Messina Town, Sicily
On the Strait of Messina
Photos by Gertrude Meyer
Sunday, May 1, 2005
6:55 AM ~ The freighter Fatamorgana glides into port from the Strait of Messina.
The Italian mainland appears as a shadow in the background.
The opening of the strait on the north is only about a mile wide!
Madonna della Lettera
With modern spot lights to guide mariners in the night, Our Lady of the Holy Letter,
patron saint of Messina, extends her hand blessing the port.
Small Boat Harbor
Ancient Zancle (so-called for the sickle shape of its harbor) existed as a native Sicilian settlement before the arrival of the Greeks in 756 BC. Expanded to form a thriving port city during the Greek colonization of Sicily, Messina remained prominent for centuries. The Romans recognized its strategic importance. To the Saracens, who never controlled much of Calabria, it was the northern and eastern limit of a Muslim dominion. To the Normans, Messina was an essential foothold in their conquest of the island during the eleventh century.
Beautiful Church Commands The Hill.
Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani – A short way from the Duomo, this church rises behind via Garibaldi, among fine noble palazzi. It was built in the 12th century during the Norman rule and remodelled in the following century and named after the Catalan merchants who patronised it later. The apse is a fine specimen of the Norman composite style, that combined Roman (with small blind arches on slender columns), Moorish (geometrical motifs in polychrome stone) and Byzantine features (dome on a drum).
Campanile of the Cathedral
We'll see more on the famous campanile (bell tower) later.
In mythology, Scylla and Carybdis threatened the intrepid Odysseus at the Strait of Messina, which Hercules swam and the Argonauts sailed. And when Artemis changed Arethusa into a spring of water to escape the river god Alpheus, the beautiful maiden emerged on the island of Ortygia, in Syracuse, where a spring bears her name.
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