160525 Messina Italy

We arrived into Messina around 7:30am with a Sicily band and dance group to welcome us.

Messina is the capital of the Italian province of Messina. It is the 3rd largest city on the island of Sicily, and the 13th largest city in Italy, with a population of more than 252,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland, and has close ties with Reggio Calabria. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We arrived into Messina around 7:30am with a Sicily band and dance group to welcome us. There were two horses with carts ready to take passengers, one or two at a time, around the town. “Now this is going to take a long time if all the 3,600 passengers decide to do the same excursion.” A guy in the band started playing a piccolo and one of the horses started to get a little agitated and needed a few guys to control it from breaking reins. It was dressed up in a local ‘horse’ costume. The costume was coming off a little. The other horse just stood there looking calm and relaxed and kept doing his thing like a good horse should. After the performers had finished their dancing, we noticed some guys loading one of the horse carts onto a trailer. They then loaded the horse and had the horse’s head hanging over into the cart. Until then, we hadn’t realised that the horse was plastic and could be told what to do, and would obey, for long periods, without being confused as to what it “should” be doing. Both of us got a bit of a giggle from that. Could it be called a Senior’s Moment?

Today, Denise and Brian, Tony and Lynore, arrived in beautiful Messina, Sicily. “We were surprised how close to mainland Italy we were. Soon after arrival, we departed on an excursion to Taormina, Green Theatre, and Corso Umberto to do some shopping.

“We spent the next 40 minutes climbing through tunnel after tunnel (ed. They were in a coach). As we exited every tunnel, a new and spectacular view of a gorge or the Ionian Sea was before us to enjoy. On arrival, we then had to use an elevator instead of climbing the 7 levels to enter the town. Taormina is a classical medieval style village (aren’t all of them?) with a main narrow street that winds through arcades in walls and transverses 3 very different squares leading off from the main corso. There are even narrower streets heading up and down including the ‘narrowest street in Europe”. It was about 600mm wide; just wide enough for a man to pass through between the buildings.

“There are also many interesting churches and an ancient palace now used as a municipal office.

“At the end of the corso is an ancient Greek theatre from 200BC. It is in better condition than the Colosseum in Rome but much smaller. Still in use today, there are many concerts held here from classical to rock. The views are even more spectacular from up there.” Thanks Brian. It sounds like an excursion with a difference.

Jennifer and Kath had a ‘wonderful’ experience standing at the lip of the ‘living’ volcano of Mount Etna. “We were at 6,000 feet above sea level and learnt about the lava flows that last occurred in 1992. Mount Etna was very “vocal”, talking away to us, while we walked around the lip. It even gave us a parting shot as we returned down the mountain, by blowing even more smoke and ash into the sky. We were so glad to be able to be part of this experience.” Climbing into a volcano is an interesting addition to your adventures on this trip, Jennifer and Kath. I remember climbing into the volcano in Rabaul PNG before it blew up and changed the whole region of that beautiful town and harbour. Smoke and a pungent smell were billowing up out of the centre of the crater as we climbed right down into the centre of it.

A few notes on a tour Kevin, Jan and Lorraine had today.

“After negotiating the chaos of the Messina traffic, the coach headed south west on a motorway towards the base of Mt Etna. The motorway ran through many tunnels and whatever the speed limit was, our driver added at least 10km on.

“Mt Etna came into view about two thirds along the way but was covered in cloud and smoke, taking photos was fairly useless.

“We stopped at a hotel in the village of Zafferana where we were offered cake, coffee and local wine tasting.

“Leaving from here the tour took us to the edge of the most recent lava flow back in 1992 which was about 7 km away from the crater.

“You could not see the actual mountain but you could see smoke and hear it rumbling, a bit scary!

“The local story is that Mother Mary stopped the lava flow, if she had not, the town of Zafferana could have been destroyed.

“After a few more rumbles from the mountain and some samples of local honey we set off back to the ship.”

Lindley’s day.

“My tour today took me to Mt Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. And today, it was certainly putting on a show, with smoke billowing from the top. There was no risk to life and limb though as they say the volcanologists can tell a month ahead of time when it is going to “go off”. The last major episode was back in 2002.

We had a wander around some older craters – from an 1892 episode – which was all very interesting, but it was blowing a gale, and staying upright with both the wind, and “slippery” lava-based footing was a challenge.

On the way home we called at the little town of Taormina, which was a typical older European town, with its narrow streets and laneways. One of its claims to fame is a Greek theatre, although as with many of these things, it is difficult to know what is original and what has been supplemented.

A good time was had.”

Thanks guys – much appreciated.

Tomorrow, our day takes us to Naples again where we plan to take a quick ferry to Capri – the place of the rich and famous with the ‘others’ there to look.

No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.

Author: @colinspain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise Group Tours

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