MessinaMessina (, Sicilian: Missina, Greek: Μεσσήνη/Μεσσήνα) is a port in the northeast corner of Sicily. Most visitors are passing through, on the 5-km ferry-crossing to mainland Italy. Although it dates to ancient times, Messina is modern and nondescript. Older buildings were mostly destroyed by the great earthquake and tsunami of 28 Dec 1908, then Allied bombing in World War II finished what was left. Nevertheless it has enough sights to justify spending a day. One modern claim to fame is that in June 1955, Messina hosted the conference that set up the European Community and common market, later the European Union.
The Tourist Information Centre is just outside the railway station. Open M-F 09:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00 (M W to 18:30).
Most travellers arrive from mainland Italy on the 20-minute shuttle from Villa San Giovanni. These ferries sail frequently round the clock, and as they're considered an extension of the road network to Sicily, fares are subsidised. There are also 30-min sailings from Reggio di Calabria.
Some of these ferries arrive in Messina's main port, a short walk from the railway and bus stations. But others land at the northern terminal 4 km north: if you're on foot you'll need to take the tram or local bus to reach the centre, see "Get around".
BluferriesHydrofoils (take cars) hourly from VSG to Messina Porto Storico.
Liberty LinesFast cats from Reggio Calabria to downtown port, no vehicles.
Caronte & TouristVSG to Messina only with car.
Meridiano LinesFerries Messina downtown - Reggio Calabria (Every 2 hours 24/7, taking 40 min).
Occasional cruise ships call on splurgy cruises of the Med, with customers landing at Messina in order to be bussed to Taormino, Agrimento and Etna. They're not available to book as point-to-point ferries.
By planeThe closest airports to Messina are:
- Reggio di Calabria (REG) across the straits on the mainland
- Catania Fontanarossa (CTA) south
- Palermo (PMO) west
Catania and Palermo have flights to the major European cities.
By trainMessina 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.
address: Piazza della RepubblicaFor left luggage, use SAIS office outside.
By busLong-distance buses stop in Messina, linking Rome and Naples to Catania and Palermo (Sais Autolinee). Regional buses also run to Taormina (by Interbus), and Milazzo (by Giuntabus) for the Aeolian Islands.
Bus stationaddress: Piazza della RepubblicaInter-city buses run from the Piazza here. Several ticket offices (SAIS has left luggage office) and fast-food places. Local buses swing by the Piazza but their hub is one block inland, under the multi-storey car park.
The bus & tram company is
There is not too much of historical architecture remains in the city due to earthquakes (esp. in 1908) and World War II bombing. Still there are enough things to see there to make a good walk. Places around the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Montalto and Cristo Re offer beautiful panoramic views over the harbour and the Strait of Messina (see the banner).
Madonna della LetteraThe Madonna of the Letter is venerated by the Catholic Church as a saint patron of Messina. A towering gilded statue of the Madonna della Lettera is located atop of the tall Forte San Salvatore tower at the tip of the sickle in the sickle-shaped harbour. The inscription "We bless you and your City" is taken from a letter from Mary in 42 AD.
Duomo di Messinaaddress: Piazza del DuomoA Gothic cathedral which dates to the 12th century. The cathedral suffered serious damage in the 1908 earthquake and was restored between 1919 and 1920. During the Second World War, Allied bombings destroyed part of the Cathedral, which was rebuilt in 1943. It is consecrated to the “ Virgin of the Letter”, The Patronnes of the Town.
address: Piazza del DuomoThe Duomo's bell tower has one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world, built in 1933 by the Ungerer Company of Strasbourg. A must-see for visitors with an amazing clock show, including symbolical and allegorical moving metal animals and statues, every day at 12:00.
address: Piazza del DuomoWork of Montorsoli (1547), a student of Michelangelo. Orion, with his dog Sirius, is portrayed as one of the legendary founders of Messina.
Palazzo Calapaj-d'AlcontresAn 18th-century building, perhaps of a relatively modest exterior, but it's one of a few ones survived the earthquake of 1908.
Chiesa dei CatalaniOne of a few survivors of the earthquake in 1908. Its origin dates to the 12th century in later Norman style with Arabic-influenced elements.
Quattro FontaneTwo smaller fountains survived out of four built between 1666 and 1742.
ex Chiesa di Santa Maria AlemannaThis former church built early 13th century is a rare example of a Gothic style in the city. The church was badly damaged in 1908 and was open back to the public in 2001. It hosts various exhibitions.
Chiesa del CarmineA church with 7 chapels decorated inside with polychrome marble. It also known for its Tamburini Organ renown for its complex rich sounds (installed in 1950s).
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele IIIAn eclectic building constructed between 1924 and 1929 in Liberty style. Inside it consists of 3 passages converging into a hexagonal centre covered by a glass dome. It's somewhat similar to other galleria s across Italy.
Palazzo del Monte di PietàThe current building is essentially a ground floor of the former palazzo which was severely damaged by earthquakes and World War II bombing.
Santuario della Madonna di MontaltoSanctuary is a building made in an eclectic style with Gothic and Romanesque elements, located high above the Piazza del Duomo. From its lookout point, with a statue of the Pope admiring the view, you can enjoy a panorama of the Messina harbour and the Strait of Messina.
Sacrario di Cristo ReBuilt at the remains of the medieval castle of Matagrifone, Christ the King is a majestic domed memorial chapel, located on a hilltop north of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Montalto. also with a beautiful panoramic view of the harbour and strait. Built in 1937, it serves as a burial chamber in honour of some fellow citizens who died in Africa as soldiers in the Second World War.
Chiesa di MontevergineThe church hosts remains of the Catholic saint Eustochia Smeralda Calafato.
phone: +39 090 391940address: Piazza XX Settembre
address: Via G. Garibaldi
Pilone di Torre FaroIt's one of two Piloni dello Stretto, decommissioned electricity pylons across Messina Strait. They were built in 1957 to support 220kV power line over the Strait of Messina. It is a 224 metres tall steel lattice tower, which is today an observation tower with an observation platform 200 metres high. Unfortunately you have to walk 1250 steps up and down, but the great view on the huge structure and the good view over Messina Strait is surely worth it! And while you're in Torre Faro, might as well visit the nearby active Capo Peloro lighthouse.
- Lakes of Ganzirri and Faro, at the Capo Peloro Lighthouse area north of the city, in the north-eastern tip of Sicily. You can reach the two lakes by taking bus number 79 from ATM bus terminal (Parcheggio Cavallotti) close to the train station. At the lakes, the extraordinary marine landscapes are an awe-inspiring sight. It is also the site for the northern tower of the planned, twice-approved and twice-cancelled, Strait of Messina bridge (which locals hope will never be built) and the decommissioned Pylon of Torre Faro (see below). Moreover, the lakes are the right place to have very good fish, seafood, and many other Sicilian specialties.
phone: +39 090 673 076address: Via Santa Cecilia, 184Med cuisine.
Pizza Napoletanaaddress: 42 Via CannizzaroCentral pizzeria.
Dockersphone: +39 366 488 6865address: 31 Via Vittorio EmanueleBar, grill & Irish pub.
Try along Via Cannizzaro near the port and railway station.
phone: +39 907 7631address: 115 Via 27 LuglioCharming, elegant, central four star hotel.
phone: +39 090 6503address: 3 Via T CannizzaroSmall very central hotel.
phone: +39 903 379 529address: Contrada Romeo, Villafranca TirrenaSmall 3-star hotel set in the hills looking north over Tyrrheian Sea.
phone: +39 941 301 100address: Contrada Licari, Goioiosa MareaFeatures 119 guest and family rooms with sea view towards the Aeolian Islands. Private beach. Facilities: A/C, infinity swimming pool, sea-view solarium, running centre, spa & wellness centre, banquet facilities, conference centre.
- Novara di Sicilia - Located in the province of Messina on the northern side of Mt. Etna, this picturesque medieval town is nestled in the mountains overlooking Milazzo. It is the archetype of a typical medieval town, with its friendly and accommodating people who speak a distinctive dialect.
- The main public transport routes are west to Milazzo and Palermo, south to Taormina, Catania and Syracuse, or east across the straits to mainland Italy.