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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Messina, Sicily ~ Italy

Founded by the Greeks in the 8th Century BC, Sicily was an important cultural center until its fertile plains became the “bread basket” of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, many peoples—the Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spanish, and French—occupied Sicily until 1861 when it became part of Italy.

As the result of a major earthquake in 1908 and repeated bombing during World War II, Messina is basically a 20th Century city with few intact monuments.

Diversions

Taxis are generally available at the pier and fares should be negotiated before setting out. The train station is a mile from the pier and there is regular service to the Taormina; however, the Taormina station is at the bottom of a hill and a bus or taxi is needed to reach the town.

Within walking distance of the pier is Messina’s Cathedral. Largely destroyed in the 1908 earthquake, it has been rebuilt along the original 11th Century lines and displays typical Norman architecture with rich ornamentation. The Cathedral’s Bell Tower houses an unusual astronomical clock that moves through a 15-minute cycle of evangelical scenes at mid-day. Only two blocks away, the Annunziata dei Catalani Church is an original Crusader’s church of 12th Century Norman construction. Richard the Lionhearted reportedly used it.

The Museo Regionale is a lovely little museum housing many treasures from buildings no longer standing. Messina’s attractions are generally closed from about 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon.

The popular resort town of Taormina is one of the main reasons for a port call in Messina. Only 35 miles away, its medieval appearance belies its Greek and Roman history. Stroll through the cobblestone streets to Palazzo Corvaia with its classic double windows and the fortress-like duomo that dates to the 13th Century. The most splendid of Taormina’s ancient relics is the 3rd Century Greek Theater. Known for it’s unique acoustics, it is still used for concerts with a breathtaking view of Mount Etna in the distance.

Perched on a cliff above the sea, Tindari is best known for its sanctuary dedicated to the Black Madonna. Founded by the Greeks on a strategically important area of the coast, aside from the city walls, the ruins remaining are mostly Roman, including the basilica, theater, and homes. Artifacts from the site are displayed in an antiquarium.

Shopping

The main shopping area of Messina is a short distance from the pier along Via Garibaldi, Piazza Cairoli, and Viale San Martino. Taormina visitors will find Corso Umberto is the street to shop. The most prized handicraft items include ceramics, embroidery, wrought-iron work, and jewelry, particularly that incorporating coral and obsidian. It’s generally agreed the best selection of ceramics is found in Taormina.

Beaches

Head for Taormina’s hotel district and the wide sandy beaches located below them.


Back to Mediterranean Ports of Call


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