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Chiazzette

 
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chiazzette

The ancient “Aci’s staircase”, important connection street for trade in the past, allows still today to comfortably reach, starting from Piazza Duomo in Acireale, the ancient maritime village of Santa Maria La Scala. From Piazza Duomo, take via Romeo (once via della marina) and reach the quarter of Suffragio and the homonymous church. Through a simple pedestrian subway, crossed with the SS114, you reach the entrance of the path.

Leonardo Vigo in his historic news about Acireale brings to the notice the building of “Aci’s staircase” as one of the most creative work strengthening the economic and civil progress of Acireale in ‘600.

The fortress of Tocco, placed at the beginning of the descent, shows the strategic importance of this line of communication. “Fortress seu Bastrione” rearing over Santa Maria La Scala (1592-1616), designed by the engineer Camillo Camillian, was built by the viceroy Francesco Lemos, count of Castro, to protect the city from the increasing Turkish incursions on the Ionic coast. The fortress was equipped with two small cannons and their shot (tap) was the alarm signal.

The path, seven sett paving or “laval flagged” flights each of them finishing with a small square (from this dialectal term derives the word chiazzette) with laval stone seats, offers rare beauty foreshortened views allowing the observation of the typical vegetation you can find in the Timpa. The laval successions of the crag, a sequence of five laval flows with different cracks and sometimes alternated to the loose tufaceous and sandy material, are particularly visible along this path, a real section on the most ancient part of Etna Volcano. The thickness of the laval flows you can see in this section of the crag is an average of 20 meters. If you observe close up these laval flows you can notice some beautiful pyroxene crystals with a dimension of 6-7mm. Along the path you come across a votive chapel dedicated to SS. the Crucified of Buona Nuova, unfortunately in a state of dereliction. The action of meteoric agents and the run-offs have produced local instabilities and landslides threatening the underlying built-up area of St. Maria La Scala.

After the seventh and last hairpin, take a path on the right with laval stone staircases that curls through a very green citrus fruit orchard. Until recently, once you reached the beach you could refresh, among the cane fields, to the very pure water-head Miuccio; now you cannot as water is collected. From this point you start visiting the picturesque maritime village of Santa Maria La Scala. In this northern part the coast, farther the Pietra Sarpa, is enriched by columnar basalts of an indescribable beauty created by the slow cooling of the lava, reducing breaks in prisms of remarkable dimensions.

You can go along the rising path backwards, taking advantage of a valid alternative to the final staircase: from the main square a straight path leads to the beginning of the seven flights.

Length g/r 2.5 km

Ramp: 130 m

Difficulty: high

Walking times: 2 hours

Refreshments: Fontanella after the first hairpin. A bar in the main square where you can taste the typical almond water-ice.

Geological peculiarities: Overlapping of ancient lavas.