Messina Italy is the third largest
city in Sicily and is found on
the northeastern side of the island. The city itself
is comprised of about 250,000 people, and totals about
500,000 people when you are talking about the metropolitan
area. Between the island of Sicily and mainland
Italy runs the Messina Straight, and it connects the Tyrrhenian
Sea in the west with the Ionian Sea in the east.
For such a shallow and narrow stretch of water, the Messina
Straight has always posed a problem for sailors with its
strong currents, which are known to rip seaweed off the
ocean floor. On either side of the straight, the
land is rugged, yet lush and Mt.
Etna rises up to pose in the natural beauty of the
area. Agriculture abounds in this region and Messina
Italy produces different fruits and vegetables and a variety
of wines. As a result of its location and bountiful
crops, Messina gains its prime source of commerce through
its port made of up of several shipyards and a military
presence. Although somewhat protected by the Messina
Straight, Messina Sicily has experienced its fair share
of tumult over its long history.
Messina Italy has seen its fair share of cultural influence with roots in Greek mythology. The Greeks conquered the city, and overall the entire island, in and around the mid 700"s B.C. When a sector of the Roman army deployed on the island in 264 B.C., it marked the first time in history that this great force had made its move outside of the mainland. Then, the city was known as Messana and had a famous lighthouse. However, when the Roman Empire fell, Messina would find itself being turned over again and again as the Goths moved in, followed by Byzantine dominance starting in 535 A.D. Arabs would find themselves controlling the city in the 800"s. Norman invasion would follow, but when the Spaniards arrived in the 17th century, Messina would arguably experience its most glorious period. The Spanish Bourbons would fight to keep their stronghold on the area as well. Finally, Italy would unite in 1861 reclaiming the city and the island of Sicily overall. Messina Sicily is often ill-reputed for being the area of entry for the plague, or the Black Death as it would be known, around 1347 A.D. Perhaps not a label of preference, yet deviously interesting.
Unfortunately, Messina Sicily would suffer at the hands of an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami on December 28th, 1908. Reports of between 60,000-80,000 people would lose their lives in this disaster, which almost ruined the entire city. Modernization in building would occur, yet be compromised with the allied bombardment of the city in 1943. Most tourists pass Messina on their way to other towns and sights, yet the city is worth a visit with its importance as a “gate to Sicily”, and many treasures from its fascinating history can be found at the National Museum of Messina. The Norman Cathedral, now mostly rebuilt, and the Church of Santa Maria Alemanna (Saint Mary of the Germans) retains part of its original Gothic splendor, one of the best examples of the architectural standard not widely found in Sicily.
Messina hotels seem to predominantly cater to commercial travelers, and overall, the prices run high. Budget options are few, but as you will likely stay for only one night here, it serves you well to enjoy views out to sea and the relative comfort many have to offer. Perhaps the best option in hotels Messina, for the traveler anyhow, is the Grand Hotel di Mortelle. Lido di Mortelle is a sub area of Messina Sicily and is known to have the best beaches on the northeast side of the island. These beaches are popular with locals and tourists in the summer, and access to them from the Grand Hotel di Mortelle is free.