Historical Notes

Messina was originally called Zancle by the Greeks, because of the shape of its natural harbour. A comune of its Metropolitan City was located at the southern entrance of the Strait of Messina, today called ‘Scaletta Zanclea’. In the early 5th century BC, Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene in honour of the Greek city Messene. In 1783, an earthquake devastated much of the city, and it took decades to rebuild and rekindle the cultural life of Messina. One of the main figures of the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini, was elected deputy at Messina in the general elections of 1866. The city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and associated tsunami on the morning of 28 December 1908, killing about 100,000 people and destroying most of the ancient architecture. The city was largely rebuilt in the following year. In June 1955, Messina was the location of the Messina Conference of Western European foreign ministers which led to the creation of the European Economic Community. Messina has a subtropical mediterranean climate with long, hot summers with low diurnal temperature variation with consistent dry weather. In winter, Messina is rather wet and mild.

Today Messina is the third largest city in Sicily, it is really important for the tourism of the island and represents the “bridge” with the Italian peninsula.

As the whole Sicily it represents a well mix of all the countries and cultures that occupied the island as Greeks, Goths, Arabs, Normans and Spanish.


What to see

  • The Fountain of Orion, a monumental civic sculpture located next to the Cathedral, built in 1547 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, student of Michelangelo, with a Neoplatonic-alchemical program. It was considered by art historian Bernard Berenson “the most beautiful fountain of the sixteenth century in Europe”.
  • The Fountain of Neptune, looking towards the harbour, built by Montorsoli in 1557.
  • The Senatory Fountain, built in 1619.
  • The Four Fountains, though only two elements of the four-cornered complex survive today.
  • The Cathedral, dating from the Norman period, containing the remains of King Conrad, ruler of Germany and Sicily in the 13th century.
  • The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Carmelo (near the Courthouse), built in 1931.
  • The Sanctuary of Montevergine.
  • The Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani. Dating from the late Norman period, it was transformed in the 13th century when the nave was shortened and the façade added.
  • The Botanical Garden Pietro Castelli of the University of Messina.
  • The Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, a 16th-century fort in the Port of Messina.
  • The Forte Gonzaga, a 16th-century fort overlooking Messina.
  • The Porta Grazia a fortress still existing in the harbour.
  • The San Ranieri lighthouse.

Tours you can be interested in

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    Gianluca’s Phone +30/698 0225751



    Maltezou 39,
    Alimos 17455
    Santorini 84700

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