How lucky was I!
I was walking the streets of Messina, when I noticed this ornate, colorful style of horse drawn cart heading towards me. Quickly, I whipped my camera out of its bag, and managed the two photo's I have. I never expected to see one in the city, I thought they would be out in the country more!
The carts were introduced to the island by the ancient Greeks and became very popular, right up until the 1920's, when there were thousands on the Island. Since then, popularity has dwindled, with a small car taken over!
Horses were mostly used in the city and flat plains, while donkeys or mules were more often used in rough terrain for hauling heavy loads.
The Cart is two wheeled and handmade out of wood, and is used for loads of produce, wood, wine, and people. Named "Carretto del Lavoro" (cart for work,) they are used for festive occasions such as weddings and parades called "Carretto de Gara'.
The craft of making the carts is handed down from generation to generation.
I couldn't get a good look at the Cart I saw, but it did have brightly painted scenes, probably of Sicilian history and folklore. Maybe not now, but these scenes also served the purpose of conveying historical information to those who were illiterate.
I found it very pretty, and I loved the way the Horse was adorned in colourful attire!
I did see souvenir's of these for sale in Messina, and I do believe there is a Museum in Palermo on carts, not here.
All the sicilian ice shops that respect themselves are able to offer you their most typical summer products, in one, 100, 1000 different tastes! From the classical and inevitable lemon one, to that of almond and coffee, the strawberries granita, of kiwi or mint, to finish with the granulate perfume of the jasmine or roses. In summer, with the coolness of the morning, it usually replaces breakfast, with brioches or biscuits.
Fondest memory: My favourite in absolute is the one with coffee topped with whipped cream, every cafe` in Messina makes it so special but if you happen to be in the city centre I recommend you ``Santoro`` on the right side of the main square Piazza Cairoli
The word or term Trinacria means "triangle" as for the shape of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean. The Greeks called it Trinakrias, the Romans called it Trinacrium, meaning "star with 3 points". Today its known as Sicily, or Sicilia in Italian.
Below is a mosaic of the trinicria which dates back to the 3rd century BC. The photo appears in the book TRINAKIE Breve storia semiseria della Sicilia by Nino Cirnigliaro with photos by Ciccio Gurrieri, Utopia Edizioni, 1994, Ragusa. The Greeks circumnavigated the island and noted the three capes, Peloro, Passero, and Lilibeo, forming three points of a triangle in the northeast, the southeast, and the west. "Taken by its beauty they likened its shores to the legs of a woman" and represented the island with the TRINAKIE. The Sicilian Banner recently adopted by the autonomous region of Sicily has the Trinacria in its center on a shield of yellow gold and red-orange. The head in the center was that of Medusa, whose hair was turned into snakes by the outraged goddess Athene. In their wisdom, the Sicilian parliament replaced the Medusa head with one that is less threatening to the innocent onlooker who, after all, should not be anticipating being turned to stone.
The Sicilians are very superstitious people, almost more than being devout Roman Catholics:
When entering someone's home, always leave through the same door you can in from, otherwise its bad luck
Never put a new pair of shoes on the kitchen table
Put brand new shiny coins on the window sill before midnight on New Year's Eve for good luck, place them heads up!
Bury a mini plastic statuette of St. Joseph upside down on the front lawn if you want your house to sell
Never give pearls as a present, they are to be inherited only
The 'horns' is kind of similar to "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you", so if you wish someone harm who wears this pagan jewelry symbol, it will return to you to haunt you
When in dire need of prayers for the sick, dead or dying, go to church and light a candle
Very famous and nice, sang in siciliand dialect.
Ciuri stands for the italian Fiore = flower
Ironic and funny (= donkey)
Vitti na crozza
The most famous sicilian song
Here is the link to listen :
Santa maria Annunziata dei Catalani
I tryed to visit this church but found a building which was all packed-up for restauration I suppose!
Therefore, the picture is a courtesy of arsnet/Italy.
This church is one of the most precious treasures of Messina. Built in the second half of the twelfth century
It is a very elegant example of successful blending of styles - Bizantine, Romanesque, Arab and Norman.
.... lies on the north-east coast of Sicily on the Strait of the same name separating the island from the mainland. It is also called 'Ancient Zancle' for the sickle shape of its harbor.
The church at the back is - Cristo Re - inaugurated in 1937.
Regional communications are still unsatisfactory, though the construction of new roads and highways has partially eased the situation. Links with mainland Italy maintained by sea (Palermo, Messina and Catania) and air (Palermo-Punta Raisi, Catania-Fontanarossa and Trapani-Birgi airports); construction of the bridge over the Strait of Messina is a future project, planned for execution by the end of the century.
Get out to the Aeolian islands - one of the GREAT things to do in Europe. If, like me, you can only manage a short time use an aliscafo and go to Lipari for whatever time is available. Better though to spend some days and read up in advance. I hope to do this some day.
Fondest memory: Possibly looking down from the plane onto Stromboli puffing away.
Sicily is the biggest island of Italy. Around Sicily you will find a few minor islands such as:
The lipari islands (Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicudi, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli) on the est side Pantelleria and on the south The Pelagie islands (Lampedusa, Lampione, Linosa).
Sicily is surrounded by 3 different Seas (The MEDITERRANEAN SEA on the south, The MAR TIRRENO on the north and the MAR IONIO on the east.
Sicily is an independent region of Italy and has 9 provinces: Palermo (capital) Agrigento, Caltanisetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani.
Sicily is separated from the rest of the country by the “STRETTO DI MESSINA”.
The island has mostly hills and mountains (Peloritani, Nebrodi, Madonie on the North and Erei on the East and IBLEI on the South).
Just above the ETNA (vulcano) you will find the big plain of Catania and the agricolture is the main important issue on the island: olive trees, oranges and lemons, fishing, ceramics.
The statue in golden bronze of The Mother Protectress of Messina has been erected on a coloumn 60 metres high on the ancient donjon which now is used by the Navy. On the walls of the donjon it has been written (duly covering the loopholes of the cannons): “VOS ET IPSAM CIVITATEM BENEDICIMUS”(I bless you and all your town): this is a sentence taken form the text of the “Holy Letter” that, following the sacred tradition of this town, the Mother gave to embassy of citizens who, leaded by St.Paul, went to adore and pray the Mother.
...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
Fondest memory: 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.