Messina is a transit place, a city where almost every testimony of the rich past has been completely destroyed by the terrific earthquake of 1908 and the Second World War air raids. Nevertheless, there are some monuments that deserve a visit, like the Dome (open Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 19 pm, and Sunday from 7.30 am to 13 pm and from 16.00 to 19.30 pm), and the Regional Museum.
They are both symbols of a city that survived its greatest catastrophes of the 21st century. The Dome is a faithful reconstruction of the cathedral built under the reign of Ruggero II in the XII century, whereas the Museum hosts numerous works which were saved from the rubble of the earthquake. Today Messina is a modern and chaotic city, as opposed to the more tranquil inland, characterized by timeless villages set between the hills and the Peloritani mountains, or by the seaside resorts of the north coast, like Ganzirri or Punta del Faro, very crowded in summer but always worth of visit, especially if you fancy some great fish. The beaches south of Messina include less famous seaside resorts, though always very crowded.
Taormina is another extremely crowded enchanting place, and it represents a must for any visitor coming to Sicily, if only for a short daily excursion. First of all for its position, lying on a natural terrace overlooking the two gorgeous bays and the rugged landscape made of rocks, sea and vegetation.
Another pearl of Taormina is the Greek Theatre, a supreme structure built on a hill side from where one can enjoy a breathtaking view of Calabria, the coast and the top of the volcano. Actually most of the theatre ruins have Roman origin.
It was built by the Greek in the III century b.c., and was entirely rebuilt at the end of the 1st century, during a period of wealth and prosperity of the city, which was under the Roman empire. The theatre is best visited in the early morning or short before its closure time, and also during the numerous performances that take place every summer on the occasion of the Art Festival.
Sleeping in Taormina is generally very expensive, therefore if you wish to stay more days in town you should consider to lodge in one of the seaside resorts nearby, which are much cheaper. For example Giardini Naxos, which lies only 15 minutes from Taormina. This is the first Greek colony in Sicily to date (populated by Greek people coming from the Greek Island of Naxos), and the archaeological site set amidst the lemon trees is what remains of this ancient past. The site is today a seaside resort, with a beautiful but private and quite expensive beach. At least the accomodations in Giardini Naxos are much more affordable than in Taormina.
If a tranquil vacation far from the chaos of Giardini Naxos is what you look for, then the panoramic road that takes inland is ideal for you. This scenic road crosses the luxurious and fertile Alcantara Valley, with orange trees, olive trees and wild flowers, and the homonymous river running through it.
Going southward you will reach the foothills of the volcano, while proceeding along the shore a long crowded shore stretches out until the city of Catania.
- Summer opening hours:
- every day: 09:00 am-19:00 pm
- Winter opening hours:
- every day: 09:00 am-16:00 pm
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