Messina Mini Guide
Messina in a Nutshell
Messina is the 3rd largest city in Sicily. It is located on the north east corner of the island and is opposite the town of Villa San Giovanni on the mainland of Italy
. Messina is often featured on cruise ship itineraries.
How Would I get There?
There are regular ferries and hydrofoils across to the mainland, if you wish to get there from Italy. You can also use the long distance coach or rail services from Italy. If you are travelling from further afield Catania Airport
is nearest to Messina. Within the city you can use the light rail system or the hop on/hop off bus to get around.
What can I see and do There?
The 12th century cathedral dominates the city and is a major tourist attraction. It was originally of Norman origin and has gothic style but was rebuilt three times, mostly recently in 1943 after the allied bombings. Inside you can find the tomb of King Conrad dating from 13th century and there are many sculptures and some mosaics. The bell tower has one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world and the belfry has mechanical statues illustrating events in the history of the city. This happens at noon every day and is popular with tourists. The Fountain of Orion is next to the cathedral and was built in 1547. The Regional Museum has works by Carvaggio and Antonello da Messina.
What’s the Food Like?
Find a nice little pasticceria and try the local favourite of Cannoli – these are pastry tubes filled with ricotta and cream. For lunch, head for Pizza Capitano and enjoy one of their pizzas cooked in a wood oven. If it is a special occasion, go to Momento Ristorante. They have beautifully presented meals with an international style but a touch of Sicilian, try the pumpkin risotto with roast red pepper and almonds or rabbit caponata.
Where can I Stay?
The NH Royal Palace is in the centre of Messina and has 102 rooms with panoramic views of the city. It is close to shops and bars and near to the seafront. You can have dinner at the hotel’s La Scrigno Restaurant which specialises in Sicilian cuisine.
Outside the City
Visit Taormina a medieval mountain village with lots of charm. Mount Etna is also just a short drive away.
Are There any Festivals?
On the 13th and 14th of August, the ‘Ride of the Giants’ takes place in Messina - two statues (one black and one white) are paraded on horseback through the city. The following day is a feast day.
Messina is the closest city to the mainland and is one of the major points of entry by ferry. The city has some unusual attractions including ‘The Pylon’ which is a disused electricity pylon now with an observation platform accessible via 1250 steps that gives sweeping views across the Strait of Messina and Sicily itself.
Hiring a car will also get you to the city’s cathedral where the tower holds the world’s largest astronomical clock, built in 1933. Outside the bell tower, animated figures re-enact scenes from Messina’s history on the hour and are a major attraction in the city.