Messina (/mɛˈsnə/ mess-EE-nə, US also /mɪˈ-/ miss-,[4][5][6] Italian: [mesˈsiːna] ; Sicilian: Missina [mɪsˈsiːna])[a] is a harbour city and 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 218,000[7] 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 and it is an important access terminal to Calabria region, Villa San Giovanni, Reggio Calabria on the mainland. According to Eurostat[8] the FUA of the metropolitan area of Messina has, in 2014, 277,584 inhabitants.

Messina
Missina (Sicilian)
Μεσσήνη (Greek)[1]
Comune di Messina
Flag of Messina
Coat of arms of Messina
Position of the commune in the Metropolitan City
Position of the commune in the Metropolitan City
Location of Messina
Map
Messina is located in Italy
Messina
Messina
Location of Messina in Italy
Messina is located in Sicily
Messina
Messina
Messina (Sicily)
Coordinates: 38°11′37″N 15°33′15″E / 38.19361°N 15.55417°E / 38.19361; 15.55417
CountryItaly
RegionSicily
Metropolitan cityMessina (ME)
Government
 • MayorFederico Basile
Area
 • Total213.23 km2 (82.33 sq mi)
Elevation
3 m (10 ft)
Population
 (1 January 2023)[3]
 • Total218,786
 • Density1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
DemonymMessinese
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
98100
Dialing code090
ISTAT code083048
Patron saintMadonna of the Letter
Saint dayJune 3
WebsiteOfficial website

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 Loyola.

History edit

 
13th-century coins minted during the reign of Frederick II.
 
17th century map of Messina
 
An image of the 1908 Messina earthquake aftermath. Ruins of the Duomo

Founded by Greek colonists of Magna Graecia in the 8th century BC, Messina was 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'. Solinus wrote that the city of Metauros was established by people from Zancle.[9]

In the early 5th century BC Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene (Μεσσήνη) in honour of the Greek city Messene (See also List of traditional Greek place names). Later, Micythus was the ruler of Rhegium and Zancle, and he also founded the city of Pyxus.[10] 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, a typical boat used by the fishermen of Messina to hunt swordfish

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, defeated the Mamertines near Mylae on the Longanus River and besieged Messina. 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 to mutiny, Rome was unwilling to see Carthaginian power spread further over 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 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.[citation needed]

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire the city was successively ruled by Goths from 476, then by the Byzantine Empire in 535, by the Arabs in 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, the illegitimate son of Frederick II of Sicily was the strategos of Messina.[citation needed]

In 1347 Messina was one of the first points of entry for the black death into Western Europe. Genoese galleys travelling from the infected city of Kaffa carried plague into the Messina ports. Kaffa had been infected via Asian trade routes and the siege of Kaffa from infected Mongol armies led by Janibeg; it was a departure point for many Italian merchants who fled the city to Sicily. Contemporary accounts from Messina tell of the arrival of "Death Ships" from the East, which floated to shore with all the passengers on board already dead or dying of plague. Plague-infected rats probably also came aboard these ships. The black death ravaged Messina and rapidly spread northward into mainland Italy from Sicily in the following few months.[citation needed]

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).[11] The Christian ships that won the 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.[citation needed]

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 and Messina decayed steadily. In 1743, 48,000 died of a second wave of plague in the city.[12]

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 Italy where 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.[citation needed] However, thousands of residents displaced by the earthquake lived in shanty towns outside the city until the late 1930s, when further reconstruction finally commenced.

It incurred further damage from the massive Allied air bombardments of 1943; before and during the Allied invasion of Sicily. Messina, owing to its strategic importance as a transit point for Axis troops and supplies sent to Sicily from mainland Italy, was a prime target for the British and American air forces, which dropped some 6,500 tons of bombs in the span of a few months.[13] These raids destroyed one-third of the city, and caused 854 deaths among the population.[14] The city was awarded a Gold Medal of Military Valor and one for Civil Valor by the Italian government in memory of the event and the subsequent effort of reconstruction.[15]

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.[16] The conference was held mainly in Messina's City Hall building (it), and partly in nearby Taormina.

The city is home to a small Greek-speaking minority, which arrived from the Peloponnese between 1533 and 1534 when fleeing the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. They were officially recognised in 2012.[17]

 
Via Garibaldi, one of the main streets of Messina. After the 1908 earthquake it was widened and lengthened to the south to conform to the new urban plan

Geography edit

Climate edit

Messina has a subtropical Mediterranean climate with long, hot summers with low diurnal temperature variation with consistent dry weather. In winter, 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 distance.

Climate data for Messina, elevation: 59 m or 194 ft, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1909–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.6
(76.3)
25.8
(78.4)
32.0
(89.6)
29.6
(85.3)
33.6
(92.5)
43.4
(110.1)
43.6
(110.5)
41.8
(107.2)
40.5
(104.9)
36.4
(97.5)
29.2
(84.6)
26.6
(79.9)
43.6
(110.5)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 14.8
(58.6)
15.0
(59.0)
16.9
(62.4)
19.4
(66.9)
23.4
(74.1)
27.8
(82.0)
30.9
(87.6)
31.4
(88.5)
27.8
(82.0)
24.0
(75.2)
19.8
(67.6)
16.2
(61.2)
22.3
(72.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.4
(54.3)
12.3
(54.1)
14.0
(57.2)
16.2
(61.2)
20.0
(68.0)
24.2
(75.6)
27.2
(81.0)
27.8
(82.0)
24.4
(75.9)
20.9
(69.6)
17.1
(62.8)
13.7
(56.7)
19.2
(66.6)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 10.1
(50.2)
9.7
(49.5)
11.3
(52.3)
13.3
(55.9)
16.9
(62.4)
21.1
(70.0)
24.0
(75.2)
24.7
(76.5)
21.4
(70.5)
18.3
(64.9)
14.6
(58.3)
11.4
(52.5)
16.4
(61.5)
Record low °C (°F) 0.2
(32.4)
−0.1
(31.8)
−0.2
(31.6)
4.3
(39.7)
7.5
(45.5)
12.4
(54.3)
15.3
(59.5)
14.4
(57.9)
12.5
(54.5)
7.5
(45.5)
5.1
(41.2)
0.8
(33.4)
−0.2
(31.6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 118.5
(4.67)
92.4
(3.64)
94.0
(3.70)
65.5
(2.58)
37.1
(1.46)
32.1
(1.26)
19.8
(0.78)
29.9
(1.18)
91.8
(3.61)
114.1
(4.49)
126.9
(5.00)
127.3
(5.01)
949.3
(37.37)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.90 9.87 8.93 6.90 4.33 2.76 2.03 2.27 7.40 7.93 10.70 11.73 85.75
Average relative humidity (%) 74.1 71.9 71.3 70.9 69.1 68.3 68.1 68.8 71.4 73.9 74.7 74.0 71.4
Average dew point °C (°F) 7.6
(45.7)
6.7
(44.1)
8.1
(46.6)
10.1
(50.2)
13.2
(55.8)
15.8
(60.4)
19.5
(67.1)
20.7
(69.3)
18.5
(65.3)
15.8
(60.4)
12.0
(53.6)
8.9
(48.0)
13.1
(55.5)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 142.6 153.2 207.7 222.0 277.5 300.0 334.2 314.0 231.9 199.0 150.9 126.5 2,659.5
Source 1: NOAA[18], (Dew point for 1981-2010)[19]
Source 2: Temperature estreme in Toscana[20]

Government edit

Main sights edit

Panorama of Messina Strait seen from Messina towards the Italian mainland. Reggio Calabria can be seen on the right.
 
Abandoned houses dating from the 18th century in the ancient quarter of Tirone

Religious architecture edit

 
Cathedral of Messina.
 
Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani.
 
13th century Church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni
 
The extant octagonal tower of the 11th century Matagrifone Castle and the Cristo Re sanctuary
  • The cathedral (12th century), containing the remains of the king Conrad, ruler of Germany and 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 the Messina astronomical clock, 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, 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 is preserved.
  • The 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 pure 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
 
The Madonna della Lettera that dominates the port of Messina is the Patron Saint of the city, celebrated on 3 June

Civil and military architecture edit

 
Fountain of Orion in Piazza Duomo
 
Porta Grazia
 
Statue of Don John of Austria, hero of Lepanto
 
Palazzo della Provincia, Corso Cavour
  • The Botanical Garden Pietro Castelli of the University of Messina.
  • The Palazzo Calapaj-d'Alcontresj, an example of 18th-century Messinese architecture which is one of the few noble palazzi to have survived the 1908 earthquake.
  • The Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, a 16th-century fort in the Port of Messina.
  • 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 Palazzo della Provincia (Palazzo dei Leoni), provincial Seat, built in 1914 by Alessandro Giunta.
  • The Palace of Culture, built in 2009.

Monuments edit

  • 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 monument to John of Austria, by Andrea Camalech (1572)
  • The Senatory Fountain, built in 1619.
  • The Four Fountains, though only two elements of the four-cornered complex survive today.
  • LaFenice, a sculpture on Piazza della Memoria
 
One of the two surviving Four Fountains dating from the 17-18th centuries. Located on the corner of Via 1 Settembre and Via Cardines

Museums edit

Public transport edit

Railways edit

The new Messina Centrale station building was projected following the modern criteria of the futurist architect Angiolo Mazzoni, and is extended through the stations square. It is at almost contiguous with Messina Marittima station, located by the port and constituting a Ferry transport in the Strait of Messina to Villa San Giovanni station across the Strait of Messina.[21] In 2021 the harbor of Messina was the busiest passenger port in Europe with over 8.232.000 passenger crossings in one year.[22]

The station is electrified and served by regional trains. For long-distance transport it counts some InterCity and ICN night trains to Rome, linking it also with Milan, Turin, Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, and other cities. It is also part of the projected Berlin–Palermo railway axis.

Since 2010, a suburban train service has been carried out along the Messina-Catania-Syracuse railway with routes serving the stations of Fiumara Gazzi, Contesse, Tremestieri, Mili Marina, Galati, Ponte Santo Stefano, Ponte Schiavo, San Paolo and Giampilieri.[23]

Bus and tram edit

Messina's public bus system is operated by ATM Messina:[24] starting from 8 October 2018, has reorganized the offer of public transport, introducing a bus line (line 1 - Shuttle 100) which with a frequency of approx. 15 minutes, it crosses 38 of the total 50 km of the coast of the City of Messina. Thus, a comb service is created, with interchange stops at which the buses to and from the villages terminate, and with the tram which reaches a frequency of about 20 minutes.[25] About 36 different routes reach every part of the city and also the modern Messina tramway[26] (at "Repubblica" stop, on station's square), opened in 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 industrial plan provides for the purchase of about 66 buses in the three-year period 2020–2022 to improve the environmental performance and comfort of the fleet. Furthermore, the resources equal to 1.82 million euros, coming from the PON Metro 2014-2020 will allow:

  • Installation of the AVM system on the vehicles;
  • Installation of turnstiles on electric buses;
  • Implementation of the electronic ticketing system;
  • Installation of electronic poles.[27][28]

Sports team edit

Notable people edit

List of notable people from Messina or connected to Messina, listed by career and then in alphabetical order by last name.

Actors edit

Artists and designers edit

Politicians, civil service, military edit

Musicians, composers edit

Religion edit

Sports edit

Researchers, academics edit

Others edit

Literary references edit

 
The statue of Messina
 
Pitoni, a common dish in Messina

Numerous writers set their works in Messina, including:

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Latin: Messana; Ancient Greek: Μεσσήνη, romanizedMessḗnē.

References edit

  1. ^ "Delimiting the territory of the Greek linguistic minority of Messina" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Data from ISTAT
  4. ^ "Messina" (US) and "Messina". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Messina". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Messina". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Resident population on 1st January". dati.istat.it. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - functional urban areas [urb_lpop1]". Eurostat. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  9. ^ Solinus, Polyhistor, 2.10
  10. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library, § 11.59.1
  11. ^ Campione, Giuseppe (2003). La composizione visiva del luogo: appunti di geografia immediata (in Italian). Rubbettino Editore. ISBN 978-88-498-0663-2.
  12. ^ "Epidemiology of the Black Death and Successive Waves of Plague" by Samuel K Cohn JR. Medical History.
  13. ^ La Piazza Marittima di Messina (1939-1943)
  14. ^ Proposta l’istituzione di una "giornata della memoria" degli 854 messinesi morti sotto i bombardamenti del ‘43
  15. ^ Presidenza della Repubblica
  16. ^ "The Messina Declaration 1955 final document of The Conference of Messina 1 to 3 June 1955 – birth of the European Union". Eu-history.leidenuniv.nl. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Delimiting the territory of the Greek linguistic minority of Messina" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  18. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for 1991-2020: Messina-16420". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  19. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for 1981-2010: Messina(WMO number: 16420)" (XLS). ncei.noaa.gov (Excel). National Oceanic and Atmosoheric Administration. Retrieved 29 February 2024. Parameter code: 39 - Dew Point Temperature
  20. ^ "Messina Osservatorio Meteorologico" (in Italian). Temperature estreme in Toscana. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  21. ^ Stazione di Messina Marittima Fondazione FS Italiane
  22. ^ Top 50 Passenger Harbors in Europe Ferrygogo Research
  23. ^ Metroferrovia Messina-Giampilieri on Ferroviesiciliane (in Italian)
  24. ^ ATM Messina
  25. ^ atmmessinaspa.it. "Linee ed orari" (in Italian). Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  26. ^ Messina Tramway on ATM website(in Italian)
  27. ^ Carta della mobilità 2020 pag.6 su Atmmessinaspa.it 2020
  28. ^ Sistema di infomobilità su Ponmetro.it progetti Messina
  29. ^ "Donne in Arcadia (1690-1800)". www.arcadia.uzh.ch. Retrieved 9 August 2020.

Sources edit

External links edit