The city of the strait

Messina, the "Città dello Stretto" is the natural landing place for tourists who disembark in Sicily from the rest of the Peninsula. The city, in fact, constitutes the privileged bridge between the island and the rest of the continent. The original name of Messina is that of "Zancle" which means "sickle", and refers to the shape of the natural port of the city (and even today a nearby town is called Scaletta Zanclea, that is "of Messina"). The city changed its name in 490 BC when the condottieri Anàssila of Messene, decides to rename it with the name of the place from which it came. Later it became Messana with the Romans, Msna with the Arabs and finally the current name. Messina, the "door of Sicily", is appreciated in Italy also for the marvelous natural and historical beauties that it preserves in its territory. Like the Duomo of Messina, "Norman jewel", which it preserves at its also a wonderful "surprise" inside: the biggest mechanical clock in the world. Every day since 1933, in fact, at noon and midnight, the clock comes to life by moving the various mechanisms that make it and that create a unique "show" that certainly deserves to be appreciated live. Among the recommended places to visit also the "Sacrario di Cristo Re", from which you can witness a breathtaking view that embraces the whole city, from the sea, to the hills, to the urban beauties. For lovers of entertainment and culture, the city of Messina is also home to a prestigious theater, the Vittorio Emanuele II, and the historic city museum.

Strait of Messina

Strait of Messina (Source: Vito Manzari - CC BY 2.0)

How to reach Messina

By plane

The municipality of Messina, although without its own airport is well connected, through the railway and motorway network with the airports "Falcone Borsellino" of Palermo and the "Vincenzo Florio" of Catania. Recommended also the choice for the "Tito Minniti" airport of Reggio Calabria, through the companies connected with the companies Alitalia, AirMalta. Expected direct connections between Reggio Calabria airport and the city of Messina through buses, shuttles and hydrofoils every 30 minutes. From Catania airport (Fontana Rossa) to Messina, by car, you can reach Messina booking a transfer service (NCC rental with driver) that will pick you up at the arrivals and leave you at the address you want. By bus, the company Sais makes connections direct between the Catania airport and the municipality of Messina. Scheduled trips every 60 minutes from Monday to Sunday from morning to evening. Journey time 1 hour and 50 minutes. From Palermo (Punta Raisi) airport to Messina, by car, you can reach Messina by booking a transfer service (NCC rental with driver) that will pick you up at the arrivals and leave you at the address you want. By bus from the Palermo airport you need to reach the central train station. Recommended bus service of the company Prestia and Comandè . Reached the central train station (adjacent to the bus stop), the "Sais" company carries out the service from Palermo to Messina approximately every 30 minutes.

For information on transfer prices, see our page Messina Transfers - Prices.

By train

From the central station of Messina it is possible to reach the main destinations of the island. The main connections to Palermo and Catania are managed by Ferrovie dello Stato with fast regional routes. From Messina it takes about 3 hours to reach the central station of Palermo and the cost of the ticket is about € 12. For Catania, however, it takes about 2 hours and the cost of the ticket is about € 8. To know in detail the routes, timetables and costs of trains, you can consult the website of Trenitalia.

By car

The municipality of Messina is located in a strategic place and well connected to the main Sicilian locations, in particular Catania and Palermo. From Catania it is possible to reach Messina with different alternative routes. The shortest route (and recommended) passes through the A18 motorway (with toll) Messina exit (about 98 km). From Palermo the town of Messina is 223 km and a journey time of about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

By ship or ferry

Reaching the city of Messina by ferry is a recommended (but also necessary) option for motorists traveling from Calabria. The port of Messina is in fact the natural harbor of the Peninsula and guards the beating heart of the city's economic life. From the pier "Rizzo" of the city "Dello Stretto", along with the ferries to Villa San Giovanni (Calabria), there are direct connections to the ports of Civitavecchia and Salerno offered by the company Caronte Tourist. For the Aeolian archipelago, however, direct connections from the port of Messina offered by the companies Siremar and Ustica Lines. For information on timetables and availability, visit the web pages of the shipping companies.

​​= Walk in the center of Messina

Among the recommended itineraries a city tour and a visit to the coast of the Strait of Messina: from Letojanni to the shores of Mortelle, where you can admire the beautiful landscapes on the border between Sicily and rest of Italy. In the city center, do not miss the Duomo, which stands in the homonymous square, which represents the urbanistic center of Messina and the emblem of the city itself, with the curious clock with allegorical and sacred figures inserted in the bell tower: the "animated" clock built by the watchmaker Ungerer of Strasbourg began to pop from August 1933. Another monument to visit in Messina is the Church of the Annunciation of the Catalans erected in the Norman period; just in front of the basilica stands the dedicated statue of Messinesi to Don Giovanni of Austria (created by Andrea Calametta), to honor the winner of the Battle of Lepanto arrived during the clash right in the port of Messina.