Messina is the gateway to Sicily. A city with a troubled history, especially as regards the earthquake of 1908, which destroyed most of the buildings, with their numerous styles, from Gothic to Norman, from Arab-Byzantine to Baroque, which characterized the city. After that emblatic date, despite the difficulties, the reconstruction and restoration works were carried out, especially during the 30s, and today it is still possible to admire the imposing beauty of the Cathedral of Messina, with its high Campanile which houses the Astronymic Clock and visit the numerous churches that are located in every corner of the city.
Located on the Strait a stone's throw from Calabria, where the Ionian Sea meets the Tyrrhenian Sea, this city will give you the right "welcome" and then move on to discover the many Sicilian jewels. So here it is all you need to know about Messina: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening!
- 10 things to see in Messina in a weekend
- What to see in Messina in one day: recommended itinerary
- Where to eat in Messina: the best restaurants
- What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Messina
- Plan your stay in Messina: info and useful tips
- User questions and comments
10 things to see in Messina in a weekend
1 - Cathedral of Messina
The Cathedral of Messina is a majestic building located in the historic center of the city. The beauty of the Cathedral lies in all the architectural styles that characterize it, from Romanesque to Norman, from Gothic to Baroque: the history of this church dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta it is troubled, made up of fires, bombings, damage due to earthquakes. Yet, each time, the building was rebuilt, always trying to keep its originality. Today it is still a religious and art-rich place, where you can admire statues and paintings, funerary monuments, chapels and sacred objects of great value.
In the south atrium of the Duomo is the Treasury, that is a collection of creations by Messina goldsmiths and silversmiths, and if you want to observe Messina from above, you will also have the opportunity to get on the Campanile of the Duomo, a tower that houses artistic representations on each floor, up to the last one, the one that houses the large clock.
- in Piazza Duomo, 29; 7 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- Duomo every day from 07: 30-19: 00; Tesoro del Duomo Tue-Sat 11: 00-13: 00 (other times based on the current month), Campanile del Duomo every day 11: 00-13: 00 (other times based on the current month)
- Duomo free; Treasury of the Cathedral € 4,00; Bell tower of the Duomo € 4,00; Treasury and Bell Tower € 6,00
2 - Regional Museum of Messina
The Regional Museum of Messina (MuMe) was born in a former spinning mill, one of the few buildings left intact after the disastrous earthquake of 1908
The palace it is organized in 13 rooms, in each of which the works have been ordered in chronological order, we start from the rooms dedicated to the Arab-Byzantine era, passing subsequently to the works of artists such as Caravaggio, Antonello da Messina, Mattia Preti, Guericino, up to the creations made from the skilled hands of Messina silversmiths.
- in Viale della Libertà, 465; 23 min by TRAM Museum from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- Tue-Sat from 9: 00-18: 30 and Sun and holidays from 9: 00-12: 30
- full € 8,00, reduced € 4,00
3 - Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani
The influence of the Arab-Norman style from the architectural point of view it is visible in a building par excellence in Messina, we are talking about the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani Church. The church, probably built in the th century, with rather simple exteriors with elegant capitals, is adorned inside with Arabesque motifs, with finely decorated arches arranged over three naves, between which a high dome rises.
Due to the earthquakes that destabilized the area, the building structure is located 3 meters below street level. Outside the church there is a bronze statue dedicated to Don Giovanni d'Austria, to celebrate the naval battle of Lepanto against the Turks.
- in Via Vittorio Emanuele II; 4 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- all groups from 8: 00-10: 30
4 - Shrine of Christ the King
The Sacrario Cristo Re is an octagonal building on the top of which stands a large dome.
Its grandeur makes it thebuilding more visible to travelers on board the ferries arriving at the Port of Messina. The Shrine is in fact located in a strategic point for the city, where in the past a castle was also built, the Castle of Rocca Guelfonia.
In Norman times it came within its walls hosted Richard I the Lionheart, in the Swabian era there were the Angevins, and many works were carried out under the Spaniards. A royal residence, therefore, but also the scene of sieges by the Messina inhabitants against foreign domination, the castle ended up in rubble after the 1908 earthquake and the Memorial, rebuilt in the 30s, is today a tomb of the fallen in war.
- in the Sacrario Cristo Re; 22 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- 9: 00-12: 30, closed on Saturday and Sunday
5 - Fountain of Orione and Fountain of Neptune
Among the beautiful fountains that embellish the streets and squares of Messina, undoubtedly stands out Fountain of Orione, located in Piazza Duomo. The fountain was made of marble and finished in 1553 by the artist Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, first pupil and then collaborator of Michelangelo, who created this work to celebrate the first aqueduct in the city. On its top it stands Orion, mythological figure identified as the founder of Messina, together with his faithful dog Sirio.
The success resulting from the construction of this fountain led the artist to receive a further commission, for which in 1557 the Neptune Fountain, located in Piazza Unità d'Italia.
Also in marble, the fountain portrays the god Neptune while restoring tranquility between the stormy waters of Scilla and Cariddi.
- Orione Fountain in Piazza Duomo; 6 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions; Fountain of Neptune in Via G. Garibaldi; 14 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- always accessible
6 - Fort San Salvatore and Stele of the Madonna della Letter
If the symbol of New York is the Statue of Liberty, that of Messina is undoubtedly there Stele of Our Lady of the Letter. The concrete monument, erected in 1934 and designed by Francesco Babraro, stands on the most extreme point of the San Raineri peninsula and consists of an octagonal column, on top of which is the gilded bronze statue of the Madonna della Letter, made by the sculptor Tore Edmundo Calabrò.
The Stele is located in Fort of the Most Holy Savior, dating back to the '500, which rises in this strategic and defensive position for the city of Messina. This complex of buildings belongs to the Military Property, so to access it you need to book a visit (by consulting the section Visit the Fort San Salvatore Messina on the website of the Ministry of Defense) where a guide will lead you inside the castle, as well as on top of the Stele of the Madonna of the Letter.
- entry into the port of Messina; 35 minutes walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- every day from 9: 00-12.30 and from 14: 30-16: 30 (visit to be booked)
7 - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III and Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III is a sumptuous building made in Liberty style, in the 30s of the twentieth century. The entrance arch is located in Piazza Antonello, the interiors are majestic, with floors made up of small mosaics, while a high glass dome rises in the center. The elegance of the structure and the play of lights that cross the roofs of the gallery make this place truly suggestive, in fact in 2000 it was included among the historical-artistic assets of Italy. The premises inside were intended to house offices and commercial activities, but at the moment there are several clubs and bars.
Not far from the Gallery, in Via Garibaldi stands the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II, a neo-baroque style building near the sea, whose construction began in the early 800th century.
- Vittorio Emanuele III Gallery in Piazza Antonello 13; 10 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions; Vittorio Emanuele II Theater in Via G. Garibaldi; 9 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III always accessible; Vittorio Emanuele II Theater always accessible (not open to visitors except for events)
8 - Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montalto
Post on most beautiful viewpoint in the city and of the Strait, on the Caperrina hill, the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montalto was the first religious building rebuilt after the extensive damage of the 1908 earthquake. It is a church built in Romanesque and Gothic style, with two twin spire bell towers that close a facade, on which stands the statue of Madonna of the Victories, built in the '550.
The crucifix kept inside also dates back to the 500th century and was recovered from the rubble after the terrible earthquake. Among the other works in the Sanctuary, there are paintings by the Messina artists Francesco Cardilli and Placido Celi, dating back to the sixteenth century.
- in Via Dina and Clarenza, 16; 15 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- Sun and Sat 08: 30-12: 30; Wed and Thu 15: 00-17: 00; Fri and Tue 15: 00-19: 00
9 - University Botanical Garden
Inside the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Messina, near the city center, stands theUniversity Botanical Garden, inaugurated in 1638 and dedicated to the physician and botanist Pietro Castelli.
The Garden is a green area where you can walk among exotic species, relax following different paths, from the simple walk on the avenues, to the path designed for the blind to the one that will instead lead you to analyze the most important species from the point of view of the evolution of the plant world. Although its size is not large, this green spot of the city is the ideal place to escape from urban chaos, admiring plants and flowers from all over the world.
- in Viale Principe Umberto, 1; 20 min walk from the Port of Messina - Get directions
- Mon-Fri 8: 00-12: 00
10 - Capo Peloro
The protected area of Capo Peloro is located on the extreme north-eastern tip of Sicily and is part of the urban territory of Messina. In this area stands the Capo Peloro lighthouse, an essential building for ships entering the island from the north. Here is where theTyrrhenian Sea meets the Ionian Sea, therefore it is the coastal stretch where the currents are often very intense and getting up to here means being able to observe Calabria, which seems to be a few steps away.
A really curious excursion to do in these areas is the one at Lake of Ganzirri, also known as Pantano Grande, which rises right next to the sea. Here it is possible to take a ride on the waters of the lake aboard the fishing boats, which will illustrate the territory by telling you about the numerous legends that revolve around the lake, such as the one according to which in its abyss there is an entire city that was later sunk to an earthquake.
- in Via Fortino; 23 min drive from Messina - Get directions
- always accessible
- free; excursion on Lake Ganzirri starting from € 80,00 (max 4 people)
What to see in Messina in one day: recommended itinerary
Once disembarked at the Port of Messina, stop for breakfast at Antica Pasticceria Irrera 1910.
The first stop on the tour is the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani Church. Now stroll towards one of the most important places in the city, or Piazza Duomo where the splendid Fountain of Orione rises and where you can visit the beautiful Protometropolitan Cathedral Basilica, also visiting the Cathedral Treasury and climbing the Cathedral Bell Tower, where the famous Astronomical Clock is kept.
Stop for lunch at Salotto Fellini where you can taste something typical, and then head to the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, sit in one of the many bars and have a good coffee. The next stop is the evocative Shrine of Christ the King, an erected monument where once the Castle of Messina dominated, now destroyed. Continue your walk until you reach Villa Mazzini until you reach Piazza d'Italia, where one of the other majestic fountains of Messina stands, the Fountain of Neptune.
Dine close to the sea in the Marina del Nettuno restaurant and finish the day walking on the small port, the part of the old port of Messina.
One day itinerary at a glance
- Breakfast at Antica Pasticceria Irrera 1910 - Get directions
- Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani Church - opening hours: every day from 8: 00/10: 30 - ticket price: free
- Protometropolitan Cathedral Basilica - every day from 7: 30-19: 00 - ticket price: free
- Treasury of the Cathedral: Tue-Sat 11: 00-13: 00 - ticket price: € 4,00
- Campanile del Duomo: every day 11: 00-13: 00 - ticket price: € 4,00
- Lunch at Salotto Fellini - Get directions
- Sacrario di Cristo Re - opening hours: 9: 00-12: 30 - ticket price: free
- Villa Mazzini - opening hours: Mon-Fri 8: 00/20: 00 - ticket price: free
- Fountain of Neptune - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
- Dinner at Marina del Nettuno Restaurant - Get directions
- Messina harbor - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
Where to eat in Messina: the best restaurants
- La Tonnara Restaurant: restaurant specializing in fish-based cuisine
Average price per person: € 30,00
Address and contacts: Via Santa Maria Alemanna, 28/34 (Get directions) / tel: 0906409380
- The Sicilian: restaurant in the center with typical dishes and pizzeria
Average price per person: € 25,00
Address and contacts: Via G. Garibaldi, 112 (Get directions) / tel: 090712852
- La Sirena: restaurant offering only local fish based cuisine, located on Lake Ganzirri
Average price per person: € 35,00
Address and contacts: Via Lago Grande, 96 (Get directions) / tel: 090391268
What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Messina
Messina is a city very busy with tourists, but not only, in fact it is also a university city among its historic streets, near the Lighthouse and near the sea, you can choose between a rich variety of clubs and lounge bars, where you can enjoy excellent aperitifs or listen to live music. As for discos, it is better to move to areas where nightlife is now a key element of the territory, as is the case with cult stops such as Taormina.
The best pubs, clubs and discos
- The Aperitif: ideal place to have an aperitif enjoying excellent cocktails and listening to live music / Address: Via T. Cannizzaro, 192, (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Retronouveau Messina: venue specialized in concerts by national and international artists / Address: Via Croce Rossa, 33 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- The Giara Taormina: cult nightclub of the place, meeting place for dance / house music lovers / Address: Vico La Floresta, 1 (Get directions) / Facebook page
Plan your stay in Messina: info and useful tips
- depending on the part of Italy from which you come, to get to Messina it is possible to travel on board trains, ferries, planes that land at the airports of Catania, Palermo and Trapani, or by car, arriving near Villa San Giovanni in Reggio Calabria from where the ferries leave
- Getting around: Messina can be visited on foot, many points of interest are located in the center, however it is possible to rent a car to move around the surroundings, such as Capo Perolo and Lake Ganrizzi, or using means of transport such as city buses and trains.
- Where to park: Cavallotti Parking is a fairly cheap parking area, the daily rate is € 2,50; in the center, however, we find the La Farina car park spread over two levels, rate € 1,00 per hour
- Hotel and b & b starting from € 36,00 per room -
- What to see in the surroundings: Milazzo, with its castle and the islands of Stromboli, Lipari and Vulcano (39 km), the beautiful town of Taormina (53,3 km), and the boundless Etna Park (97 km)