Madonna della Lettera isn’t the only interesting thing to see in the port city of Messina, but she makes her presence known throughout the town, as evidenced in one of the more charming city attractions.
The Bell Tower of the Cathedral contains the most complex mechanical clock in the world, and it shows off it’s stuff every day at noon for tourists in caravan buses, locals striding by, and an overwhelming, if not disproportionate, number of gray and white stooping pigeons.
After finding an unclaimed seat on a bench on the opposite side of the piazza, the untrained tourist won’t know what to expect. We were lucky. We had Vanessa, who although she remains blogless, is a frequent commenter on both of our sites.
We were prepared.
At 12:00, the church bells ring (as they do every hour and every quarter hour) by two, ten foot bronze statues representing the heroines of the Sicilian Vespers war, Dina and Clarenza.
Immediately following the chimes, the bell tower comes to life. The lion, in all of his 13-feet of gilded bronze glory, waves his flag, wags his tail, turns his head to face the piazza, and roars three times. Here, he was caught mid-roar!
As if awakened by the mighty lion, the rooster, who sits patiently between the two heroines, flaps his wings, raises his head, and crows three times. However, he was a little malato during our visit, and we barely got a croak.
But, we got it three times.
An angel then delivers the famous letter to the Virgin Mary. She is greeted by Saint Paul, who is followed by the Messinese ambassadors, who each bow in reverence as they pass her.
Throughout this poignant presentation, Ave Maria is blaring throughout the square, in an intense, yet, humbling demonstration of Messina’s rich history, strength, and perseverance. It is truly a must-see for any visitor and was worth the 6:00 AM wake-up call needed to get us there on time. No visit to Messina is complete without it.