Today we set out to discover new destinations and this time we move to the extreme northern tip of eastern Sicily, to learn about the stories and traditions of the province of Messina.
We drive from Fiumefreddo di Sicilia towards Milazzo and, despite some slowdowns along the way (also we Isolane get lost every now and then), we arrive at our destination where we find Manuela, a tour guide partner of Isolani per caso who, thanks to her tales full of emphasis, will make us experience some of the beauties present in this part of the island.
The first stop of the day is the evocative Castle of Milazzo, the largest in Sicily better known as the Fortified Citadel because it represents one of the few examples of military architecture, made by those who have succeeded in this territory in the last 10 centuries. It stands in the highest part of the Capo Milazzo peninsula, overlooking the ancient village. At our arrival, the doors of the Castle open and we find ourselves catapulted into the past, the castle is currently closed for security reasons, but we manage to visit it with a private tour, thus allowing us to retrace centuries of history.
The Castle of Milazzo, in reality, was not built as a residence of princes and princesses but was used as an important fortress to defend the territory from invaders. A majestic structure, where you can see the various superimpositions of styles linked to the different dominations over the centuries, from the Neolithic age, characterized by a necropolis, to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Swabian domination, Sicilian, Aragonese, Spanish, English vespers up to Napoleon. The castle was also the seat of the ancient Cathedral of Milazzo and of the primitive church of Santa Maria, almost reaching the present day, becoming the seat of a prison. Walking through the streets you can admire control towers, ramparts, and many points of curiosity, including the Sea Museum a real surprise, inside the Bastion of Santa Maria where a sperm whale has been reassembled in its entirety, leaving inside its stomach the plastic that unfortunately contributed to his death: a moment of reflection, in the hope of respecting the environment in which we live more and more.
But like any self-respecting castle, we discover many stories and legends that have created a real aura of mystery around it, which we will not reveal to you!
Most of its walls overlook the splendid sea of Messina and today, kissed by the sun on a clear and cloudless day, we can see the Aeolian Islands, a unique spectacle especially in the eyes of those who are not used to them! The seagulls circle in the sky, the scent of the sea in the air, and the meadows in bloom below make us feel the arrival of spring. Today is also San Giuseppe and from the top of a bastion, we can watch the fireworks at noon in honor of the Saint.
We complete the visit of this suggestive place and we move by car towards Capo Milazzo, along the seafront with a short stop at the lookout where a breathtaking view awaits us and the evocative sanctuary of Sant’Antonio di Padua, a cave carved into the rock. Our guide tells us that according to tradition it was the refuge and home of the Saint and the fishermen.
But the hunger begins to be felt and, Manuela, as a good Sicilian and with the welcome that distinguishes us, invites us for lunch at her place. In a very short time, the table is set and between chatting and a glass of wine, we refresh ourselves with a good plate of pasta with tomato sauce, tuna, and onion, really excellent! A coffee and we are immediately ready to get back on the road.
We arrive in the small village of Roccavaldina and, with great amazement, we manage to visit the sixteenth-century pharmacy located in the town square. Looking with the eyes of little girls as its story is told, we find ourselves immersed in one of the most precious 16th-century pharmaceutical kits in the world. It is really exciting to see how this place has remained intact over time and evokes moments from the past. The display of vases is truly impressive and the decorations unique: the collection is characterized by 238 vases of various shapes and sizes, made in 1580 in Urbino, in Antonio Patanazzi’s workshop, as the writing on the foot of an exhibition amphora.
At the end of the visit to the pharmacy, a quick tour through the streets of the town and then proceed towards the Laghi di Ganzirri, where a fisherman awaits us ready to tell the art of “cucciulari “. Even today, thanks to some young people who have undertaken the ancient trades, mussels and clams are grown for export, using traditional methods. The work of the “cucciulari” is demanding and tiring but the passion with which the fisherman Lillo explains the whole procedure is really exciting and fascinating!
This place is very picturesque, with its pools of water, aquatic vegetation, migratory birds, houses, and restaurants overlooking the lake. At dusk, it seems to be inside a fairy tale. After all, you know… lakes always have something fairytale!
After learning more about the cultivation of clams and the fauna of the lakes, we continue our little journey with a must-see at “Pilone”, a disused pylon that crossed the Strait of Messina between Calabria and Sicily: here, where a beautiful beach dominates, we can witness the meeting of the two seas and it seems almost as if we can touch Calabria. But one thing is certain! This area is always windy and at sunset the lowering of temperatures makes us seem like winter is back! But we do not give up and undeterred we continue to walk and enjoy this splendid view.
The day was really intense and we were able to visit only a small portion of what Messina and the surrounding areas are able to offer. But as always we promise to return for new stages and new discoveries.
Now it’s time to go home and as always we come back full of new emotions and with the desire to start new collaborations.
We are ready for a new experience. … and you?