Messina is the third-largest city on the island of Sicily, and it displays Sicilian culture and influence like no other city nearby. While on your Messina cruise, you’ll see that Sicily contains a magic and mystery unlike any other destination in Italy. Both cosmopolitan and rugged, island life here offers a fascinating combination of fishing communities, tiny towns, and beachy resorts. Messina, Taormina, and the surrounding areas on the northeast corner of the island are particularly mesmerizing, whether you’re off sailing the picturesque Strait of Messina or climbing the summit of Monte Scuderi
On an Italy cruise to Messina, there are quite a few experiences that other destinations can’t offer, like tasting an authentic Sicilian cannoli or enjoying Italian coffee bar culture. You could spend an entire day simply touring the historic churches and piazzas that give the city so much local color, like the mythology-rich Fountain of Neptune or the nearly thousand-year-old Cathedral of Messina. Go sailing or scuba diving in the Ionian Sea while you’re here, or simply sit at a trattoria and people watch over a delicious meal. Messina is meant to be truly enjoyed, not hurried through.
The hilltop town of Taormina outside Messina is a Sicilian village like no other. A multitude of dramatic cliffs and coves make it impossible to see all the natural beauty of Taormina in just a day. The shining jewel is the Isola Bella, an environmentally protected island just off of Taormina’s coast.
Built nearly a thousand years ago by the Normans, the Cathedral of Messina is a must-see for travelers who want to understand the history of the city and the cultural significance of this sight. In Italy, all great churches tell a story, and the Cathedral of Messina is famous for its automatic bell tower.
The Fountain of Neptune in the center of Messina tells the mythological story of the god Neptune and the resilience of the city after it faced several earthquakes and natural disasters. It’s worth a quick walk over to admire its sheer scale and how well kept the fountain is.
Craving a stretch of your sea legs? The challenging hike to the summit of Monte Scuderi promises incredible views of the Strait of Messina and the coast of Calabria in the near distance.
The Strait of Messina connects Calabria and Sicily. Take a boat ride along the strait, admiring the blues of the cool Ionian sea and views of Torre Faro. There are plenty of chances for snorkeling and scuba diving, too.
Take a trip to the top of this massive lighthouse, which has been in existence since 1884, and enjoy a beautiful view of Messina and the sea below.
The cannoli is a local art form that started in the Sicilian town of Palermo and now enjoys worldwide acclaim. You can’t fully experience a Messina cruise without enjoying one (or several) cannolis during your vacation. It’s practically a rite of passage.
Sicilians take their cuisine seriously. Cooking in the Sicilian home is an all-day affair and a display of close family life. The preparation of the region’s culinary delights offers just as much enjoyment of the food itself. Cannolis are a must-try dessert, which originated in the Sicilian town of Palermo on the other side of the island. Don’t leave Messina without enjoying a granita, a frozen dessert that’s the only antidote to a sweltering hot day in Messina. Grab a brioche for breakfast, and finish the evening with a tall glass of red wine and a seafood pasta locally fished from the bay.
Messina may not be as well known as Florence or Rome, but it possesses an age-old spirit that has endured despite centuries of occupations, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. During World War II, the area suffered from bombings and razings at the hands of German forces. Over the course of centuries, the tragedies affecting Messina didn’t dampen the spirit of its residents. Today, Messina cruise passengers don’t see the city’s dark past. Instead, tourism and its strategic port location have buoyed the town through many storms, and it continues to grow in population.
Messina is easy to see on foot, but there are also free shuttle buses to take you to destinations further off the beaten path. You can hail a taxi at the taxi stand within the port. At the tender port for Messina cruises, you can grab a cold drink, but otherwise there are minimal amenities here.
After your ship docks at the Port of Messina, it’s easy to walk to major attractions and sights in this part of Sicily. A little under a mile’s walk away is a train station, which is frequently used by locals to get to neighboring towns. There’s also a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus you can take to see as much of the area as possible. Otherwise, taxis can be hailed from the Messina cruise port.
Most of the shopping and eateries will be found in town rather than near the Messina cruise port. Neighboring Taormina has many of the area’s shopping outlets, while the weekend markets in Messina attract a lot of local buzz. The popular Piazza Cairoli is full of designer fashions and artisanal boutiques.
When traveling on cruises to Messina, you’ll use the euro as the official currency. It’s recommended you carry a bit of cash whenever you’re in Italy, because some merchants prefer it and won’t accept credit cards. Having enough euros to buy a meal or a coffee during your travels is considered best practice. There are plenty of ATMs, called bancomats, scattered around here.