Of all the major cities in Sicily, Messina is the one with which I have the most familiarity, simply because it is physically closer to Sinagra. But apart from this I find that Palermo is too decrepit and full of crime, Catania is just plain dirty and dangerous and the others are simply too difficult to travel to. While Messina battles with the usual problems of a big city it is more cosmopolitan and easier to explore.
Other major cities in Sicily have their particular appeal I find Messina’s atmosphere more sophisticated but what attracts me most is the unusual mixture of mythology and legend in its history. The way in which the city’s stories are weaved into the places saga creating an intoxicating hybrid of the two. A myth-story. Often legends are taught as history lessons and historical figures become characters in myths. This combination of seemingly contrasting elements creates a world of paradox, marrying together many unlikely elements.
The city is Christian and pagan, old and new, historic and mythological, it contains many contrasts which exist side by side. It is between the sea and the mountains, separated from the rest of Italy by a strip of sea which seems easily traversed yet is full of peril. A self-sustained isolation that has fashioned Messina’s identity in a culture of oral history that melds tall tales and legends to create the city’s story in ongoing complexity.