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Messina, with a population of about 270,000, is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, Italy and the capital of the province of Messina. It is located at 38°11’24 N, 15°33’0 E, near the North-East corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina. Inhabitants of Messina in Italian are referred to as Messinesi or poetically Peloritani.
Founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC, Messina was originally called Zancle (scythe) because of the shape of its natural harbour. In the early 5th century, Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene in honor of the Greek city Messene. The city was sacked in 396 BC by the Carthaginians, then reconquered by Dionysius I of Syracuse. At the end of the first Punic War it was a free city allied with Rome. In Roman times Messina, then known as Messana, had an important pharos (lighthouse). Messana was the base of Sextus Pompeius, during his war against Octavian. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was successively conquered by the Goths, followed by the Byzantine Empire in 535, the Arabs in 842, and in 1061 by the Norman brothers Robert Guiscard and Roger Guiscard (later Count Roger I of Sicily). Messina was most likely the harbor at which the Black Death entered Europe in the Middle Ages. The city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami on the morning of December 28, 1908, killing over 75,000 people and destroying most of the ancient architecture. In June 1955, Messina was the location of the conference of western European foreign ministers which led to the creation of the European Economic Community.
How to get there
There are several hourly ferries to Villa San Giovanni on the mainland and also several hydrofoils each day to Reggio di Calabria.
Messina is Sicily’s link to the main Italian train network. Long distance trains from Rome and Naples cross the Straits of Messina by ferry and continue on to Palermo and Catania. Regular regional trains also run to Milazzo, Cefalu, Taormina and Syracuse.
Long-distance buses stop in Messina, linking Rome and Naples to Catania and Palermo. Regular buses also run to Taormina and Milazzo (for the Aeolian Islands).
Sights & Activities
The 12th century Cathedral of Messina contains the remains of Conrad, king of Germany and Sicily in the 13th century. After the quake of 1908, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1919/1920; after a fire in 1943 it had to be rebuilt again.
The church of the “Annunziata dei Catalani” stands on one of the most historically important sites of the Straits. Nearby, there was once the Byzantine shipyard, guarded by the fortress of Castellamare. The church was built between 1150 and 1200 on the remains of a pagan temple dedicated to Neptune. It is an interesting example of how various architectural styles were added to a late Byzantine construction typical of those built by the Basilian Order of monks.
In 1957 a 220kV-overhead power-line was built across the Strait of Messina. At the time of its construction, its two pylons were the highest in the world. This power-line has since been replaced by an underwater cable, but the pylons still remain, protected as historical monuments.
The typical Messina breakfast, especially during the summer, is a glass of frozen coffee or strawberry “granita” topped with whipped cream and accompained by a soft brioche. At lunch, you can try “la pasta ‘ncaciata” (pasta, meat and melted cheese with boiled eggs). Alternatively, try swordfish or in the poorer but equally tasty version “la ghiotta di piscistoccu”, stockfish-fillets slowly baked in a rich sauce of tomatoes, potatoes, capers and herbs. Among the snacks: focaccia farcita (thin pizza crust with different ingredients on top), and arancini di riso (deep-fried rice balls filled with meat-sauce or butter).
Simple family-run establishment, reminiscent of the late 19th century, with period style furniture typical from the Strait.
Address: Via XXVII Luglio 38 – 98124 Messina
Tel.: (090) 293 48 65
Le Due Sorelle
This restaurant offers a quiet atmosphere, with a cosy dining room, wooden tables and a very respectable wine list.
Address: Piazza del Municipio 4 – I – 98122 Messina
Tel.: (090) 447 20
At Focacceria Famulari, a local favorite in Via Battisti Cesare 143, they sell focaccia farcita (flat pizza-dough baked with different fillings on the top), arancini di riso, torte salate (savory “cake”), fried ricotta cheese, and calzones.
Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Messina. July and August are the hottest months with temperature up to 104F. For more information, visit the Weather page.
- Aeolian Islands – The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, an ongoing volcanic phenomena. Lipari is the largest island of the Aeolian Islands (UNESCO World Heritage Site), off of the Northeast coast of Sicily in the Messina province. It boasts an Archeological Museum with a castle and an archeological park in the back. The oldest part of the castle was built by the Greeks.
- Tyndaris, founded by Dyonisus in 396BC, was one of the latest Greek colonies in Sicily. It was invaded by the Carthaginians led by Hannibal in 264BC and rebuilt by the Romans ten years later. The beauty of Tyndaris is still present in its ruins. The Greek-Roman theater with its spectacular setting over the Tyrrhenian Sea is used for shows and plays in the summertime.
- Taormina – Taormina is Sicily’s most renowned resort. Located in the province of Messina, it hosts a magnificent amphitheater with a breathtaking view of Mount Etna in the background. The theater, built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and remodeled by the Romans, is still used today and hosts the famous Taormina Film Festival. A much smaller Roman theater, the Odeon, is to be found near the Church of Santa Caterina.
- Castel di Tusa
- Capo d’Orlando
- Pace del Mela
Note: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “Metasyntactic variable” and Creative Commons by Commons Deed. This information was accurate when it was posted, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses/establishments in question before planning your trip.