The Baroque Town
Palazzolo Acreide is a baroque town in Val di Noto, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list from 2002.
Located in the heart of the Hyblaean Mountains, about 45 km from Syracuse, it is one of the must-see destinations to include in a tour of the south east of Sicily.
This town is also famous for its lively Carnival, the oldest in Sicily. It takes place in the central square with balls, food festivals and parades of carnival floats through the streets. During summer, in July and August, there are performances of tragedies and comedies by classical Latin and Greek authors at the Greek Theater and several events that liven up the nights in town.
When you visit a town in the south east of Sicily you can’t miss a sweet sin of gluttony by tasting the local specialties. In October the “Agrimontana” takes place in Palazzolo Acreide, a food festival where you can make tastings and know the local traditional cuisine.
The origins of Palazzolo Acreide date back to 664 BC, when the people from Syracuse founded the Greek colony of Akrai on the the hill Acremonte, between the valleys of the rivers Anapo and Tellaro.
Over the centuries, the town has seen the domination of several populations, among which there were Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. Today evidences of these populations being here can be found on the hill Acremonte, where the ancient town rose. In this archaeological area there is the Greek Theater of Akrai, dating back to the 2nd century BC, just next to the temple of Aphrodite. Other unique findings are the “Santoni”, a complex of statues forming a sanctuary dedicated to the worship of the goddess Cybele.
Like many other towns in southeastern Sicily, Palazzolo Acreide was devastated by the earthquake of 1693 and rebuilt in baroque style.
In the heart of its eighteenth-century old town there is the majestic Church of San Sebastiano, which overlooks the wide Piazza del Popolo that is entirely surrounded by baroque buildings.