Gateway to Sicily


Situated in Sicily’s northeast corner, Messina is Sicily’s third largest city. It is the main gateway to the island, just fifteen minutes by ferry from Reggio Calabria on the mainland.

The strait between the mainland and island is steeped in mythology: its history of strong currents was believed by the Greeks to be caused by the interaction between the twin monsters of Charbydis (the whirlpool) and Scylla (the six headed monster).

The city has endured repeated disasters which have largely shaped its history. A plague in 1743, followed by an earthquake some 40 years later caused considerable suffering. In 1908, another earthquake (Europe’s most deadliest) and a subsequent tsunami, probably caused by a geological fault line beneath the sea, took a further toll on the city. In 1943, Messina underwent huge destruction in a WWII mass bombing which, together with the previous disasters, left the city devoid of some of the cultural treasures enjoyed by other Sicilian towns and cities.

As a result, people tend to pass through the city. For those with time to spare, there is an impressive centre with a Duomo. The 16th century Orione Fountain was completed by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, one of Michelangelo’s students. Other highlights include the Chiesa di Santissima Annunziata.

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