The Ding Dong, The Lion’s Roar and Ave Maria

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.

12 Responses
  1. bleeding espresso

    Man I’m so bummed about my camera all over again! Great description of the events; I’m linking to you now πŸ™‚

  2. Cherrye

    Michelle, i will send you my pics, so at least you’ll have something… πŸ™ Dang batteries! What am I gonna do with you and my sis??

    Erin – it was REALLY neat! I’d have liked to see it again, but I couldn’t wait 24 hours, ya know??

  3. j

    WOW, that’s as good a show as the other Madonna!

    Did you try to read the link about the two heroines? It’s in “Englian”!

  4. marina

    WOW!!love your post on Madonna!!
    Can I ask you since you love coffice and I do too wnat you like to drink the most? and is the coffee there different? than america?
    Thank you my son is doing welll now he got over it and got well thank God.
    And, my husband said I could get someone to help me with the certians after he saw the Mess!!
    Thank God. I am not one of these women that can fix everything around the house, I just can clean and strighten out that is it,no more no less..LOL!!
    Keep writing about your life in Italy,just love it !! marina

  5. Cherrye

    J – it is a great show. There are other little parts of the clock that change according to the hour of the day or the day of the week, or the season. It is very neat! We couldn’t go up inside that day…maybe next time! (I did read it…ha ha)

    Marina – Congrats on your new curtain-help! I didn’t think you did too poorly, though! My favorite coffee is probably (from the bars) is something called caffe bacio. It is a shot of espresso, with the foam from a cappuccino. But, it is much smaller than a cappuccino, so it is stronger. At most of the bars, they add chocolate on top. I just had one last week! My favorite brand that we use in our machine at the B&B is called Aiello. It is made in Cosenza – about 40 minutes from Catanzaro.

    NYC – Def add it to your list. Messina was a cute town. Did you see Michelle’s post yesterday? She mentions other “must-sees”.

    Maryann-why you are welcome! I hope you get to see it someday!

  6. BrineS

    Wow! This reminds me of the famous glockenspiel in Munich. We raced to the square to see the presentation…of which I almost missed by getting a separated from my group while buying a rose from a street vendor.

  7. Cher & Gene Klosner

    I’mtaking notes on all of this – I have two sibs going to Italy this summer…This is breathtaking!!
    Cher –

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