Messina: A Fishing Village and Cannoli

Today we traveled to Messina, the third largest city in Sicily.  The cruise port is just a short walk away from the Cathedral and the Piazza del Duomo, so we planned to walk there first.  On our way to the piazza, we saw someone selling tickets for the local hop on hop off bus for 20 euros per person.  Since Messina is such a large city, it made sense to us to see the city this way – especially since we were especially excited about the stops near the beach and Ganzirri, a small fishing village near Point Sicily. 

If you’re ever in Messina, I highly recommend the hop on hop off (HOHO) bus.  We were really impressed with the people who worked there, especially the young woman who sold us our tickets.  She was incredibly nice and she even trusted us to walk to the ATM with our tickets before we had paid for them.  The tour guide, a lady who spoke at least four languages, was very engaging and informative during our time on the tour.  The only thing that concerned us was that the bus would make some very loud clanking noises when the engine was started, but it didn’t seem to delay the drive and it ended up being a source of entertainment for us as the day went on.  Here is a shot of the first bus we took for the initial city tour.  There was a second bus that took us out to the beach and the fishing village.

The hop on hop off bus in Messina

The bus tour starts at Piazza del Duomo and since we got there right at noon, we were delighted to see the figures moving in the bell tower’s astronomical clock.  What a stroke of luck that we arrived just in time!  I did get a video.  If you want to see it, click this link.  Take a look at the figures in the clock tower.  Apparently, the clock tells various stories from Messina’s history.

The church with the bell tower taken from Piazza del Duomo

There was quite a crowd watching the 15-minute show.  The colorful structure in the foreground of the second photo is from the religious holiday on August 15th celebrating the Ascension of Mary.

Just part of the large crowd at Piazza del Duomo
The large, colorful cart that is still in the piazza from La Vara, a holiday celebrating the Ascension on August 15th

The bus tour passes by various churches, government buildings, and other interesting sites, but one of the few that really stood out for us was the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele.  It wasn’t the theater itself that caught our eye, but rather the strange image on the advertisement for the current showing/exhibition.  Honestly, I have no words.  I’m just not sure what to think.

Check out the image of the current exhibition/show at the theater

As we moved out of the city and headed along a coastal road just northeast of Messina, we saw some lovely sights.  There were beautiful villas all along the route on one side and gorgeous views of the water on the other.  Here is a shot of the Strait of Messina taken from the bus.  You can see Calabria in the distance.

We didn’t stop at the beach as expected, because we knew the HOHO bus only came by these particular stops infrequently and due to our limited time on the island, we had to choose either the beach or the fishing village.  We chose the fishing village of Ganzirri, since we can spend time on the beach in a lot of locations.  Plus, it was about to rain!

The view of Ganzirri from the bus stop. We could see that rain was imminent.

By this time, we were hungry and thirsty from the heat, so our main purpose was to seek out one of the local restaurants that serves really fresh seafood.  We found the place we wanted to go, but there were no tables left.  It was completely packed!  Apparently, this is the place to go and it’s just around the corner from the bus stop.

This is apparently the hottest place in town to eat fresh seafood

Eating at the restaurant in the small fishing village of Ganzirri

So we ended up going to another seafood restaurant on a side street & around the corner from that one, since it was recommended to us by the waiter at the popular restaurant.  We ordered several plates of seafood.  I also ordered prosciutto with melon for Kyle and Kayla to try.  Kayla really liked the flavors.  Kyle wasn’t so sure.

prosciutto with melon

After we left the restaurant, it started raining.  Luckily we brought our rain gear with us.  While waiting for the bus to come back, we sat on a bench and watched the ducks swim in the water.  None of us minded the rain.  In fact, it was a welcome treat after the hot sun.  Of course, Fred is brighter than the sun would be in his bright colors anyway!

The rain did not dampen our mood 🙂
Sicilian ducks 🙂

Here’s a shot of the kids on the bus ride back to the Piazza del Duomo.  They were deep in conversation, but stopped for a moment to pose for my camera.

The kids having one of their “creative discussions” on the way back from the fishing village

Once we got back to the piazza, we hurried back toward the cruise ship; however, we could not leave Messina without stopping for a quick cannoli!  One of the best sources for information about the ports is the crew onboard the ship.  If you’re ever on a cruise ship, use them as a resource.  They have often done the same route many times and get to spend time onshore as well.  One of our waiters told us that the cannoli in Messina was the best that he’d had anywhere, so we didn’t dare leave Messina without having cannoli!  He was right!  Doesn’t it look scrumptious?

Cannoli is a must in Messina

Tomorrow we travel to Naples and head to Pompeii.  We can’t wait!