The cruise ship I am working on is sailing around Sicily which is the largest of the Mediterranean islands located just off the toe of Italy. Today we stopped in Messina which is at the North East of the island and is a short ferry ride to mainland Italy. Massena has a tragic past which includes a disastrous earthquake in 1908, and Allied bombing during the war. Most of the city has been rebuilt, but there are still a lot of beautiful things to see.
This cathedral was built in 1092 and has seen Massena through all its hardship. It is one of the main tourist attractions not only because of its maturity, but because it is home to the largest clock in the world. At 12 noon every day, hundreds of tourists and locals come to see the bell tower as it strikes noon because down the one side of the tower there are a series of figures that perform. The lion at the top of the tower wags its tail, puts its head back and roars. The cock crows and flaps its wings. The two girls move their arms as if they are ringing the bells and the two ambassadors bow. This is something I have never seen before, and it was brilliant to witness. 12 noon is the only time the figures move, for the rest of the day they look like ordinary statues.
Massena city stretches between the Peloritani, and the Botanical gardens are located near the peak. The journey to the garden’s from the port takes a good 20 minutes, and your ears will most certainly pop on the way up. Created in 1943 this is a place of peace and beauty. Many people come to see the flowers and the lush greenery, but the real selling point is the view of Massena you get from the gardens. It is like no other. I spent about 2 hours here, which included a 15-minute stop to take in the city views.
Just so you know, I didn’t do all three of these activities in one day. We docked in Massena a handful of times, so this is what I did over a few days spent here.
The most memorable meal was at a restaurant called “Samuel”. They serve authentic Italian dishes and everything was divine and so flavourful. It is a 10-minute walk from the port, but the best way to direct you is from the Cathedral (Duomo). Imagine you are facing the clock tower, turn to the right and walk straight for about 10 minutes down a shopping street, and at the end of the road, you will find Samuel’s. The address is ‘Via I Settembre, 118, 98122, Messina, ME, Italy’. If you find yourself in Massena, you have to eat here.
The island of Sicily is stunning, and the city of Massena is one of its treasures. Even if you don’t do anything specific, it is a lovely place to wander around and take in all the architectural beauty and try some of the delicious food.