Day 74 – Messina, Sicily

This is the second of the two ports which were added to replace our canceled stop in Egypt, and is the second of our string of 7 ports in 7 days.

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Messina is at the northeast corner of the island of Sicily just a few miles from the tip of the boot of Italy. During World War II, Sicily was the first point of invasion by the Allied troops as they began to regain Europe from the Germans. The British under Montgomery landed in the south and were to take Messina in the northeast. The Americans under Patton, who hated Montgomery, landed in the south and were to take Palermo in the northwest. To spite Montgomery, Patton drove quickly to the north, took Palermo, and then drove east to Messina, took it, and had a welcoming band set up in the city square to greet Montgomery as he finally reached Messina. It is one of the great scenes in the movie “Patton”.

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Sicily is also famed for being the home of the Mafia and there are godfather t-shirts with Don Corleone’s picture on them in every shop.

This port also produced our first disappointment with the Hop On bus – it was a single decker, older equipment, open air (it is cold today) and the sound equipment didn’t work. No matter – we used it for transportation and took a loop around Messina, which doesn’t take long – it is pretty small.

Here are some shots from around Messina.

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This shot shows the harbor of Messina, with the mainland of Italy across the Strait of Messina.

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After “hopping off” we teamed up with two of our tablemates who needed to replenish some supplies, as did we, and found a supermarket and did a little shopping. In many places on this trip it is difficult to find what we would call a supermarket. Most “markets” around the world are fresh food markets, not at all like our supermarkets which sell everything from food to liquor to household goods. You won’t find detergent in them. If you ask a local for a supermarket, you will likely be directed to a store about the size of a 7-11, with about the same inventory. That was the case here in Messina, but it had what we all needed. We then made our way to the main square.

Every day at noon, the elaborate clock mechanism in this church tower does about a fifteen-minute performance.

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The process begins with the Lion at the top. Emitting loud roars and waving the flag he is holding. This is followed by the rooster crowing, and then, through an intricate process, the Christ figure rises from the tomb and ascends to the upper level, where he raises his arms and a series of figures (saints, disciples?) pass in front of him. Reportedly it is an extremely complex mechanism – I would really like to know when it was built and would like to see the workings. I am sure the lions roar and the roosters crow are not too old – as they are recordings played through an amplifier.

While the show was going on, we enjoyed coffee and cannoli’s in the square.

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Having had dessert, we decided to find a place for lunch and found a little place between the church and the waterfront. It had outside tables, but we persuaded the owner to turn on the gas heater which made it quite cozy. It also had excellent fast free wi-fi, which is a real plus at the prices charged on the ship.

Best of all, this place had cold beer and delicious pizza and the bill for the four of us for 2 pizzas and 8 beers was less than the cannoli’s on the square.

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They make really great pizza in this country!

This statue marks the entry to the harbor, as we sail out, headed for Sorrento, Italy.

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