The legend tells of Polyphemus, cyclops who lived in the volcano, irretrievably in love with the young Galatea. The beautiful nymph was one of the fifty nymphs of the sea, the Nereids, daughters of the marine deities Doris and Nereus.
Aci was a beautiful shepherd boy, son of Faunus, who grazed his sheep near the sea, when one day he saw Galatea and fell madly in love; love was obviously reciprocated by the nymph. Aci and Galatea were very in love and the advances of Polyphemus to the nymph proved useless.
One evening, in the moonlight, the cyclops saw the two lovers on the seashore kissing each other. Blinded by jealousy, he decided to take revenge. As soon as Galatea dived into the sea, Polyphemus took a large mass of lava and threw it at the poor little shepherd and crushed it. As soon as Galatea heard of the terrible news, she immediately noticed and cried all her tears on the tortured body of Aci. Jupiter and the gods took pity and turned the blood of the shepherd into a small river that rises from Etna and flows into the stretch of beach where the two lovers met.
The small river was called by the ancient Greeks “Akis” and, in Capo Molini (not far from the sea) there is a small spring called “u sangu di Jaci”, due to its reddish color. Thus the river gave its name to the nine cities; Aci Castello, whose name derives from the Norman castle, built on a promontory of volcanic rock overlooking the sea, now home to the civic museum. Aci Trezza, a small and charming fishing village where the cliffs of the Cyclops emerge from its clear waters, the memories of the latter’s ire and the island of Lachea. But Aci Trezza is famous above all for the book by Giovanni Verga, “I Malavoglia”, and it is here that Luchino Visconti shot his film “La terra trema”, inspired by the Sicilian writer’s book.