Messina, The land of the Strait

Today Italian Traditions stops in Messina, the land of the Strait, which separates Sicily from Calabria. Nature has been able to forge this area making it a masterpiece that reflects its ideal frame to the sea. Amongst the city’s most beloved attractions by visitors there is the bell tower of the Duomo, made special by the presence of its astronomical clock, the largest and most complex in the world.

The clock, that was designed to represent in seven scenes the civil and religious history of Messina, was designed by the Ungerer company of Strasbourg and inaugurated in  1933. At 12:00 pm every day a complex system of levers and counterweights allows the movement of automata statues, made in bronze, that are located on the facade. An exceptional show in which a cock crows, a lion roars and two women strike the hours. They are Dina and Clarenza, two women from Messina, which saved their city from a night attack by the dynasty Angioini in the night of August 8, 1282, by rolling stones from the walls and raising the alarm with the sound of the bells. The clock’s complex mechanism bears the signature of Théodore Ungerer, whom wanted to give it a deep symbolic meaning of ascending movement of the human spirit to God.

If you find yourself or you are planning your holidays in Messina and its surroundings, and youre seeking for the most beautiful places to see, for a good local restaurant or even a farmhouse where to stay, here are for you the Italian Traditions tips.


1. VISIT THE CATHEDRAL, situated in Piazza Duomo dominated by the beautiful Fountain of Orion “the most beautiful European fountain of the sixteenth century”, representing the triumph of Orion, the founder of the city according to mythology.

2. WALK THE PATHS THAT OVERLOOK THE ALCANTARA GORGES at the Alcantara River Park, which offers a spectacle beyond compare. A canyon that owes its peculiarity to the cooling phenomena of ancient lava flows.

3. SPEND AN AFTERNOON VISITING THE REGIONAL MUSEUM, which houses about two hundred art works, including sculptures, mosaics, Byzantine tables and locally made pottery. In the Picture Gallery we report three masterpieces: the Polittico di San Gregorio by Antonello da Messina, the Adorazione dei Magi and the Resurrezione di Lazzaro by Caravaggio.

4. TAKE PART OLD PROCESSION OF AUGUST’S FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION, called “La Vara”, the most felt festivity from Messina people, where a heavy simulacrum without wheels,including various angels and Virgin Mary, is towed on a sled (the asphalt is specially wetted) by thousands of barefoot people.

5. ENJOY A PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE CITY and of the Strait from the square where the Votive Temple of Christ the King stands.

6. ORGANIZE A TOUR OUTSIDE THE CITY. DESTINATION GIARDINI-NAXOS, cradle of ancient Mediterranean civilizations and avant-garde tourist train. Its highlight? The promenade along the sea and sandy beaches.

7. ENJOY THE BEST CITY’S ARANCINI stopping at Rosticceria F.lli Famulari (via C. Battisti, 143), opposite the university, where you can choose from forty different types of arancini prepared with passion and skill.

8. EAT MESSINA’S TYPICAL FOCACCIA at Focacceria Da Biagio (corso Cavour, 49); located just 100 meters from Piazza Duomo, the Nazzareno Pitagna workshop is one of the best places in town to enjoy Messina’s focaccia, not only for the excellent quality but also for the rich variety of tastes.

9. DISCOVER THE SPECIALTIES OF MESSINA’S TRADITION diving into the comfortable  and relaxing atmosphere of Antica Osteria Al Muricello, which offers both meat and fish dishes always prepared with fresh and genuine raw materials.

10. STAY IN THE PARK NEBRODI, through the woods surrounding in the Agriturismo Masseria Santa Mamma (C. da Santa Mamma – Acquedolci), where you can sample a cuisine of ancient tastes that uses home-grown ingredients, all strictly organic.

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