A first church on this site dates back to the 16th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, the idea of building a new, larger church, appeared. The new church, with a single nave, a large sacristy and a side chapel, was completed in 1635.
During the terrible earthquake of Val di Noto of 1693, the church was badly damaged. The chapel, the sacristy and the adjacent Chapel of Jesus and Mary collapsed.
The reconstruction began in 1740, on a design by Pietro Paolo Vasta. In 1765, the facade was completed by Paolo Guarrera. In 1790, under the direction of Francesco Di Paola Patanè, the interior was renovated, replacing the wooden roof with a stone masonry vault.
The church was transformed into a collegiate church in 1924, and was elevated to the rank of a minor pontifical basilica in 1933, by Pope Pius XI.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church has an elegant facade in white stone from Syracuse, characterized by the superimposition of two rows of columns, with Corinthian capitals on the ground floor, and Doric capitals on the second. On the right of the facade, stands the bell tower built in 1735.
The interior of the church has a single nave with Ionic columns on the lateral walls, surmounted by Corinthian capitals. The interior, damaged by the earthquake of 1693, owes its current appearance to the Neoclassical project by Francesco di Paola Patanè.
Inside the church, there are interesting works of art, such as Saints Alfio, Cirino, and Filadelfio and Sant Antonio Abate by Giacinto Platania, Charles Borrromeo before Virgin Mary and Child with Saints Lucy, Rosalia, and Barbara by Matteo Ragonisi, Virgin Mary and Child with Saints Agatha, Margherita d’Antiochia, Simone, and Giuda by Alessandro Vasta, and Ecstasy of Sant’Andrea Avellino by Pietro Paolo Vasta.
HOW TO GET THERE
Basilica of Santi Pietro e Paolo is located about 2.1 kilometers away from the Acireale railway station. The closest bus stop is right in front of the church, in Piazza del Duomo, on the bus Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4.
However, the buses have a very low frequency in Acireale, it’s difficult to find the timetables and often there are delays and sudden cancellations of journeys, so the best solution to get to the railway station is a taxi.