Wednesday, July 1, 2009


MESSINA SICILY – 3 May 2009 Sicily, of course, is the football being kicked by the “boot” of Italy on a map of Europe. Messina is the part of Sicily closest to the toe of the boot and is separated from Calabria by the Straits of Messina which are only about 5 miles wide. The area is know for high winds and strong currents. Here is Clyde looking across. We had a brief tour in the morning that took us into some nearby suburbs and ended in the main square by the cathedral. We stopped along the way for a granita for me (a kind of lemon slushie) and a cappuchino for Mary. Messina has had a long string of invaders and conquerors – Greeks, French, Arabs, etc. The main cathedral dates back to the Normans and was mostly reconstructed after an earthquake around 1900 destroyed Messina. The clock tower was a present from the French people after the quake and is the worlds largest mechanical clock they say. See pics below. We included a couple video clip too – A short one showing the inside of the cathedral. I didn't narrate it since a Sunday service was underway in the front of the church. I wanted to show a clip showing the clock striking noon – a lion roars, a rooster crows, Jesus rises from the dead, there is a parade of angels and saints; the cycle of life is illustrated – all part of the clock – and everything moves verrrrry slowly. But the video was too long --- 11 minutes. A crowd of several hundred people had assembled in the piazza to view it.
This fountain was also in the square and was carved by Michelangelos top assistant. This is Messina’s original church and you can see how far below street level it is – the rubble from the earthquake and WWII bombardments raised the overall street level. We had a lunch of Sicilian pizza (not much open on Sunday but there was wine of course) and later stopped for some gelato. Clyde likes espresso flavor. A major claim to fame for Messina is a visit by St Paul in which he brought a letter to the people of Messina from the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of the Letter is honored by a large gilded bronze statue at the entrance to Messina’s harbor.