The Messina Fair

The hope that it will soon be able to return to its former glory today is stronger than ever.

The fair and the hopes

The Messina Fair has recently returned to the limelight of local news.
Citizens’ perspectives on the future of the fair have improved a lot, now in Messina there is a very  optimistic  attitude about the fair. Thanks to  the renovation projects , it could finally rediscover a bit of the ancient prestige , which the people of Messina so lacked. A return of the Messina Fair with the quality of the past would also be an excellent thing for tourism. It could once again be an occasion for celebration and discussion, for residents and tourists.

Today’s use of the space of the Messina Fair

The demolition of the former theater in the fair is now temporarily suspended due to the discovery of four war devices dating back to the Second World War.

But, much more evident, is the fact that in recent days the fair has turned into a  vaccination hub . The Covid-19 emergency is being tackled with  vaccines  on which the best scientists from around the world have been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic. Today there are dozens and dozens of citizens who have gathered where the Messina Fair once flourished.

In years past, people went  from hall to hall  to check out  exciting  new products, new technologies  and new  ideas. And, of course, there was always room for the typical food products of Messina.
Rustici, starting with the characteristic and unmissable  arancini , have always been synonymous with  goodness  and  joy. They are  specialties  to be enjoyed with family or friends, an unmissable opportunity for tourists who have always been enchanted by the sublime taste of the typical  Messina arancino.

The origins of the Messina Fair

Probably few people know how  ancient  the  origins  of the Messina Fair are.
The  first fair , in fact, was commissioned by King Frederick III of Aragon in the spring of  1296  (more than 800 years ago!) who called it the ” Frank Fair of the Holy Sepulchre “.
Originally the Fair was located outside the walls of Messina.  Merchants from all over Europe converged on the first and only  fair in Sicily . The city, thanks to its  port  and its  strategic position , was able to offer the rarest and most valuable goods of the thirteenth century.
Testimonies of the time, in fact, inform us that in the fair of the Holy Sepulcher were:

  • Fine fabrics
  • Sought after spices
  • Beautifully made jewellery
  • Wooden sculptures.

It was undoubtedly a unique event!

The Messina Fair over the centuries

In 1421,  Alfonso of Aragon  moved the fair inside the city walls. The opening date of the event was postponed to  1 August , so that it coincided with the celebrations for the  Blessed Assumption.

The start of the fair was, then as in more recent years, an  event of the first order. It was celebrated with a  parade  that started from the  Badiazza monastery . Furthermore, for the occasion, the abbess was given the faculty of remitting the sentence of a criminal.

The Crisis of the Fair

The  fair’s prestige  suffered a setback at the end of the 17th century with the failure of the anti-Spanish revolt. But the real coup de grace came in 1908, with the terrible  earthquake of Messina. The fair disappeared for over twenty-five years.

The return of the Messina Fair

It is in a spirit of resilience, however, that starting in 1934, citizens start holding an  annual fair again . In those years it was held inside the Maurolico high school. It will be necessary to wait for 1938 to see the birth of the new environments located along the  promenade , in a position that would give it greater prominence. They are just  a couple of tram stops  from our location.

Unfortunately however, in 1940 the fair was once again forced to stop and was heavily damaged by the  bombing  of the city. The very recent discovery of the  bombs  is  clear evidence of this.

But  Messina longed for its Fair , so in 1946 a new inauguration restored that annual festive occasion. The fair returned to being a  nerve center of commerce  in Sicily and  an occasion for celebration  for the people of Messina.

The Messina Fair in the future

The hopes of Messina are clear. We all hope that in  the not too distant future  the Fair will be able to return to its former glory. We can’t wait to find out which  technologies ,  products  and  delicacies  will be presented at the Fair, which for years has been  a golden opportunity  for Sicilians and tourists from all over the world.

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