The Cyclopes Coast is one of the most picturesque seaside locations on the island of Sicily. It has a poetic name which refers to the ancient work “Odysseus” and is located between the town of Achi Castello and the fishing village Achi Trezza, in the province of Catania, on the coast of the Ionian Sea.
The coast is made up of stone cliffs peeking out of the sea. The whimsically frozen statues look photogenic and conjure up thoughts of ancient sea voyages. The legend of the Odysseus epic says that these rocks were thrown into the sea by Cyclops. In fact, the origin of the rocks is natural. They are the lava emissions of the Sicilian volcano Etna (date of formation of the stone islands is unknown). On one of the volcanic rocks was even built castle (in the XI century), but to this day have survived only the ruins and a tower. You can visit the ruins for free.
The island of Sicily is often called the place of living legends. In ancient times it was part of Greece. Cicero and Archimedes lived here. A legend associated with the Cyclopes coast tells of the adventures of Odysseus on the island.
After the war for Troy ended, Odysseus sailed to his native home for 33 years, having incredible and dangerous adventures. One of them took place on the Sicilian coast of the Ionian Sea. On the island of Sicily, near the volcano Etna (according to legend, Hephaestus’ forge was in the mouth of the volcano) lived cyclops giants who ate people. The most cruel and terrible was called Polyphemus. He was the favorite son of the sea god Poseidon. Polyphemus lived in a huge cave, which by chance Odysseus and his companions entered.
Part of Odysseus’ crew was eaten. But he himself contrived and treated the Cyclops to wine, and when asked about his name he replied, “My name is Nobody.” After drinking all the wine, Polyphemus fell asleep. At that time, Odysseus and his surviving companions heated a stake and blinded the giant. Cyclops awoke in terrible pain and began to call for help from the other giants. When they asked who had blinded him, he shouted: “No one! No one!” Then the Cyclopes mistook his fellow man for a madman and left him. Odysseus and his comrades managed to get out of the cave. And the furious Cyclops began to throw stones into the sea, hoping to sink Odysseus’ ship. This is how the Cyclops coast came to be.
Excursions to the Cyclops coast
The Cyclops Coast is usually visited as part of a day tour. A guided tour of the Cyclops Coast includes not only a fascinating story of ancient Greek myths woven into reality, but also the history of the settlement of Achy Trezza. The small fishing village is notable because it was immortalized in Giovanni Verga’s novel The Malavoglia Family. The film based on the novel was played by real villagers. A guided walk along the shore takes about an hour.
A sightseeing boat trip (arranged with local fishermen) to the cliffs or a kayak rental can be purchased locally. There are also individual tours on more comfortable watercraft with fishing and swimming in the open sea.
Since it doesn’t take long to see the site, most Cyclops Coast tours include visits to other notable sites nearby. It is convenient to combine a tour to the Cyclops Coast with a trip to Etna volcano, a visit to Catania or Taormina, a visit to the filming locations of The Godfather.
You can also visit the place by yourself. In the settlement of Achi Trezza there is a long promenade, walking along which you can consider the coast of Cyclops. A beautiful (but slightly distant) view of the bay with stone cliffs opens from the Norman Castle (visit – 3 euros) in Achi Castello.
A self-guided visit can be combined with a beach vacation. Along the coast of Cyclops stretches a stony beach. The recreation area is divided into a wild beach on the rocks and an equipped area on the pontoon with stairs into the sea. The water here is very clean, but the entrance is quite difficult because of the large rocks.
How to get to the Cyclopean coast in Sicily
The fishing village of Achi Trezza is located 12 km from Catania. The trip by car takes 25-30 minutes. The road is very scenic, runs along the sea in places. Parking on the seafront is paid, a little cheaper will cost to leave the car on a parallel street.
From Catania to Acci Castello you can take bus number 597 (Catania – Acci Reale). Buses run from 05:25 to 20:00. The travel time including intermediate stops is 30 minutes. From Achi Castello to Achi Trezza you can walk along the coast.
A cab ride to Aci Trezza from Catania costs from 40 euros. You can order a cab through Italian services: MyTaxi, WeTaxi, ItTaxi and AppTaxi.
Acitrezza: Sicily without the tourist glitz
When you think of Sicily there are many stereotypes: orange trees, opuntia cacti, mountains, the sea and of course the Mafia. In principle, all true. Despite the efforts of Sicily’s tourist market workers, who have opened luxury hotels shining in all colors of luxury here, the spirit of a folk, uncoiffed Sicily reigns on the island to this day.
Pictured: Acitrezza promenade and Cyclops Island
You only have to turn a corner to see this, for example, by escaping for a day from beautiful Taormina to visit its poor neighbor Acitrezza.
Pictured: a boat on the street of Acitrezza
Acitrezza is a small fishing village about an hour’s drive from Catania airport. Russians tend to see Acitrezza as an economical equivalent of Taormina, plus fans of ancient mythology know that on one of the local islands of volcanic origin, according to legend, lived Cyclops Polyphemus, who was blinded by the cunning Odysseus.
Pictured: Cyclops island, view from the seafront of Achitrezza
For Italians, however, Acitrezza is associated with Giovanni Verga’s novel “The Malovella Family” . The founder of Verism – a literary movement of realism based on the most naturalistic description of reality, describes the hardships of a simple Italian family so sincerely that you can not help but feel the most genuine sympathy for the Sicilian fishermen.
Pictured: Achitrezza fishermen, fishing boats on the pier
The unsettlement, the perpetual lack of money and the hard daily work described in the novel are a given of everyday life in Sicily, which tourists prefer to ignore.
In the photo: the wine trade on Via Acitrezza, homemade wine is poured directly from the back of the car.
Nevertheless, when one finds oneself in Acitrezza, one cannot escape the associations with the novel by Giovanni Verga. Small houses and narrow sidewalks that can only be walked in a crawl, stalls selling arancini and cannoli, stalls with fresh seafood laid out on the counters, and cafes where granita and brioche are served for breakfast.
Pictured: A typical Sicilian breakfast: brioche and granita.
All simple, unadorned, a little shabby and a little peeling, but alive and real, without the artificial tourist gloss.
On the photo: Acitrezza street
The nontouristy atmosphere of Acitrezza is repellent at first, but after a while you begin to appreciate it, because you realize that in this place you can observe with the interest of a scholar the life of a real Sicilian village.
In the photo: the promenade of Acitrezza
If you find yourself in Acitrezza, the first place to go is the waterfront. The local promenade or lugomare is a tiled promenade with stalls selling soda. Make soda grandmother’s way: pour a plastic glass tamarind syrup, add the juice of a lemon, dilute it all with plain water, which is then sprinkled with ordinary baking soda for foam. Remember Bulgakov in “The Master and Margarita”: “Apricot gave an abundant foam”? Here, it’s exactly the same.
Pictured: making tamarinds at a street stall on the waterfront of Achitrezza
The same cacti grow in the clay pots that are set up on the waterfront, and the view of Polyphemus Island from the shore, not without reason the place is called the Riviera of Cyclops. The local islands (the one on which Cyclops lived and the neighboring ones) are the children of Etna, by the way, the famous volcano can be seen from anywhere in the town.
In the photo: islands near Achitrezza
Many years ago lava, still bubbling in the womb of the volcano, emerged from the depths of the sea near Acitrezza, and so the black islands appeared, appearing to romantics as ancient petrified monsters and to people devoid of poetic imagination as cones rising in the middle of the waves.
On the photo: islands near the waterfront – the favorite places of couples in love
The second local attraction is the castle in the neighboring town of Achi-Castello, which can be reached on foot if you move along the promenade in the direction of Catania.
On the photo: the silhouette of Achi-Castello Castle is very reminiscent of a warship
Unfortunately, it is not possible to walk constantly along the beach, half of the lugomare belongs to the hotel, so you have to climb up to the roadway on the stairs, under the arches of which the local fishermen like to play cards at dusk.
Pictured: Achitrezza fishermen playing cards
Achi-Castello Castle from afar looks like a giant petrified warship or twin brother of Alcatraz, in fact the castle is rather a miniature construction, just built on a rock, the silhouette of which is similar to the hull of the ship.
Pictured: Achi-Castello Castle
Although the must-see attractions of Acitrezza are certainly worth seeing, the introduction to the city can only be considered complete if you manage to touch its daily life.
In the photo: boats on the seafront of Achitrezza
This very daily life begins, as it should be in a fishing village, before dawn, when the Sicilian wooden boats, equipped with both oars and a motor, begin to head out to sea for fresh fish. By about ten o’clock in the morning, the fishermen are already back in the harbor and heading out for breakfast, some to their homes and some to local cafes that serve brioche buns with granita, a local variety of fruit ice.
Pictured: selling fish from the back of a car on the streets of Achitrezza
At the same time, a brisk trade begins on the seafront, with Sicilian housewives and chefs of local restaurants crowding the stalls with fish and sea creatures still alive, and the vans of vegetable sellers driving around the streets – the local entrepreneurs announcing their arrival to the people with deafening shouts from loudspeakers mounted on the roofs of cars.
Pictured: artichoke truck, Achitrezza
In the afternoon, life in Acitrezza dies down: the rare passersby, the elderly gentlemen sitting on benches and incessantly smoking cigarettes, they see the tourists with sidelong glances and leisurely discuss the events of the day.
Pictured: Sicilian gentlemen on holiday
The second time the city wakes up only at 9 pm, that’s when the local restaurants begin to arrive first visitors. In Acitrezza, even by Italian standards, dinner is late and even by Italian standards very dense.
Pictured: Palermo-style pasta
Roasted vegetables as an appetizer, Palermo-style pasta with anchovies, tomato sauce, pine nuts, fennel and raisins as a first course, fish or seafood as a second course, no wonder the older seniors of Achitrezza boast a solid build. Those who aren’t in the habit of eating too much for the night should check out the local bars. The atmosphere is extremely homely, and the owners even sometimes allow their guests to smoke indoors, which is strictly forbidden in other regions of Italy.
Pictured: the promenade of Acitrezza with fishing boats
Sometimes local dons drop by the bars to help themselves to nuts and chips on the bar, and the bar owners with amazing speed begin to offer the dons to try the best wine (of course, completely free), to pull out the more expensive cheese from the stash and put it on the bar, whispering: “Prego Don Carlo! Prego!”
Pictured: a couple lounging on the shoreline rocks
Involuntarily, you catch yourself thinking that somehow you managed to find yourself inside one of Mario Puzo’s books! Even the fact that the young ladies in Achitrezza are not wearing long black dresses, but tight, low-rise jeans, exposing the waistline and everything below, and that the local boys are not dressed in black pants with suspenders, but in sports pants and the obligatory white sneakers, doesn’t help you shake off this feeling. Yes, the scenery has changed a bit, and so have the costumes of the characters, but the essence remains the same. It seems to be exactly the kind of Sicily we’re used to imagining.