Cruise Diva Goes
Ashore in Europe:
to see & things to do
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Head for Taormina’s hotel district and the wide
sandy beaches located below them.
Ports of Call