So Clem and I have begun our 10 day cruise with Celebrity Cruises. I will be covering all detail of the cruise itself in a separate post but for now here we are at our first stop; Messina, Sicily. The shore excursions on offer through the cruise had been a trip to Etna which was fairly pricy, or a tour of the city. The latter we felt we could manage ourselves on foot, so we quickly circumvented the small queues forming outside the ship awaiting tour buses, and made our way to the centre.
For those less keen on walking, it’s super-easy to get a ‘hop on, hop off’ type bus trip in the city and needn’t be done through Celebrity Cruises. There are other trips (that I’ll be on later in the week) where there are advantages of choosing the in-house organised trips and certainly if money isn’t an issue then it makes things very easy; but in this case it was as easy to organise yourself from the shore on the day as locals gather around offering different tour options at a fraction of the price.
Messina is a small city in the northeast of Sicily, where from the port you can see mainland Italy in the distance. With Clem in charge of our route and me in charge of the camera, we set off to explore.
We covered about 5 miles in total over the next couple of hours, stopping for photos, to chat with locals or pick up local treats. Our route began in took us from the main square, Piazza Duomo where there is the stunning astrological bell tower providing a stunning backdrop to the Fontana di Orione. The colours and ornate detail were absolutely beautiful, and with the blazing sun overhead they really looked stunning.
There were some really bustling restaurants and cafe’s in the square but we’d been sitting for the past few hours and we’d sights to see so we continued on towards the Palazzo del Monti di Pieta.
Another beautiful structure that we almost just stumbled upon as it was set in fairly inconspicuous surroundings – local apartments etc. Inside, we imagined life in years gone by and how on earth they could create such beautiful architecture without modern day machinery.
Our ambling continued to more fountains, and some hidden steps that we headed up for sights over the city.
From here we could see the city stretch out before us right out to see; with mainland Italy in the background. Celebrity Reflection was always in view (out of shot, but just to the right of the photo below), but strangely when you’re ‘living on it’ it feels more of a pleasure than a pain to see it in the background!
We could also see the Sacrario Militare Cristo Re in the distance so decided that’s where we’d go to next.
The shrine of the Sacrario Militare Cristo Re preserves the remains of 1288 fallen from the Second World War, 161 unknowns, most of whom were killed during the defeat of Sicily, and 110 killed in the First World War. There’s a great sense of peace as you walk inside, and moment of calm during a day.
All this walking, we were soon feeling pecking, so picked up some small snacks from a local bakery. The italians can really do cakes well, so although it took a while with the language barrier, my almond treat was worth the wait!
We finished our tour along the harbour with the last few sites to take in.
Messina is pretty, and worth a tour of if you’re passing, but I would struggle to spend more than a day here as we’d finished all the top spots in half a day. It meant that we ended up finishing our self-guided tour by lunch time and returned to the ship; where both the atmosphere and the views of the area were potentially better than we could have found in the city.
Next stop, Malta!