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The province of Messina sits at the northeastern tip of Sicily’s Ionian coast and just a few miles from the Italian mainland. The impossibly narrow stretch of water dividing the two has gone down in Greek myth as the point where the twin monsters of Charybdis and Scylla clash but in reality the dangerous currents are caused by a fault line that led to a devastating earthquake in 1908 and is related to the towering presence of Mount Etna nearby. Messina includes in its embrace the beach delights and idyllic rural scenery of the Aeolian Islands, romantically ruined hill towns and mountains perfect for viewpoints and hiking.
Messina - Almost literally a stone’s throw from the mainland the city of Messina offers an impressive centre with gracious, wide boulevards and elegant turn-of-the-century buildings. Check out the cathedral, one of Sicily's finest, and do not miss the local swordfish which locals travel to the city for from all over the island.
Taormina - Sicily’s favourite resort perches high on Mount Tauro and seeps down two bays to reach the waters below. The backdrop of Mount Etna adds a thrill to the relaxed beach life, narrow alleys, crumbling castles and the palaces that fringe the intimate piazzas. The Teatro Greco has attracted travellers throughout history, including Goethe and D.H. Lawrence, and when you take in the views from it you will understand why.
Giardini-Naxos - You can escape the summer crowds at Taormina here: the beach is roomier and the seas are better for swimming. The area is also home to excavations that have uncovered buildings from one of the the first settlements on the coast in 734 BC.
Monti Peloritani - Cutting south from the city of Messina this mountain range offers hiking opportunities, spectacular viewpoints and peaceful hill-villages, such as Savoca with its Cappuccini monastery, ruined castle and clusters of houses sitting pretty in the clouds.
Things to See in the Province of Messina
The brooding presence of Mount Etna in the distance makes every vista rather unique whether you are dining on the coast, relaxing on an island, exploring in the city or hiking in the mountains. The ancient Teatro Greco in Taormina is an inspiring sight in itself, but it too is enhanced by the volcanic backdrop. The Aeolian Islands are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offer natural beauty graced by traditional cubed houses bedecked in vines and trailing flowers, built using indigenous building materials—stone, lava, pumice and tufo - and painted in pastel hues.
Hiking in the mountainous interior can be tough going but endlessly rewarding. Down on the bays watersports and sunbathing are the order of the day whilst in the city of Messina there is fantastic swordfish to be sampled. And, of course, beckoning forever in the distance is a trip to Mount Etna.