MESSINA. A few hours will suffice to visit this city which was almost completely destroyed and rebuilt twice in this century: after the earthquake in 1908 and the bombardments in 1943, Of the original Norman structure of the Cathedral (1168) only the lower part of the facade and the magnificent Gothic portals have remained (inside, remains of ancient mosaics in the apse).
Nearby is the church of SS. Annunziata dei Catalani, an elegant combination of Romanesque and Arab-Norman architecture, with a remarkable Apse. We should also visit the important National Museum in the former church of San Gregorio. Noteworthy are: a Polyptych by Antonello do Messina, works by his pupils, two fine paintings by Caravaggio, works by Mattia Preti, ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sculptures, among the latter some by Lantana.
Before leaving Messina we advise paying a visit to the nearby Aeolian Islands, with their wild rocky coasts falling sheer into the sea; there are seven of them-Lipari, Volcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi; they are ideal for a holiday that is different and fascinating.
After Messina one follows the impressive east coast of Sicily through citrus groves and little fishing villages among the rocks; on the other side of the Strait rises the coast of Calabria, dominated by the Aspromontc. After Capo S. Alessio and Forza d'Agro, perched on a high cliff, we reach (32 miles from Messina) Taormina-Giardini, from which we drive up to TAORMINA.