aci Castello is located along the eastern coast of Sicily, which is known as the Cyclops Riviera. It is about 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) north of Catania and 33 miles (53 kilometers) south of Taormina. It’s difficult to reach the town by public transportation, so opt for a tour by land or by boat that includes transportation.
When to Get There
Aci Castello is most crowded in summer, when Sicilians flock to its beaches to escape the heat. Late spring and early fall offer days that are warm enough to take a swim in the crystalline waters off the lava-rock coast without the hassle of large summer crowds.
The Legend of the Cyclops Riviera
Just off the coast, a number of faraglioni (sea stacks) jut out of the sea like soaring rock columns. These are known as the Isole dei Ciclopi, or Cyclops’ Islands. Legends abound about the Cyclops who are said to have lived along this stretch of coastline known as the Cyclops Riviera, and the islands are said to be boulders that the mythical creatures tossed into the sea.