The picture above was SO gorgeous, I just had to use it instead of the one I had in mind. Sometimes you just have to go with the professionals! We arrived in Messina around 7am. My husband, being the early riser in the family, was up to watch the view as we came into port and snapped a few pictures.
There are so many things I love about writing this blog. Mostly I just love re-living the vacations we take. It’s also nice to have a hard copy of all we saw, to help with my memory of the events down the road. Of course I love to share my pictures and stories with all who will listen and look – but mostly I love to learn more about the places we’ve seen. Sometimes there are details that I’ve forgotten completely, or only have a partial memory of, where I need just a little more info to make my story complete. And there are things that I didn’t even realize we saw, but I have a picture to prove it. I see something on the web and it’s an a-ha moment where I say, oh, that’s what that was! The Madonna of the Letter is one of those moments.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. As you enter the port, you are greeted by a statue of the golden Madonna della Lettera (Madonna of the Letter), nearly 20 feet in height with an inscription on the base that translates to “I Bless You and Your City”. Legend has it that this quote ended a letter sent to the people of Messina from the Virgin Mary. This was in the year 42 after the Apostle Paul visited Messina in hopes of converting the Sicilians to Christianity. Great numbers were persuaded and The Holy Mother was pleased by their devotion and granted them perpetual protection with the words “Vos et opossum civitatem benedicimus” – now inscribed on the base of the statue. We didn’t get any closer than the photo shows at the left, but what a marvelous story!
We decided on the Taormina and Greek Theatre excursion thru Carnival and it definitely didn’t disappoint. An hour-long bus ride took us through Messina, passing by a famous astronomical clock at the Piazzo Duomo, of which I have no pictures, unfortunately. If you’re interested, please look here. That would have been a good place to explore on our own, but we opted for only driving by on our way to Taormina, so it looks like we’ll just have to come back!
Our walking tour began with our arrival in Taormina near an exhibition center called Palazzo Corvaia, where the Sicilian Parliament of Nobles met In 1410. We walked past lovely flowers and fabulous old architecture. And whenever we could catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean, we gazed in awe.
And then we were off to the Greek Theatre. Talk about stunning! Check out that first picture again! Built by the Greeks in the 3rd century B.C., it was later restructured by the Romans. Although most of the original seats have been replaced, the theater is still used in the summer months for open-air performances because of its unique acoustics and amazing panoramic views.
Most of the surrounding structures are in pretty rough shape, but you would be too if you had been around this long! It would be wonderful to see a concert here – another reason to return!
Then we were left with time (not enough) to explore (and shop) in the quaint little town of Taormina, with its winding streets and tiny passages. We met up with our tour guide at the fountain and headed back to the ship.
Next up: Naples, Italy