Messina might not be the first destination you think of when cruising to Sicily, but this port city in the north-east of the island has plenty to offer. In fact, you’ll often find that some of the most interesting and picturesque tourist spots are devoid of crowds, enhancing the overall experience.
Here are some of the places to enjoy when your ship docks in Messina:
Discover Messina’s Beautiful Churches
One thing Messina has no shortage of is churches and there are religious buildings to pique all levels of interest. From the opulent Roman Catholic cathedral, complete with astronomical clock, to the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani church, which survived the 1908 earthquake intact, you can see a variety of architectural styles and renovations.
Soak Up The Culture At The Regional Museum
For an institution outside of a capital city, Messina’s Regional Museum punches well above its weight. The collection of paintings includes works by some of the greats, such as Caravaggio, but it’s not just the gallery that is worth seeing. Sculptures and an extensive archaeological section provide greater context to the location.
Worship The Sea At The Neptune Fountain
Messina has a surprisingly large number of fountains, with no fewer than five of them having been designed by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. The Neptune Fountain offers a wonderful sense of place, as it depicts the Roman god of the sea with Scylla and Charybdis. These two mythical monsters were said to inhabit the Strait of Messina and a popular idiom emerged that suggested that making a difficult choice was akin to being caught between them. The Neptune Fountain will be included in the city tour with MSC.
Gaze Upon The Neoclassical And Art Nouveau Monuments At Cimitero Monumentale
Cimitero Monumentale is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, with many of its monuments having been carved in incredible neoclassical and art nouveau styles. Despite feeling a little macabre, these tombstones and dedications to the dead were made to be seen, making it a wonderful place to explore. They are set within pretty gardens with wonderful views across Messina and the strait beyond.
Stroll The Viale Italia For Panoramic Views
An effective way to get an overview of Messina is to stroll along the walkways that come under the collective title of Viale Italia. These routes start to the west of the university and take in sights such as the Botanic Garden, the Santuario di Montalto, and the chapel of Sacrario di Cristo Re, before ending on the coast road. Since much of the pathway runs along the old fortifications and is high above the city, the views are unparalleled.
Visit The Little Madonna That Blesses The City
Jutting out in Messina Harbour is the remains of the Fort of San Salvatore, which dates back to 1681. Since 1934, a 60-metre high column bearing a statue of the Virgin Mary has been on the site, inscribed with the words ‘Vos et ipsam civitatem benedicimus’, which translate as ‘We bless you and your city’. It’s said that these come from a letter that Mary sent to the city of Messina and the statue is affectionately known as Madonnina, or little Madonna, by the locals.