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The Carnival of Acireale in brief

Why the Acireale Carnival is the most beautiful in Sicily

The beautiful streets and squares of the historic centre of Acireale are the ideal setting for an unmissable spectacle: a trip to discover the secrets behind one of the most beautiful carnivals in Sicily.

3 minutes

Of all the famous carnivals in Italy, the carnival in Acireale holds a very respectable place. It is a concentration of merriment and good humour and, with its allegorical-grotesque floats, it enlivens the streets and squares of the historic centre, creating a truly unique artistic display.

Let's explore the programme of the Acireale Carnival 2023 to understand the secret that makes this event so eagerly awaited and cherished.

Acireale Carnival floats: history and masks of an ancient tradition

Acireale allegorical float

The Acireale Carnival has a centuries-long history. Indeed, a payment ordered by the Giurati in favour of the Capuchins for the 'festi di carnivali' (carnival festivities) dates back to 1594. At this time of year, the citizens were allowed the freedom to mock those in power: it is precisely from this satirical custom that the masks of the Acireale carnival originated.

One of the oldest is that of Abbatazzu, with his large white wig and damask robe. Also called Pueta Minutizzu, because of the grotesque verses he addresses to the clergy, he walked around with a book in his hand and a napkin hanging from his neck as a sign for exorcising the fear of epidemics.

The main parade is that of the flower-decked floats, initially cars covered in flowers, but today gigantic floats on which flower arrangements and lights are paraded.

Acireale Carnival 2023, programme and dates: lights, music and colours

Acireale Carnival float

If you are wondering when Carnival starts in Acireale this year, make a note of these dates. The event will take place from 4 to 21 February. It starts with the positioning of the grotesque floats along the circuit and of the masks in Piazza Cappuccini, followed by the opening ceremony in Piazza Duomo in the afternoon, with the grand parade and the official presentation of the allegorical works taking part in the competition. The day ends with the opening show.

Don't miss the exhibition of miniature floats, made of clay and plaster, modelled with papier-mâché and exhibited at the Palazzo del Turismo. On 5, 11 and 12 February, you can watch the wonderful parade of floats and masks, with evening concerts in Piazza Duomo. From 13 to 17, again in Piazza Duomo, the municipality's 'Re Carnevale' float is on display. The parades return on the final weekend, before giving way to the big Mardi Gras party on the evening of 21 February, with prize-giving ceremonies, fireworks and the burning of the Carnival King.

What to eat in Acireale: typical Carnival products

Crispelle, typical carnival dish

It is not only the squares, but also the tables of Acireale that come alive during Carnival, with an array of typical products, in the presence of which it is impossible not to indulge in a few indulgent delights.

The dish par excellence are the crispelle, small dough balls stuffed with fresh ricotta and anchovies, easy to eat in the street during the parade. But it is sweets, such as pignolata, composed of grains of fried dough - also called impanuccati - covered with honey and served on lemon leaves, that are especially popular among the participants in the Acireale Carnival. Similarly, there are the sfingi, fried balls either filled or plain, covered with sugar or honey. Then, there are the chiacchiere, shortbread biscuits sprinkled with icing sugar, and rametti, homemade biscuits with few ingredients, made with honey.

How to get to Acireale and where to park: useful information for the Carnival

Waterfront of Acireale

You can reach the Acireale Carnival by car, driving along the A18 Catania-Messina motorway. Take the Acireale junction, turn onto State Road 114 Orientale Sicula and follow the signs towards the centre.

There are numerous parking areas, ranging from the car park in Piazzale Francesco Vecchio to the one in Via Galatea, or the car park in Piazza Catania, Via Einaudi or Via Kennedy.

You can also reach your destination by taking a bus on the AST - Trasporti Urbani Acireale Messina line, which connects the city with Catania railway station, in just 10 minutes, and with Fontanarossa 'Vincenzo Bellini' airport.

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