Sicily Carnival

They're a satirical bunch...

Add This

Sophie Gackowski

Sophie Gackowski
HomeAway travel expert


Sicily CarnivalType ‘Sicily Carnival’ into a search engine and you’ll find websites about Acireale, a coastal town in Catania, which sits at the foot of Mount Etna. Why? Because when carnival season rolls round, it’s the island’s most famous destination – and not only for locals, but tourists around the world. While this northeastern town is usually known for its basilicas and cathedrals, art and paintings, it is regarded as host to Italy’s most amazing celebration in spring, complete with float-filled parades and costume-clad partygoers. And it’s been going since the 16th century.

Fancy getting your gladrags on, too? The main event takes place from mid-February to early March, with major celebrations and parades reserved for the weekend. Well, even Sicilians have to work! Think big, brash and absolutely hilarious.

Here’s all you need to know about Sicily Carnival.

 

Sicily Carnival: everything you need to know


   

Sicily Carnival: history Sicily Carnival: history

The traditions that make up the Acireale Carnival are many, though thankfully rotten eggs were banned some time ago… Events like this probably hark back to Roman Baccanali, when townspeople would yell, sing and dress up in weird costumes – well, what do you expect? They were drunk! As time went on things grew a little less furious: more friendly poets, or ‘abbatazzi’, would improvise songs on the streets; and in the 1900s, ‘cassariata’ (horse-led carriages) were topped by nobles who’d shower spectators – no, not in smelly eggs – but confetti and sweets. 

View rentals in Catania province

 
   
 

   

Sicily Carnival: floats Sicily Carnival: floats

Sicily Carnival had its first float back in 1601, but it wasn’t papier-mâché, and it belonged to Palermo (hiss!). Although the tradition of making floats this way dates back to the 17th century, it was widely used for building icons in Acireale – and let’s face it: that’s a little different to artworks that take the mickey out of local celebs. It took until the 19th century, and a certain Sebastiano Longo, for something like today’s floats to appear.

View holiday homes in Viagrande

 
   
 

   

Sicily Carnival: parade Sicily Carnival: parade

Today, the biggest draw of the Acireale Carnival is obviously its amazing parade, full to bursting with the outrageous and colourful floats you see here. Leaving from Piazza Duomo, the orange and lemon-scented procession (local fruits are often used in the making of them), is a platform for allegory and poking fun, so expect to hear giggles. You might not know who all the figures are (though Alice in Wonderland’s made the odd appearance) but hey – it’s as much about the spectacle as anything else.

View Aci Castello apartments

 
   
 

   

Sicily Carnival: taking part Sicily Carnival: taking part

You know those rotten eggs I mentioned? Yeah, don’t worry about those guys. Today it’s all about confetti and foam, the former often made from the morning’s newspaper. And as for the rest? Just stand by and admire – there are concerts, marching bands and at the end of the event, an award ceremony. Prizes are given out to the best artisans in each category, and for floats of a satirical nature, of course, the winners are those who’ve created the most artful slagging-off. You’d think the best-known celebrities, politicians and well-known figures in the country’d be shaking in their boots!

View Catania City holiday homes

 
   
 

   

Sicily Carnival: Acireale Sicily Carnival: Acireale

Acireale’s own history goes way back to the 8th century BC, so you’ll be able to spot everything from Roman, Greek and Byzantine remains, to beautiful Baroque architecture. As for activities, you’ve got the Ionian Sea one side, Mount Etna on the other, and the larger city of Catania just three miles away. And, when it comes to eating, there are cannoli – oh cannoli. Just reading the name puts on 100 calories. A crispy, tasty, pastry shell stuffed with sweet ricotta, pistachios and dried fruit, who wouldn’t want to eat more than one?

View Acireale rentals

 
   
 

Images 3 and 4 by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

 

Sicily Holiday Rentals

Countryside villa with pool 'Villa Bellavista'

Villa Panoramica Noto is a nice holiday property with large swimming pool, in a superb panoramic position of Noto's countryside. Is featuring three bedrooms and three bathrooms and many nice amenities. A beautiful green is very well managed all ar...

Antica Masseria

Situated in the increasingly popular south eastern tip of Sicily, within reach of unspoilt sandy beaches and the historic town of Ragusa, the impressive Villa Antica Masseria will suit large groups who appreciate the space, privacy and grandeur of...

Villa Rita

A wonderfully spacious, modern villa overlooking the sea near Cefalu, Villa Rita suits those who appreciate a fully kitted out holiday home with room for everyone to relax in beautiful surroundings. Furnished in a contemporary style, the smooth, ...

Terrazza Piazzetta

This charming apartment in the heart of historic Cefalù has all you need for a splendid stay in this beautiful town. Just a few metres from the beach, the Piazza Duomo, and many welcoming bars and restaurants, and with spectacular panoramic sea vi...

Terrazza del Centro

This beautiful apartment, located in the center of the historic area of Cefalù, is just a few meters from the main sandy beach (Lungomare) and from the Norman cathedral of Cefalù (Piazza Duomo). The flat has a lovely balcony with a view of the se...

Terrazza Paradiso

Terrazza Paradiso is perfectly placed in the heart of historic Cefalù’s old town, overlooking the idyllic marina and adjacent beach. The perfect place to take in an authentic slice of traditional Sicilian life, the apartment is also close to sever...

villa provenza

A large and much loved family villa near Cefalu with enough room and privacy for everyone. Framed by palm trees and lush Mediterranean gardens, guests staying at Villa Provenza can enjoy stunning sea views while sun bathing, dining or lying in th...

Sunny villa in the nature reserve 'Oasi del simeto', just 600 meters from the sandy beach

Villa Allegra is part of a private villa and holiday parks, which - as conveniently located south of Catania - is also considered as premium residential area. The south-facing house has a kitchen, a living room, two bedrooms (with double bed or tw...

Stylish apartment right on the sand beach, 180 ° panoramic sea view!

Often accommodations in Southern Italy, situated right on the sandy beach, rather equipped with a simpler equipment for the typical summer vacation. Not so the Casa Tirella! This has recently been completely renovated and is distinguished by its m...

Comfortable, spacious villa only 500 meters from the sea and beach. Mediterranean Garden

Location and special: Culture, nature and the sea - a holiday in Scopello has a lot to offer! During your stay in the beautiful Villa Mimma You are not only a stone's throw from the sea, but also close to impressive structures of the various cultu...
italyFrance Valle d'Aosta Piedmont Lombardia Lombardy Emilia Romagna Switzerland Trentino Alto Adige Austria Veneto-Venice Friuli Venezia Giulia Slovenia Slovenia Croatia Tuscany Marche Umbria Lazio Sardinia Abruzzo Molise Puglia Campania Basilicata Calabria Sicily Europe Stati Uniti World

 


Search for holiday rentals
Search for holiday ideas
 

Special offers and late deals

Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox


Related Articles



Other Categories



Popular Articles