June 2, 2019
Here are two pictures of last night’s sunset, courtesy of Facebook and Fran Mayo. Thanks, Fran, just beautiful. We had dinner with Tom and Alice in Toscana and saw just the pink sky.
We have been to Sicily before, but not to Messina. We woke to a rainy morning but the forecast was that it would clear by 10 AM, which it did. Very comfortable temperature, I wore jeans and a jacket!
Here are some pictures as we arrived.
We set out for a nice walk around the city and had a great time.
Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily and the 13th largest in Italy. There are about 238,000 people living in the city proper.
Today is a national holiday here (Republic Day – like our Independence Day in the US, when Italians voted to end the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic) so most of the stores and restaurants are closed. The churches have Masses going on and we did stop in several churches.
We saw these fireboats celebrating Republic Day and heard there will be fireworks later tonight (but we sail out at 6!)
The first one was the Cathedral of Messina which is on the main square of the city – the Piazza del Duomo. This cathedral has quite a story. It was built in 1150 and has had a series of tragic mishaps and destructive events. Candles at a 1254 funeral set the building on fire, it was hit by earthquakes in 1783 and 1908 and then was burned again in 1943 after a bombing raid. The dedicated people of the city rebuilt it each time. According to legend, England’s King Richard the Lionhearted worshipped here in 1190 at the beginning of the Third Crusade.
One of the highlights of this church is a clock tower with an elaborate astronomical clock that features a roaring lion and a crowing cock. The 12 minute event happens at noon and we made sure to come back in time for that. We also heard the organ at the end of the mass. I took some videos of the clock but of course can’t load them here on the ship.
There is also a beautiful fountain in this square. It was built by one of Michelangelo’s students and celebrates the city’s first aqueduct and Orion, the city’s mythical father.
We visited several other churches as well as a memorial hall dedicated to those who lost their lives in WWII. Very impressive architecture.
We heard they just installed these statues on the long walk up to the Santuario Montalto. I do not know the significance of them. Some of the best views of the city are from outside this church.
There are a lot of steps to climb everywhere!
Here are some other things we spotted on our walks.
These mosaics are found on the sidewalks.
The bakery windows are just amazing, beautiful pastries and marzipans.
We had a hard time finding an open restaurant but finally found one. Nice pasta, bread and salads for lunch. Love the picture of the clocktower on the plate!
We had to get some of the roasted and sugared nuts from the vendors located all around the square. They smelled so good.
Nice day in Sicily – tomorrow Sorrento.