Messina: An Easy Day Trip from Central Calabria

Messina Travel Messina: An Easy Day Trip from Central Calabria

The other day I was sitting in the office at our bed and breakfast, going through posts and comments and brainstorming ideas for this week’s posts.

“Messina,” I thought. “I should write about Messina.”

It’s an easy day trip from Calabria and since most non Italian-Americans hear more about Sicily than Calabria, it might be interesting to my readers.

And then, a light went off.

We have one of our most loyal guests-a pharmaceutical sales rep named Maria-who is from Messina and who is staying at our B&B right now. I’ll chat with her over breakfast, run my list of Messina travel attractions by her and ask for recommendations on bars and rusticherie.

And so I did.

Located just three kilometers from the toe of the mainland through the Straits, Messina is the gateway to la Sicilia and is the first stop for travelers who reach the island via Calabria.

Its unsettling past of plague and earthquakes does little to help this port town and most travelers rush through Messina en-route to more enticing (read: popular) tourist destinations.

But they might be missing out.

Messina Travel Duomo Messina: An Easy Day Trip from Central Calabria

Messina’s Norman Duomo was built around 1150, but was consecrated under the Swabians at the end of the century. The Catalan-Gothic portal and marble inlay inside the Cathedral were reconstructed after centuries of destruction from earthquakes and fires using original material, while the treasury contains religious artifacts, including a monstrance and host from the 1600s.

The pre-Baroque Orion Fountain, built in 1547 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli sits in the piazza outside the church. The highlight of the day, however, is the bell tower’s literal show and dance, where the lion roars, the rooster squawks and the processional of saints reenact a historical event-all inside the largest astronomical clock in the world. You can read details of the event here.

Messina Trvel Church Messina: An Easy Day Trip from Central Calabria

The 12th Century Church of Annunziata dei Catalani isn’t far from the Duomo and features architectural work from the late Norman period alongside powerful Arab designs-reflective of the many cultures that occupied this seaside city.

Messina Travel City Hall Messina: An Easy Day Trip from Central Calabria

Messina’s municipio-or city hall-is one of the prettiest buildings in the city and the Fountain of Neptune and church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni are also worth a look.

For the best rustici in town-at least according to Maria-head to Famulari on Via Cesare Battisti or Bar Irrera on Viale Boccetta.

Perhaps one of the most enticing things about Messina, at least for those of us in Calabria, is the ease at which we can get there. It is just an easy hour and a half train ride from Lamezia and most of the city’s highlights are centered in the downtown area, making it easy to visit the sights, fill up on rustici and get back to Calabria before dusk.

Have you been to Messina? What are some of your favorite things to see or do?

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan the trip of a lifetime.


The Record (Bergen County, NJ) July 24, 2003

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) 07-24-2003 INSIDE / OUTSIDE Date: 07-24-2003, Thursday Section: HOME Edtion: All Editions.=.Two Star B. Two Star P. One Star B Column: INSIDE / OUTSIDE PAINT IN A POUCH: Portland, Ore.-based artist and color consultant Gretchen Schauffler sees no reason why shopping for paint shouldn’t be as fun as shopping for lipstick.

So her paint company, Devine Color, makes paint you can sample for about $3.75 each in minipouches that look like trial-size cosmetics.

Her simple idea has been a smash. The 2-ounce packets, displayed in swiveling carousels, will cover an area about 4 square feet. Consumers who have trouble picking paint colors can thus avoid a garage littered with barely used quarts of peony pink or Navajo white.

Schauffler developed her own line of paint in 2001 with a regional manufacturer. Her palette of 128 rich, dusky hues – formulated to be a bit thicker than most paints, with a yogurt-like consistency – was inspired by what she calls the color-challenged winters in the Pacific Northwest. Colors carry names like Devine Pine and Devine Fog. The products are now carried in 250 stores nationally, including Ricciardi Brothers stores in North Jersey, and through www.devine Information: (503) 675-9519.

- The Washington Post *** GLIMPSE IN 3-D: Seems there are software programs for just about everything. Even home remodeling. The new CD-ROM 3D Home Design Suite Professional 5 lets users design, decorate, budget, and visualize home improvement projects on the computer. Offering a comprehensive list of materials and working within an individual budget, the program even estimates further expenditures.

So if you’re thinking of remodeling the kitchen, building a new garden, updating windows, replacing the roof, installing a new driveway, or creating a dream house from scratch, the program will help you plan it all. It even allows you to see how the landscape will look during each season and after many years.

The 3D Home Design Suite Professional 5 CD-ROM retails for $89.99 and is available at, through, or at electronics stores. Call (800) 395-0277 for more information.

- The Baltimore Sun *** This week’s question Q. Why does mulch sometimes smell sour? Does that mean it’s bad? go to web site how to install a ceiling fan

Mulch can develop a sour smell if it’s composted improperly. When pockets of low oxygen and high moisture remain in a pile of composting mulch, gases or alcohols can build up that are toxic to many plants.

Sour mulch gives off a smell like vinegar, ammonia, sulfur, or silage, but homeowners often become desensitized to the odor in minutes, said Harry Hoitink, a professor of plant pathology at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster Township, Ohio. If the mulch is applied to beds, plants such as tulips and annuals can be damaged or killed overnight or even quicker.

It’s best to return the mulch to the place where you bought it, Hoitink said. If you can’t, you can try spreading the mulch out for a day or two to let the toxins dissipate. If you’ve already applied sour mulch, however, there’s little point in removing it. The toxins work fast, but they also dissipate fast.

- Knight Ridder News Service *** ON THE SHELF: An excerpt from “Mary Gilliatt’s Complete Room by Room Decorating Guide” (Watson-Guptill, $35):

“Quite apart from the fact that a small room benefits enormously from a lot of mixed pattern, detail, and richness of color, you will find, surprisingly, that quite large pieces of furniture sometimes make the space seem larger rather than smaller. I am not talking about huge pieces of upholstery, but a judiciously chosen and placed tall armoire, a large painting or mirror, and an oversized plant can all add to the illusion of volume.” – Scripps Howard News Service *** Calendar * Rutgers Gardens in New Brunswick plans an open house 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. In addition to tours of the gardens, there will be gardening lectures, children’s activities, plant sales, and food sales. Free admission; voluntary parking donation. Information: (732) 932-8451; go to website how to install a ceiling fan

* Home Depot stores nationwide plan a round of women-only how-to clinics Monday. Women of all skill levels are invited to participate in these free workshops: How to Lay Ceramic Tile, 6:30 p.m.; How to Install a Ceiling Fan, 7:15 p.m.; How to Apply Faux Paint Techniques, 8 p.m. To register, visit a Home Depot or * Discovery Channel’s “Surprise by Design,” which does home makeovers while the “surprisee” is away for the day, is planning to film episodes in the New Jersey-New York area. If you have a loved one or friend you’d like to nominate, submit an application at The application includes instructions on submitting a video for consideration. Subjects must reside within 1 1/2 hours of Manhattan.

* The Bradley Beach Antiques and Collectibles Show is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 on the Ocean Avenue Promenade. A professional appraiser will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission to the show tent is free; $5 for one appraisal and $10 for three. Information: (732) 946-2711.

* The 3M Co. is sponsoring a room makeover contest. The winner will receive a visit from designer Genevieve Gorder of “Trading Spaces,” and $5,000 to implement her suggestions. Entrants must submit a short essay and photos of the room to be redesigned. Deadline is Aug. 15. For complete set of rules, visit * The Scotts Co. seeks nominations for its fourth annual Give Back to Grow awards program, recognizing individuals who contribute to their communities through gardening. Four first-place winners and eight national finalists will receive cash prizes totaling $50,000. Nominations are available at or by calling (800) 551-5971. Deadline is Dec. 5.

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  1. Just some of my favourites:

    Not far from the Duomo is the Galleria di Vittorio Emmanuele II (like those in Maples and Milan) which has recently been renovated and worth a quick look.

    If you are a gelato fan the best place is called ‘PERIGOLOSO’ (word play on dangerous + greedy). Serving sizes are massive and they have a huge selection. It’s so good there are now about 3 or 4 branches throughout the city, incl one opposite the municipio and one in Piazza Carioli (centre city).

    Also the museum is pretty good(at annuziata – take the tram heading north from ferry ports/ train station and it’s at the end of the line) has all teh treasures rescued from the earthquakes.

    Continue heading north along the coast from the museum and you come to the litoranea – around 7kms of sandy beaches to the tip of Sicily and the Capo Peloro nature reserve where there are 2 salt water lakes.

    Awesome. Thanks so much, V! That’s insider information, people.


  2. Hi!
    I just googled trying to figure out how to get across to Messina from Calabria, and your site turned up. You mentioned it is an easy day trip, but I don’t see how to do it.

    My needs are actually a little more complicated. My husband is being dropped off a sailboat in Vibo Valentia, and needs to make it to Palermo for a flight. I’ve finally figured out the Trenitalia site, and the trip requires several changes from fast train, to ferry, to slower train, etc. What I can’t figure out, is are these transfers easy. In particular, is the train station right at the ferry terminal in Messina? It isn’t clear at all! Help!

    In addition, where is your B&B? My husband will have a night or two before his flight on Saturday, 26 Sept.


    I sent you an email about this … hope you received it.


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