Saturday, April 14, 2012

12Apr Messina, Italy

1908 Tsunami destroyed whole town of Messina, northern eastern tip of island of Sicily.
It is home of the second most active volcanic mountain in the world and it is Mt. Etna.
Our ship arrived in Messina a little bit earlier than its schedule which was 10am.
We have booked 4 hour Sicilian winery tour located on Mt. Etna which doesn’t start until 1pm.
As soon as our ship docked at the pier, we got off the ship and started strolling around the beautiful city of Messina.
We were particularly enjoying the feeling of lost in narrow lane ways in old town as no previous study of map was done.
But, it was another nice surprise and we loved it as we found this place with lots of charms and tourist attractions.

It was about an hour bus drive from Messina to Mt. Etna.
Lovely town Taormina was in the half way and it will be our next visit if we are lucky enough to revisit Sicily.
It was scenic drive through the coast built on rugged mountains and hill sides.
We were very impressed with bus driver who managed to go around narrow streets built in few centuries ago on mountain villages.
The bus drove all the way to middle of Mt. Etna as high as we could go up.
Smoke is coming out of the peak continuously and sometimes black steam is erupting out of the peak.
Tour guide pointed out to us a hillside with lava and magma that formed a river as if it was black glacier.
He suggested us to collect black lava stone as souvenir of Mt. Etna if we want to and added jokingly it is not considered to bring a bad luck.
Higher than 3,300 meters tall, Mt. Etna has also one of the largest flora and fauna in the world from tropical palm tree to chestnut tree in its mineral rich soil.
It is interesting that nearly 30% of honey produced to Europe comes from Sicily.
It was eerie feeling that we could hear loud roaring and rumbling sound like we were in war zone.
This active volcanic mountain was constantly making bomb-like noise at the same time with spewing gas, smoke and steam.
Another 10 minute drive down the hill, we found the winery Estate San Michele.
They make very good sparkling wine, red and white wine which we all have taste with beautiful Pecorino cheese, prosciutto and olive.

Port of Messina, Sicily

Tower of Madona is overlooking the port. It is supposed to be a miracle that this Latin letter was from Madona to delegates from Messina few hundred years ago.

World War I memorial stands tall in the middle of old city of Messina to remember the war as this place was bombarded and destroyed again during the war.

Beautiful Messina city hall building

Inside the Cathedral with magnificent statues with colorful art work of the ceiling.

Main plaza in front of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral with clock tower

The clock tower performs show every day at noon
Hundreds of tourists gathered to watch the show from the clock tower

High court backyard with big Banyan tree

Italian espresso was so good at this café in Messina

Town’s specialty, colorfully decorated horse carriage

Mt. Etna

Lava was flowing through the hill side

At the San Michele winery

Mt. Etna overlooks the village and the winery

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