Known for its elaborate masks and allegorical floats, the Carnival of Acireale, province of Catania, in Sicily is considered to be one of the most beautiful celebrations in Italy this time of year.
In a process requiring time and patience as well as talent, local artisans create floats made out of paper-mache or flowers, a local tradition dating all the way back to the 1600s.
Displays often depict the satirical masks of celebrities and competition is fierce as prizes are awarded to the best floats in each category.
Although the city itself may take a backseat to the winter festivities, Acireale boasts an impressive history that can be traced as far back as the eighth century B.C. and includes Byzantine as well as Greek and Roman influences.
The city offers a library founded in the 1600s and several fresco-filled churches, as well as a rich selection of renowned culinary specialties, including lemon or almond flavored granita, “pasta reale,” cannoli, and fresh seafood.
In addition, the area surrounding Acireale offers many quaint seaside villages and thermal baths.
Carnival event dates for this year can be found at: www.carnevaleacireale.com/en/calendar.html
Dan Hostetler adds:
Some say this is the most beautiful celebration of Carnivale in Sicily and it takes place on the first afternoon the colorful parades begin from the Piazza dell Madonna in Acireale with all their masked participants and giant floats. The floats here take on their own political and satirical messages as they represent famous events and personalities, all represented tongue in cheek fashion.
There is a preponderance of locally grown lemons and oranges used in the making of these floats which puts a perfume in the air is not equaled anywhere in Italy. There is such an orgy of smells, sounds and colorful sights during this celebration that it is to be put in a category all of its own. Anyone visiting Sicily during this period should make an effort to participate in this week-long party!
The carnival takes place over a long perod from the beginning of the 3rd week of February to the end of the first week of March.