Messina (/məˈsiːnə/; Italian
pronunciation: [mesˈsiːna] ( listen), Sicilian:
Missina; Latin: Messana, Greek: Μεσσήνη) is the capital of the
Italian Metropolitan City of Messina. It is the third-largest city on
the island of Sicily, and the 13th-largest city in Italy, with a
population of more than 238,000 inhabitants in the city proper and
about 650,000 in the Metropolitan City. It is located near the
northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa
San Giovanni on the mainland, and has close ties with Reggio Calabria.
According to Eurostat the FUA of the metropolitan area of Messina
has, in 2014, 277,584 inhabitants.
The city's main resources are its seaports (commercial and military
shipyards), cruise tourism, commerce, and agriculture (wine production
and cultivating lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges, and olives). The
city has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite seat
since 1548 and is home to a locally important international fair. The
city has the University of Messina, founded in 1548 by Ignatius of
Messina has a light rail system, Tranvia di Messina, opened on 3 April
2003. This line is 7.7 kilometres (4.8 mi) and links the city's
central railway station with the city centre and harbour.
The city is home to a significant Greek-speaking minority, rooted in
its history and officially recognised.
3 Main sights
3.1 Religious architecture
3.2 Civil and military architecture
5 Literary references
6 See also
9 External links
See also: Timeline of Messina
Frederick II age coins.
An image of the
1908 Messina earthquake
1908 Messina earthquake aftermath.
Unexecuted Beaux-Arts plan for the reconstruction of the port, 1909.
Founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC,
originally called Zancle (Greek: Ζάγκλη), from the Greek
ζάγκλον meaning "scythe" because of the shape of its natural
harbour (though a legend attributes the name to King Zanclus). A
comune of its Metropolitan City, located at the southern entrance of
the Strait of Messina, is to this day called 'Scaletta Zanclea'. In
the early 5th century BC,
Anaxilas of Rhegium
Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene
(Μεσσήνη) in honour of the Greek city
Messene (See also List of
traditional Greek place names). The city was sacked in 397 BC by the
Carthaginians and then reconquered by Dionysius I of Syracuse.
a tract of around 30 kilometres of beaches of Messina
the Feluca, the typical boat used by the fiscermen of
Messina to hunt
The Madonna della Lettera that dominates the port of
Messina is the
Saint Patron of the city, celebrated the 3 of June
In 288 BC the
Mamertines seized the city by treachery, killing all the
men and taking the women as their wives. The city became a base from
which they ravaged the countryside, leading to a conflict with the
expanding regional empire of Syracuse. Hiero II, tyrant of Syracuse,
Mylae on the
Longanus River and besieged
Carthage assisted the
Mamertines because of a long-standing
conflict with Syracuse over dominance in Sicily. When Hiero attacked a
second time in 264 BC, the
Mamertines petitioned the Roman Republic
for an alliance, hoping for more reliable protection. Although
initially reluctant to assist lest it encourage other mercenary groups
Rome was unwilling to see Carthaginian power spread further
Sicily and encroach on Italy.
Rome therefore entered into an
alliance with the Mamertines. In 264 BC, Roman troops were deployed to
Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian
Peninsula. At the end of the
First Punic War
First Punic War it was a free city allied
with Rome. In Roman times Messina, then known as Messana, had an
important pharos (lighthouse). Messana was the base of Sextus
Pompeius, during his war against Octavian.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was successively ruled by
Goths from 476, then by the
Byzantine Empire in 535, by the
842, and in 1061 by the Norman brothers
Robert Guiscard and Roger
Guiscard (later count Roger I of Sicily). In 1189 the English King
Richard I ("The Lionheart") stopped at
Messina en route to the Holy
Land for the
Third Crusade and briefly occupied the city after a
dispute over the dowry of his sister, who had been married to William
the Good, King of Sicily
In 1345 Orlando d'Aragona, illegitimate son of Frederick II of Sicily
was the strategos of Messina.
Messina may have been the harbour at which the
Black Death entered
Europe: the plague was brought by Genoese ships coming from
the Crimea. In 1548 St. Ignatius founded there the first Jesuit
college in the world, which later gave birth to the Studium Generale
(the current University of Messina).
The Christian ships that won the
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
Battle of Lepanto (1571) left from
Messina: the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who took part in the
battle, recovered for some time in the Grand Hospital. The city
reached the peak of its splendour in the early 17th century, under
Spanish domination: at the time it was one of the ten greatest cities
in Europe. In 1674 the city rebelled against the foreign garrison. It
managed to remain independent for some time, thanks to the help of the
French king Louis XIV, but in 1678, with the Peace of Nijmegen, it was
reconquered by the Spaniards and sacked: the university, the senate
and all the privileges of autonomy it had enjoyed since the Roman
times were abolished. A massive fortress was built by the occupants
Messina decayed steadily. In 1743, 48,000 died of plague in the
In 1783, an earthquake devastated much of the city, and it took
decades to rebuild and rekindle the cultural life of Messina. In 1847
it was one of the first cities in
Risorgimento riots broke
out. In 1848 it rebelled openly against the reigning Bourbons, but was
heavily suppressed again. Only in 1860, after the Battle of Milazzo,
the Garibaldine troops occupied the city. One of the main figures of
the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini, was elected deputy at
Messina in the general elections of 1866. Another earthquake of less
intensity damaged the city on 16 November 1894. 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. It incurred further damage from the
massive Allied air bombardments of 1943. The city was awarded a Gold
Medal for Military Valour and one for Civil Valour in memory of the
event and the subsequent effort of reconstruction.
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.
the Feast of the Assumption on mid August
Messina has a subtropical mediterranean climate with long, hot summers
with low diurnal temperature variation with consistent dry weather. In
Messina is rather wet and mild. Diurnals remain low and remain
averaging above 10 °C (50 °F) lows even during winter. It
is rather rainier than
Reggio Calabria on the other side of the
Messina Strait, a remarkable climatic difference for such a small
Climate data for Messina
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Servizio Meteorologico (temperature and precipitation data
1971–2000); Clima en
Messina desde 1957 hasta 2013
Messina Osservatorio Meteorologico (temperature records
since 1909); Servizio Meteorologico (relative humidity and sun data
Messina Strait seen from
Messina towards the Italian
Reggio Calabria can be seen on the right.
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Cathedral of Messina.
Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani.
Fountain of Orion.
The Cathedral (12th century), containing the remains of king Conrad,
Sicily in the 13th century. The building had to
be almost entirely rebuilt in 1919–20, following the devastating
1908 earthquake, and again in 1943, after a fire triggered by Allied
bombings. The original Norman structure can be recognised in the
apsidal area. The façade has three late Gothic portals, the central
of which probably dates back to the early 15th century. The architrave
is decorated with a sculpture of Christ Among the Evangelists and
various representations of men, animals and plants. The tympanum dates
back to 1468. The interior is organised in a nave and two equally long
aisles divided by files of 28 columns. Some decorative elements belong
the original building, although the mosaics in the apse are
reconstructions. Tombs of illustrious men besides Conrad IV include
those of Archbishops Palmer (died in 1195), Guidotto de Abbiate (14th
century) and Antonio La Legname (16th century).
Special interest is
held by the Chapel of the Sacrament (late 16th century), with scenic
decorations and 14th century mosaics. The bell tower holds one of the
largest astronomical clocks in the world, built in 1933 by the Ungerer
Company of Strasbourg. The belfry's mechanically-animated statues,
which illustrate events from the civil and religious history of the
city every day at noon, are a popular tourist attraction.
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Carmelo (near the Courthouse), built
in 1931, which contains a 17th-century statue of the Virgin Mary. See
also Chiesa del Carmine.
The Sanctuary of Montevergine, where the incorrupt body of Saint
Eustochia Smeralda Calafato
Eustochia Smeralda Calafato is preserved.
Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani
Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani (late 12th–13th
century). Dating from the late Norman period, it was transformed in
the 13th century when the nave was shortened and the façade added. It
has a cylindrical apse and a high dome emerging from a high tambour.
Noteworthy is the external decoration of the transept and the dome
area, with a series of blind arches separated by small columns,
clearly reflecting Arabic architectural influences.
The Church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni (early 13th century), which
was formerly a chapel of the Teutonic Knights. It is a rare example of
Gothic architecture in Sicily, as is witnessed by the arched
windows and shapely buttresses.
The giants Mata and Grifone, whose stories are told about the city,
are brought around
Messina during the second week of August
Civil and military architecture
The 'Botanical Garden
Pietro Castelli of the University of Messina.
The Palazzo Calapaj, an example of 18th-century Messinese architecture
which survived until the 1908 earthquake.
The Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, a 16th-century fort in the Port of
The Forte Gonzaga, a 16th-century fort overlooking Messina.
The Porta Grazia, 17th-century gate of the "
Real Cittadella di
Messina", by Domenico Biundo and Antonio Amato, a fortress still
existing in the harbour.
The Pylon, built in 1957 together with a twin located across the
Strait of Messina, to carry a 220 kV overhead power line bringing
electric power to the island. At the time of their construction, the
two electric pylons were the highest in the world. The power line has
since been replaced by an underwater cable, but the pylon still stands
as a freely accessible tourist attraction.
The San Ranieri lighthouse, built in 1555.
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.
Museo Regionale di
Messina (MuMe) hosting notable paintings by
Caravaggio, Antonello da Messina, Alonzo Rodriguez, Mattia Preti
The Galleria d'Arte Contemporanea di Messina, hostings paintings by
Giò Pomodoro, Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana, Corrado Cagli, Giuseppe
Migneco, Max Liebermann
Antonello da Messina, major painter of the Renaissance (born 1430)
Aristocles of Messene, Peripatetic philosopher (1st century AD)
Dicaearchus, Greek philosopher and mathematician (born 350 BC)
Guido delle Colonne, judge and writer (13th century)
Girolamo Alibrandi, painter (born in 1470)
Eustochia Smeralda Calafato, saint (born 1434)
Francesco Maurolico, astronomer, mathematician and humanist (born
Filippo Juvarra, Baroque architect (born 1678)
Mariano Riccio, painter (born 1510)
Francesco Comande, painter (16th century)
Alonzo Rodriguez, painter (born 1578)
Giovanni Quagliata, painter (born 1603)
Agostino Scilla, painter, paleontologist, geologist and pioneer in the
study of fossils (born 1629)
Giovanni Tuccari, painter (born 1667)
Caio Domenico Gallo, historian (born 1697)
Antonio Barbalonga, painter (17th century)
Filippo Bonaffino (fl. 1623), Italian madrigal composer
Mario Aspa, composer (born 1797)
Giuseppe La Farina, leader of the Italian
Risorgimento (born 1815)
Giuseppe Seguenza, naturalist and geologist (born 1833)
Giuseppe Natoli, lawyer and politician (born 1815)
Giuseppe Sergi, anthropologist and psychologist (born 1841)
Annibale Maria Di Francia, saint (born 1851)
Luigi Rizzo, naval officer and
First World War
First World War hero (born 1887)
Adolfo Celi, actor (born 1922)
Maria Grazia Cucinotta, actress (born 1968)
Nino Frassica, actor (born 1950)
Massimo Mollica, actor (born 1929)
Tano Cimarosa, actor (born 1922)
Gaetano Martino, politician, physician and university teacher (born
Giuseppe Migneco, painter (born 1908)
Stefano D'Arrigo, writer (born 1919)
Vincenzo Nibali, cyclist (born 1984)
Tony Cairoli, motocross world champion (born 1985)
Agata C. M. Scolgio, also known as Tina Scala, actress (born July 16,
Giuseppe La Motta, the father of boxer Jake La Motta, was from Messina
but emigrated to America.
Antonino Prestopino and Letteria Rando, the parents of famous
mid-twentieth century artist Gregorio Prestopino, came from Messina
and left just prior to his birth.
The statue of Messina
Pitoni, a common dish in Messina
Numerous writers set their works in Messina, including:
Plutarch – The Life of Pompey (40 BC?)
Giovanni Boccaccio – Decameron IV day V novel, Lisabetta da Messina
– IV day IV Novel, Gerbino ed Elissa (1351)
Matteo Bandello – Novelliere First Part, novel XXII (1554)
William Shakespeare –
Much Ado about Nothing
Much Ado about Nothing (1598) and Antony and
Molière – L'Etourdi ou Les Contre-temps (1654)
Friedrich Schiller – Die Braut von
Messina (The Bride of Messina,
Silvio Pellico – Eufemio da
Friedrich Nietzsche – Idyllen aus
Messina (Idylls from Messina,
Giovanni Pascoli – poem L'Aquilone (1904)
Elio Vittorini – Le donne di
Messina (Women of Messina, 1949) and
Conversazione in Sicilia (Conversations in Sicily, 1941)
Stefano D'Arrigo – Horcynus Orca (1975)
Julien Green – Demain n'existe pas (1985)
International Rally of Messina
Messina Centrale railway station
Messina Grand Prix
Messina Grand Prix held between 1959 and 1961
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina Bridge
Torre Faro 224 metres tall lattice tower
Zanclean Age of the
Pliocene Epoch in geology, named for Zancle,
Messinian Age of the
Miocene Epoch in geology, named for Messina
^ Data from ISTAT
^ Population of Messina,
Italy Archived 2014-05-13 at the Wayback
Machine. Geonames Geographical database
^ "Delimiting the territory of the Greek linguistic minority of
^ "Epidemiology of the
Black Death and Successive Waves of Plague" by
Samuel K Cohn JR. Medical History.
Messina Declaration 1955'' final document of ''The Conference
of Messina'' 1 to 3 June 1955 – birth of the European Union".
Eu-history.leidenuniv.nl. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
^ "MESSINA" (PDF). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 13 October
^ "Messina". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
Messina Osservatorio Meteorologico". Servizio Meteorologico
dell’Aeronautica Militare. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
^ "MESSINA". Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
See also: Bibliography of the history of Messina
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Messina.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Messina.
Wikisource has the text of the 1879
American Cyclopædia article
Official website (in Italian)
Comuni of the Metropolitan City of Messina
Alcara li Fusi
Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto
Castel di Lucio
Francavilla di Sicilia
Monforte San Giorgio
Nizza di Sicilia
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Pace del Mela
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San Pier Niceto
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San Salvatore di Fitalia
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Italy by population
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