Winter holidays in Messina: what to do and see

Winter brings with it many trips, outings, and long weekends.

Many believe that Sicily should be excluded from the list of destinations for a winter getaway, and therefore Messina is not the ideal destination.

However, if you are considering spending your winter holidays in Messina, the city will surprise you, and there will be plenty of things to do and see. Here are some suggestions for your stay.

Outdoor Activities to Discover Natural Beauty

If you are looking for outdoor activities, January is a perfect month for hiking in nature. The weather is cool but not too cold, making it ideal for walking and enjoying the scenery.

Messina is surrounded by a landscape of rare beauty, offering the opportunity for hiking and outdoor activities.

The Peloritani Mountains rise just outside the city. Here, between the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, you can reach the summit of Monte Dinnammare, where a splendid sanctuary is located, surrounded by soaring birds of prey. Alternatively, you can visit the Valley of the Mills to admire the San Filippo Superiore Waterfall.

Further west, where the Peloritani end, the Nebrodi Mountains begin. In the transition from one to the other, you may come across the mysterious megaliths of Argimusco and the Rocca di Novara, nicknamed the “Matterhorn of Sicily” for its resemblance to the Alpine mountain.

For snow and winter sports enthusiasts, you can also ski on Mount Etna in winter, with a view of the sea, within the ski resorts of Nicolosi to the south and Piano Provenzana-Linguaglossa on the north side, just 100 km from Messina.

Visits to Museums and Historical Monuments

January is also a perfect time to visit the museums and historical monuments of Messina, as they are less crowded than other times of the year.

Little-known, the Regional Interdisciplinary Museum of Messina boasts an extensive collection of art and archaeology and is definitely worth a visit. The museum’s highlights include the polyptych of San Gregorio created by Antonello da Messina in 1473 and the paintings “Adoration of the Shepherds” and “Resurrection of Lazarus” created in the early 17th century by Caravaggio.

Among the must-see monuments is the imposing Cathedral of Messina. Built in the 12th century and rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake, it houses works by Antonello da Messina, Caravaggio, and Girolamo Alibrandi. Every day at noon, you can witness the spectacle of the Bell Tower, which houses the world’s largest astronomical clock, with its mechanical statues coming to life in a representation of the city’s sacred and civil history.

Staying near the Cathedral, you can admire the Fountain of Orion, a 16th-century work by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, a student of Michelangelo. The fountain represents the myth of Orion, the legendary founder of Messina, and the city’s four main rivers.

A jewel that you will undoubtedly photograph extensively is the Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani, a peculiar religious building built between the 11th and 12th centuries, probably on the remains of a temple of Neptune. Due to sinkings caused by earthquakes and fires over the centuries, the church is now about three meters below street level. The architecture is a mix of styles, with a prevailing Byzantine influence.

A visit to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montalto is a must, erected on the homonymous hill, offering a splendid panoramic view of the city and the Strait.

From here, you can also admire another important monument: the Madonna della Lettera, the symbol of the City of Messina and a testament to the indissoluble bond between Messina and the sea. It is a gilded bronze statue placed atop a votive stele visible at the entrance of the Port. The statue, the work of the artist Tore Calabrò, a native of Messina, depicts the Madonna with her arm raised in the act of blessing the ships entering and leaving.

If time allows, it is suggested to also take a look at the Church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni, the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, the Monastery of Montevergine of the Clarisses of Santa Eustachia, and the Church of San Giovanni di Malta. Among the civil buildings, Palazzo Zanca (city hall), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, and the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà are certainly points of considerable interest.

Finally, you can visit the Vittorio Emanuele Theater in Messina, the largest theater in Sicily in terms of capacity, to appreciate its neoclassical facade adorned with reliefs and sculptural groups. If you are a fan of theater, music, and dance, check the schedule to see if there is anything of interest!

Whether you are a lover of outdoor activities or city visits, Le Stanze is ready to welcome you and provide useful suggestions to organize a delightful winter vacation.

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