Messina is the third largest city in the region of Sicily in Italy. The city is mainly an agricultural center and a busy port, which is a focal point for the ferries travelling to various other destinations along the coast. The important international fair in Sicily is held here every year and beneath the urban façade of the city lies a culturally and historically important town that has had its share of ups and down through the centuries and has now been able to resurrect itself and become an important tourist destination as well as an important economic hub in Sicily.
Getting to Messina
Messina is quite well connected to the rest of Sicily and reaching here is quite easy through buses, trains or ferries. Trains run regularly from the other major cities in Sicily to Messina as well as from Rome and Naples. Buses are also an easy and fast way to reach Messina, almost all the bigger and smaller towns in Sicily have buses running to and from Messina. From the closer coastal town regular ferries are also available to Messina a few times every day, ferries are quite inexpensive and reliable way of travelling.
Moving Around the City
Moving around Messina is quite easy and stress free since it is a compact city. Most places can be visited on foot and the streets are all pedestrian friendly and picturesque so it can be quite enjoyable to visit all the major destinations in the city on foot. Other than that Messina is quite well covered by the public buses which run regularly through the city. There are various bus stops and offices from where tickets can be purchased well in advance. Maps and information on bus routes can be got from these bus offices.
Attractions in Messina
The Norman cathedral in Messina is one of the most beautiful churches in Sicily. The cathedral was first built in the 12th century and has been destroyed several times, first due to a fire in 1254 and then twice because of earthquakes and the last time it got destroyed in bombings. Despite its share of tragedies the cathedral has been restored to its original beauty in the past years.
Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani
This 12th Century building is a marvel of architecture with elements from the Arab as well as the Norman style of architecture. There is a statue in front of this monument which is dedicated to Don John of Austria and is a major landmark in the city.
Fontana di Orione
The fountain is made from pale marble and depicts the founder of Messina. The fountain is quite beautiful with its attention to details and its artwork and it also has a lot of historic importance.
The regional museum is one of the best museums in Sicily and a must visit for all tourists. The museum showcases art works of some of the best local artists and although the museum is small and somewhat shabby, but the art work is all marvelous.
Piazza del Duomo
The Piazza is a vibrant and a lively place in Messina, it is where the tourists and locals sit and relax in the afternoons and watch people passing by. The Piazza is also home to the largest astronomical clock in Europe which was built in Strasbourg.
Fontana del Nettuno
The Fontana Del Nettuno is the best fountains in Messina, this 16th century fountain was built by Montorsoli, the figures that are depicted in the fountain are actually just a copy of the original artwork which is kept in the museum.
Piazalle batteria Masotto
Piazalle Batteria Masotto is located just opposite Fontana Del Nettuno. This is the best place to enjoy beautiful views of the harbor and the city, and the best place in town to enjoy a sunset at peace.
Piazza Del Duomo's treasury has several priceless treasures collected over the centuries like the Golden Mantel and the picture of the Madonna of the Letter are still preserved and kept here in the treasury, which is open to visitors who want to have a look at them.
Stay and Accommodation
Messina has plenty of options for accommodation. Most hotels are located near the railway station which is quite a convenient location since the railway station as well the major attractions in the city are all located close to it. There are a few high end hotels in Messina that offer luxury and excellent service levels to tourists. Other than these, there are several smaller family run hotels that are not very expensive but offer charming comfortable rooms and simple Italian food. There are also plenty of dorms and hostels as well as Bed & Breakfasts throughout the city which is perfect for the budget conscious travelers.
Eating Out in Messina
Like most places in Italy, Messina has a lot of options in terms of good food and drinks. The city has plenty of restaurants and bars and cafes that serve a variety of cuisines in several different atmospheres. The restaurants of the high end hotels generally have a higher range of choices in terms of cuisines; however, they can be a little costly. Some of the smaller family run restaurants serve simple regional dishes in a friendly informal environment. There are also a lot of cafes that serve good snacks and coffees both indoors as well as outdoors.
Shopping in Messina
Messina has a few options in terms of shopping. There are a few shopping malls and modern complexes that sell everything under the sun, branded or otherwise. Although these are quite convenient, if you really want to get a taste of real Sicily, you must visit the local markets in the old quarter of the city. These ancient markets are bustling with people at all times of the day and remain quite crowded. The shops are quite small but they sell some of the best locally made artifacts and handicrafts as well as some unique items.