Messina – Sicily

Strait that bears its name and from which numerous cruise ships pass through. The origins date back to 750 BC. when the Greek colonists coming from Chalcis founded it with the name of Zancle (from the Greek sickle for the arched shape of its port). It was not until the conquest of Sicily by the Romans that Messana was proclaimed free and an ally of Rome. Cicero defined it as a very large and very rich city. An important cultural and commercial center, Messina is the gateway for travelers heading to Sicily. You cannot miss a visit to the Cathedral of Norman origin, which houses the second largest organ in Italy, and the most complex and largest mechanical astronomical clock in the world. The seat of the university, founded in 1548 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, is also worth a stop. The province welcomes the beautiful Taormina, famous for its characteristic pedestrian streets, archaeological sites and breathtaking views. The natural terrace located on Mount Tauro, 206 meters above sea level, offers a unique view of the Mediterranean. The village is home to the Greek Theatre, the second largest theater in the entire region. Treat yourself to a few hours of relaxation on the beach overlooking Isola Bella, a charming islet that has become the very symbol of Taormina. If you are in the area, you cannot miss a visit to the villages of Novara di Sicilia, Tindari and Milazzo. The latter is also famous for the Piscina di Venere, a paradise for snorkelling lovers, from which you can easily reach Lipari, Vulcano or Stromboli.

Messina was originally founded by settlers and Chalcidesi in 757 BC (first Greek colony in Sicily) with the name of Zancle (from the Greek Ζὰγκλης, which takes up a Sicilian term meaning “sickle”, because the San Raineri peninsula, the natural port of the city , looks like a scythe). It took the name of Messene when Anassilao of Reggio, around 491 BC, conquered it against the Milesii, the Samii, and the army of Hippocrates of Gela, and repopulated it with, among others, elements from Messenia. The Romans conquered it in 264 BC and in 241 BC renamed it Messana, after the victory in the First Punic War and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire it was first in the possession of the Byzantines who renamed it Messina, by the Arabs who conquered it in the ‘843 AD. In 1061 it was conquered by the Normans, with the help of Ruggero d’Altavilla. Under the Swabian-Angevin-Aragonese dominions, Messina achieved great prosperity, becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily together with Palermo. The city, with its thriving port, was also linked to the Hanseatic League. In 1674 he rebelled against Spain, in the repression that followed the city lost all form of autonomy, including the senate. It was hit by a serious earthquake in 1783. It became part of the Kingdom of Italy after the expedition of the Mille garibaldina in 1860.
In 1908 it suffered the destruction of another terrible earthquake and again the bombings of the Second World War. A significant page of the friendship between the city and the Russian people is linked to the tragic: the 1908 earthquake. The first rescuers who arrived in Messina were the sailors of the Russian imperial fleet, which was in the port of Augusta for exercises. The Messina earthquake it is considered one of the most catastrophic events of the twentieth century.
Messina, gateway to Sicily, is a city to be experienced on foot. On a beautiful sunny day, with the coast of Calabria so close that we can almost touch it, we will be struck by this corner of land overlooking the sea that the Greeks called Zancle, “sickle”. And if you are wondering why this name is given, just take a look at its natural harbour.
In the historic area around the Duomo, between the inebriating scent of the sea and the passing of the typical horse carriages, expressions of the Belle Époque of Messina, is our starting point. Visit the superb Cathedral with the three late-Gothic portals and the large mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. Inside there is the grandiose polyphonic organ, among the largest in Europe, in perfect working order.