The Riviera of the Cyclops

A vacation guide to the Etna coast of eastern Sicily

The Ionian coast between Catania and Taormina is pricked with ancient sites, modern spas, medieval castles, and Homeric myths. Although the Greeks were the first to keep records of settling here, they weren't the first arrivals.

Local myths tell of the cave-dwelling Cyclopses, a race of horrible, man-eating, one-eyed giants. One of these brutish behemoths, named Polyphemus (a son of Zeus), got to play the villain twice in Greek mythology. When he murdered the young shepherd Acis, a river sprang from the spot where Acis died, giving the region (and half the towns around here) a name.

Later, when Homer's Odysseus and his intrepid crew paid a visit, Polyphemus trapped them in his cave. The Greek hero escaped by getting Polyphemus drunk, putting the Cyclops' one good eye out with a smoldering branch, then sneaking his men out tied to the bellies of the giant's sheep.

Aci Castello


Aci Trezza

The story of Odysseus' famous escape from the Cyclops as I related it above isn't quite complete. Once out of the cave back aboard his ship, Odysseus—in one of his occasional lapses in judgment—started taunting the Cyclops back on the mainland.

In a rage, Polyphemus broke off hilltops and flung them after the departing ship, nearly sinking our hero. Odysseus did escape, but the rocks the Cyclops threw remain, jutting out of the Ionian sea a scant few dozen meters offshore of this little fishing town called Aci Trezza.



Tips & links

Useful links & resources

Share this page

Intrepid Travel 25% off


Useful links

Train tix

Shortcuts to popular planning sections:

Airfares, Cars, Trains, Tours, Packages, Cruises, Lodging, Itineraries, Info, Packing, Prep, Comm

Follow ReidsItaly
Follow ReidsItaly on Twitter  Join the ReidsItaly fan page  Follow Reids Italy Adventures blog