"A Greek Beauty Stretches Its Hand to the Peninsula" Messina by mikey_e
Messina Travel Guide: 92 reviews and 205 photos
I was unsure whether I should stay the night in Messina because of my guidebook. It described Messina as a dangerous city, particularly near the waterfront where muggings and violent robberies were apparently common. In truth, I found Messina to be a quiet and peaseful town that had much more to offer than the guidebook let on. Besides, the waterfront is generally dangerous in any city you visit. Messina turned out to be a large and modern city with plenty to see and do and with very, very few tourists (all probably scared off by their guidebook warnings). The heat was intense, but a nice breeze blowing in from the sea provided much needed relief from the strong Sicilian sun.
Perhaps the greatest asset of Messina is its geographical location. One would expect that a city on the sea, particularly one that is the transit point for all traffic going to and from the mainland, would be entirely absorbed by the Straits that bear its name. Not true of this city. Messina's architects appear to have divided their time between the sea, on which you will find the Cathedral and numerous churches, and the surrounding hills and mountains, where there is no shortage of monastic institutes and noble buildings to delight most tourists.
Messina stuck in my mind for more than just its bad reputation in the guidebook. It was the last bastion of Sicily's ancient Greek-speaking minority. Southern Italy, particularly the southern coast, was first colonized by Greeks who called the region Magna Graecia. When the Romans reached Sicily and the Mezzogiorno, the Greeks were the only people not to be Latinized. Their ancient and respected culture was long regarded by the Romans as equal to their own and thus it was allowed to continue. To this day there are still Greek-speaking communities across the Strait of Messina in Calaria (Aspromonte). The Greek community of Messina died out in the 19th century, but they at least outlived the other minority communities. Messina was once home to thriving Arab Muslim and Jewish communities. These were expelled by the Castilian authorities who, in 1492, order to expulsion of all non-Catholics from their territories, which included the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
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