The city of Messina is best known for the Strait of Messina: all those who come from mainland regions, going from Calabria to Sicily, pass necessarily from the strait.
In fact, every day, all the time, boats and ferries transport people (click here), cars, trucks and general goods from one bank to the other . No longer afraid of the monsters Scylla and Charybdis told by Greek mythology: the legend says that both of these sea monsters controlled the strait and did sink the boats that dared challenge navigating these waters.
The strait then connects Reggio Calabria to Messina, but it is not the only link between the two cities: the story unites both in the Greek origins that in the past the Roman domination, the Byzantine, Norman and Spanish. The same fate stroke the two cities even during the terrible earthquake of 1908, when both were destroyed, but the people pledged themselves to the point that the reconstruction was very quick. Another point in common between the two cities of the Straits, is a very pleasant one, this time. It is the delicious swordfish caught in their waters and cooked on the two coasts in a equally sublime way.
The coast to the north of Messina offers beautiful sandy beaches and so far there is nothing strange. However, what is curious is the name of some of these areas such as: Peace, Contemplation and Paradise! It is true that, when you come here, you can stay in the “contemplation” in front of the fantastic view (looking over the blue sea, you can perfectly see the coast of Calabria), enjoy “peace” and tranquility and feel in “paradise” ! The latter name belonged to the property of a noble which is nestled in beautiful gardens and citrus groves, where was once the meeting point of many personalities; the name was later extended to the whole area. The name of Contemplation is instead probably due to Our Lady of Contemplation church nearby.
If you go from Messina to the extreme north-east side of the Strait, meaning up to Capo Peloro or Punta del Faro, where the Tyrrhenian Sea meets the Ionian Sea, there are two lakes. The largest, that is, the lake of Ganzirri, is called Pantano Grande. The smallest, that is, the Lake of Faro, is called Pantano Piccolo. These lakes, connected to the sea by canals, have a strong bio diversity character and this feature made them become a protected area. Already in the nineteenth century it was discovered that the lakes could produce a great source of wealth and what today we would call “sustainable business” for the inhabitants of the area. We are talking about the delicious local mussel. In fact, exactly around that time it was discovered how to farm clams and mussels. Currently this activity continues especially in the Pantano Piccolo.
The city of Messina has hosted many celebrities, especially artists: the famous painter Caravaggio stayed in Messina by the end of 1608 to summer 1609,after being in Syracuse. His great mind was certainly inspired by this beautiful city, since that time was very fruitful from an artistic point of view for the painter. He received a number of orders, both by private clients and some from public bodies. From his staying in Messina, he left two fantastic testimonies: the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Resurrection of Lazarus. These two wonderful works can be admired in the halls of the Regional Museum, where there are also the works by Antonello da Messina.
It is wrong to think of the city of Messina simply as a place of passage; it is worth instead to take your time to discover fully and enjoy this fantastic resort at its best.