...visit the beautiful...
...visit the beautiful city of Taormina. It is a beautiful mountain town from which there are beautiful vistas of the sea as well as
Mt. Etna. The ancient Roman Theatre is also a wonderful site to see while there All four of my grandparents were born in the Messina Province so it is a special place for me. Visiting the family homesteads
and relatives in the towns of Montalbano Elicona and S. Pier Niceto was especially meaningful to me.
The typical tourrist with no family ties to the area will be awed by the history of the area. One can see vestiges of
the many cultures that ruled the area over the centuries...Greek, Arab, Spanish etc.
If one is particularly adventursome visiting some of the hillside towns is like a trip back in time. For example
my grandfather's birthplace... Montalbano Elicona...about 60 kilometers from Messina proper, is a medieval town
with a restored castle of Frederick II. Strolling the town piazza during the afternoon 'passagiata' is also a treat.
Buy a gelato at one of the local sidewalk cafes and watch the townsfolk commune and enjoy a typical
Sicilian afternoon. My two sisters, our parents (aged 77 and 82) and I visited there in 1995 and did just that. The friendly
people stopped and inquired, as best they could, who we were related to in town. Apparently it is an honor to
have visitors from America.
Sicily is still a very rural island. Many people live in very simple conditions and are happy anyway.
I met during my trip this very nice old guy 'Placido'. I asked if I could take a picture of him and he answered:
'Well, what do you want to take a picture of me, my hair is all white!'
I answered: 'That doesn't matter, you look so wonderful and original'
He was really flattered and posed for me and well, I guess he go a little bit in love with me... he followed me with his eyes all the time during the village happening and smiled all the time.
People are very open if you approach them the right way and as soon as you speak some italian words (I speak italian) they open even more.
Don't be afraid, but please respect their way of living.
On the same coast, North of Messina, not too far from the city is the Ganzirri lake.
It is of marine origine, formed by sand, as is the Faro lake. It has an elongated form and its surface is 338.400 square meters with a depth of 6.50 meters.
The narrow part of the lake is near the mountain side where a natural source of mineral water can be found. Gas bubbing can be seen as well. The locals tell about a phenomenon in which rain can be predicted by an increase or decrease in the gasses. It is an almost closed off lake, it periodically connect to the sea by means of two canals.
A third canal connect it to the lake Faro.
Its unique enviroment aids in the proliferation of crostaceans. Mussels and clans are cultiveted in this lake.
Near the Cape Peloro lies lake Faro which is smaller and rounder than the Ganzirri. The higher volume of water is due to its depth which is about 28 meters deep and is in comunication with the sea by means of two canals. The fauna is richer and more diverse than the Ganzirri lake; anchovies, branzini, eels, saraghi, spigole, orate, cefali may be found there.
Both lakes, however offer the tourist extraordinary beauty and especially in summer, offer a calm and tranquil haven.
A Greek Beauty Stretches Its Hand to the Peninsula
"An Unfair Reputation"
I was unsure whether I should stay the night in Messina because of my guidebook. It described Messina as a dangerous city, particularly near the waterfront where muggings and violent robberies were apparently common. In truth, I found Messina to be a quiet and peaseful town that had much more to offer than the guidebook let on. Besides, the waterfront is generally dangerous in any city you visit. Messina turned out to be a large and modern city with plenty to see and do and with very, very few tourists (all probably scared off by their guidebook warnings). The heat was intense, but a nice breeze blowing in from the sea provided much needed relief from the strong Sicilian sun.
"Mountains and Sea"
Perhaps the greatest asset of Messina is its geographical location. One would expect that a city on the sea, particularly one that is the transit point for all traffic going to and from the mainland, would be entirely absorbed by the Straits that bear its name. Not true of this city. Messina's architects appear to have divided their time between the sea, on which you will find the Cathedral and numerous churches, and the surrounding hills and mountains, where there is no shortage of monastic institutes and noble buildings to delight most tourists.
"Diversity swept away"
Messina stuck in my mind for more than just its bad reputation in the guidebook. It was the last bastion of Sicily's ancient Greek-speaking minority. Southern Italy, particularly the southern coast, was first colonized by Greeks who called the region Magna Graecia. When the Romans reached Sicily and the Mezzogiorno, the Greeks were the only people not to be Latinized. Their ancient and respected culture was long regarded by the Romans as equal to their own and thus it was allowed to continue. To this day there are still Greek-speaking communities across the Strait of Messina in Calaria (Aspromonte). The Greek community of Messina died out in the 19th century, but they at least outlived the other minority communities. Messina was once home to thriving Arab Muslim and Jewish communities. These were expelled by the Castilian authorities who, in 1492, order to expulsion of all non-Catholics from their territories, which included the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
davidcross's new Messina and NE Sicily Page
Not really about Messina at all - although it is a good place for a few hours - but about Milazzo and the Aeolian islands. Have only alighted at Lipari but that was fabulous and would like to see more of them.
I HAVE STARTED A TRAVELOGUE ON MY PALERMO PAGE WHICH WILL GIVE MORE INFORMATION ON SICILY.