Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Again the weather was against us. It was awfully windy, so one more time it would've been dangerous for the tenders to transport us ashore had we anchored off the coast. So we docked in Messina, the third largest city on the island of Sicily, located at the North -East corner, at the Strait of Messina. We would get back to it after our visit to Taormina.
The road connecting the two cities was winding and had many tunnels. The views along the way were indescribable. The streets of the city were narrow and steep, as the city is built right on the sides of the mountains. We walked all over after the taxicab left us to explore on our own
Very soon we decided to look for the main attraction of the town, the Teatro Greco, or Greek Theater, constructed in 300 B.C. Nowadays it still provides its visitors with a number of performances. Pat & I walked all over it, marveling at how well preserved it was, and admiring the view of Mount Etna, framed by the stage ruins.
We then decided to go back to town and find our driver. Along the way we were treated to some wonderful panoramic views. We saw some more parts of the city and met the famous carabinieri. (policemen)
Back in Messina we drove by the shrine of Christ the King and some other ubiquitous churches. Pat & I posed on top of some battlements.
Very soon we were in the center of town, where the Campanile (Tower) of the Duomo (Cathedral), stood. We were just in time for the Astrological Clock demonstration.
It was not quite noon yet, so Pat & I went inside the Duomo and admired the marble statues that lined its walls. It's amazing how well they have been restored after the earthquake of 1909. One shudders to think it might happen again. We also visited the Fountain of Orion, with allegoric figures of the four rivers, Tiber, Nile, Ebro, and Camaro, surrounded by shells and other decorative elements. Other statues were nearby.
The Astrological Clock has a mechanism dating from1933. It consist of several layers, each with a different display endowed with a separate movement. At the bottom, a two horse chariot sets the days of the week; above, the central figure of Death looks at the four ages of man that pas before him. At the third stage there are figures which represent the Nativity, Epiphany, Resurrection, and Pentecost, according to the time of the year. It is a marvelous example of the workmanship of the days.
As we left the harbor we saw an islet with a huge monument of the Virgin Mary, with an inscription on its base that proclaims "Vos et ipsam civitatem bendecimus" (We bless you and your city), a quotation from a letter that, according to the legend, Mary gave to the Christians of the city. We said "Good bye" to Sicily a we got ready for our next adventure in Kotor, Montenegro.