Yesterday I wrote about Paolo Sulfaro who was born in a town called Curcuraci, a village of the city of Messina. Today I want to share my experience in visiting the city of Messina. This is particularly important to me because Messina is actually the home city of my maternal line. At least as far as I have researched.

Maria Fraumeni, daughter of Francesco Giovanni Fraumeni and Mattia Sceglieri was born in Messina on the 22nd of June 1862. Maria’s life is something of a tragedy. While I cannot know her well enough from the records I have found, her life paints a picture of despair that is reminiscent of many women for her time period. Maria married Filippo Bellino on the 7th of July, 1883. With him she had 7 children, of which, only one daughter survived. Most of the babies died within a few days of birth. Filippo died on the 17th of August 1890. Two years later she married my great-great grandfather Paolo Musarella. With him she had four children, of which, two survived. One of them being my great-grandmother Margherita Musarella. In all she lost at least 8 children. It is possible that more children died and I have not yet find their records. While she had these children in Giardini, I feel like it is important to share some pictures of the city where she was born. I do not know whether her parents were born in Messina also, but I hope to find this information out soon.

I visited Messina with my family in July 2012. We took a train from Giardini-Naxos into Messina.

giardini train

train giardiniMessina is the third-largest city in Sicily. It was founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC, and originally called Zancle. Since that time Messina has been owned and inhabited by many different cultures. From the Mamertines, and Goths to Byzantine Empire, Arabs, a couple of Norman brothers, King Richard I (the lionheart). It is also thought that Messina may have been the harbour from which the black plaque entered Europe, given its close proximity and dealings with Genoese ships coming from Crimea and Caffa. Messina looks more modern than other Italian cities because it has been devastated by two large earthquakes, which destroyed much of their ancient architecture. It also suffered damage from the 1943 air bombings from the Allied Forces in WW2. That all being said, Messina is filled with stunning architecture, buildings and history.

In the images below you will see pictures of statues, and other architectural adornments scattered throughout Messina. You will also see the Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock. (Orologio Astronomico) It is the bell tower of the Messina Cathedral. Every day at 12 o’clock in the afternoon it comes to life. There is a lion, which waves a flag and roars, a cock crows out, Dina and Clarenza, the heroines of Messina at the time of the Sicilian Vespers, take turns ringing the bell, and Jesus pops out of the tomb for instant resurrection.  After they do their show, a rendition of Ave Maria plays throughout the piazza. I didn’t get a brilliant photo of it, but in the third image below you can see the astrological clock. You can also see a view of Messina’s harbour. From there we did a return trip on a hydrofoil to San Giovanni, a small Calabrian city on Italy’s mainland.

messina10 messina9 messina8messina15messina14 messina13 messina7 messina6 messina2messina4messina11messina16