Very close to Messina it is possible to visit 2 enjoyable tourist destinations: Milazzo Sicily, a beautiful little town with a wonderful seashore and an important port to reach the Aeolian Islands, and Tindari Sicily, a village known for the black Madonna shrine and its archeological excavations. These are just two interesting attractions to visit among Messina shore excursions if you are looking for day trips in Sicily that combine history and breathtaking views.
Milazzo Sicily and its historical city center
Milazzo Sicily is a little town in the province of Messina and it’s located on the coastline. It is very popular not only for its beaches, but also for the rests of its ancient past.
Milazzo was founded in 716 B.C. by a Greek community with the name of Mylai on a prehistoric settlment. During the punic wars, the town was very important for its strategic position and several naval battles set in the waters in front of its bay. Then, in the Roman age, Milazzo was considered land of Messina, sharing the same privileges.
In 843 Milazzo Sicily was conquered by the Arabs, who fortified the town, and it became a trade and rural centre, but it developed better during the Middle Age, with the arrival of the Normans.
Today the town is divided into upper town and lower town. The upper part is the oldest town and it is very fascinating because it holds rests of the medieval village, the castle and the fortified walls. The Milazzo castle was built between the XI and the XII centuries, but it was enlarged in the XIII century under the reign of king Federik II Hohenstaufen. The castle was occupied during the French domination of Charles of Anjoux and then by the Aragoneses (the Spaniards), who renowed the structure of Milazzo castle and built the fortified walls to surround the medieval village in the XVI century. You can visit several halls of the castle, such as the Norman tower, the so called fireplace’s hall, where in 1295 a sort of Parliament was hosted, the court and several parts built during the Spanish domination. It’s wonderful walking there and you can enjoy a beautiful view from the top!
Between 1608 and 1704 the ancient cathedral was built within the fortified walls. It was dedicated firstly to Saint Mary of Assumption and then to Saint Stephan, Patron Saint of Milazzo. It still holds some marble decorations inside and it deserves to be visited, meanwhile you walk around the Milazzo castle.
The lower part of Milazzo developed around the XVIII century and you can visit some buildings dating back to that period. But this beautiful town is also popular for its beaches and beautiful crystal waters and it’s a good place if you are looking for history, nature and relax, because Milazzo Sicily has everything!
Tyndaris, the Greek and Roman village and the black Madonna Sicily
Tindari Sicily is a beautiful little town located 230 meters above sea level. The ancient town of Tyndaris was founded by the Tyrant of Syracuse, Dionisius, in 396 B.C. thanks to his policy of expansionism; during the first punic war it was an important naval headquarter and in 257 B.C. the battle of Tyndaris between Rome and Carthago was fought and the Romans won; later the area of Syracuse passed under control of the Roman empire and Tindari Sicily continued to be a naval base.
In the I century A.D. Tindari Sicily suffered a landslide and in the IV century it was damaged by two destructive earthquakes. The town was conquered by the Byzantines first, becoming an episcopal seat, and by the Arabs later, who destroyed fast everything, so the population took refuge in the surroundings and founded a new town: Patti.
Today, during one of the day trips in Sicily organized by Discover Messina Sicily, you can see the fascinating rests of the ancient village of Tyndaris; in fact the achaeological excavations, conducted since 1838, brought to light the Greek-roman urban layout. Walking among the paths you will reach the so called insula IV, where you can see rests of tabernae (Roman shops), the Roman thermal baths, with beautiful mosaic floor, and two private houses. In the area of the archaelogical excavations you can visit also the rests of a Greek theatre, modified during the Roman age, and the Roman Basilica, an impressive building dated to the IV century B.C. At the entrance of the archaeological area you’ll find an Antiquarium in which you can see several objects recovered in the excavations. It’s worth visiting it during one of Messina shore excursions!
Addictionally Tindari Sicily is well known thanks to the Tindari Church of the black Madonna Sicily; the worship of this black icon of Virgin Mary dated back to the VIII century, when the wooden statue of the black Madonna arrived in Tindari. According to the legend a ship in that period took refuge in the bay of Tindari because of a storm, but later the ship couldn’t set sail until the sailors left the cargo of the ship on the beach.
he cargo included the statue of Virgin Mary, that was brought on the hill; there, a little shrine was built and the worship flourished in the byzantine period. The Tindari church was destroyed in 1544 by Arab pirates, but it was rebuilt between 1552 and 1598. The worship continued flourishing so a bigger Tindari church was built in 1979, but still today you can visit the ancient shrine too.
The fest of the black Madonna Sicily is celebrated in Tindari and Patti every year on the 7th and 8th of September and there are lots of legends and miracles linked to this worship.
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