Messina - Sicily
Messina lies on the far northeastern side of Sicily, on the lower slopes of the Peloritani Mountains. As it is only five kilometers from the mainland, it is a common port for ferries and a frequent stop on Mediterranean trade routes. Though Messina was battered with bombing raids in 1943 and several earthquakes during its history, it is still a beautiful city with much cultural and artistic heritage.
An ancient Sicilian colony, Messina was first called Zankle, or sickle, because the shape of its port resembles the arch of a sickle. According to the Odissey, the strait in Messina was guarded by Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla was said to have 12 feet and six heads and live under a cliff on the Calabrian side. Legend has it that she flung herself at Ulysses' ship and killed six of his sailors. On the Sicilian side, Charbydis lived under a rock and drank the sea water, spitting it up three times per day.
The main boulevard across the city is Via Garibaldi, characterized by early-20th century buildings and by the Santa Maria degli Alemanni Church. The church dates to the 13th century and was seriously damaged by the earthquakes of both 1783 and 1908. A full restoration of the church, however, began only after World War II, so it has no roof or façade. But its pointed arches and columns convey the original Gothic style.
The Duomo, which was almost entirely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1908, is a Norman-style cathedral with a façade featuring one-light windows and a small rose window at the center. Make sure you visit the Piazza del Duomo at noon to see the world's largest astronomical clock (orologio astronomico) come to life with its mechanical figures and music. It has a 60-foot bell-tower and dates back to 1933 when it was built in Strasbourg. The Fontana di Orione at the center of the square is also an elegant sight in its pre-Baroque style. In addition, Messina boasts a nationally renowned university, botanical gardens, a thriving institute of marine biology and the Museo Regionale with paintings by Caravaggio and Antonello da Messina
Take the ferry from the mainland into Messina's port.