Aci Castello, the Normans and Polyphemus

Just to the North of Catania, you can find a small, but very pleasant town called Acireale. Its highlight is a fine Norman castle, on an island for around the first century of its life, but then connected to the mainland by a lava flow:


The rock you can see in the distance to the right of the castle is part of a small chain of rocks, said to be the large crags that Polyphemus threw at Odysseus as he escaped. The name Aci Castello comes from joining Castello to the river Aci (there is also an Aci Trezza and an Acireale). This river is said to be what remains of Acis, the boyfriend, so Ovid tells it, of the Galatea whom Polyphemus fell in love with, much to her horror. He relieved his disappointment by killing her lover, who then turned into this river. Galatea’s name remains in one of the metro stations in Catania.

Our resident director, Alan, took a party of students there last weekend, after they had, to the bafflement of all who saw them, picked up the trash on the ply-wood beach…

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