the ancient Mylai, the sea city, sits at the base of the neck of
Capo Milazzo, a sickle-shaped promontory that juts into the Tyrrhenian
Sea, pointing like a finger towards the Aeolian Islands, only few
miles offshore. Mythology holds that the area’s pastures provided
grazing for the flocks of the Sun god while the islands were considered
to be home to Aeolus, the keeper of the winds, as well as to pretty
nymphs, dancing satyrs and sileni (spirits of wild nature later
associated with Dyonisius). It was possibly here that Ulysses and
his companions were shiprecked and encountered Polyphemus.
origin is rooted in remotest times. Due to its highly strategic
position, it was a site suitable for settlement since the Antiquity.
It was the scene of many battles, a silent witness being its fortress
seeing many rulers succeeding throughout the centuries.
Borgo is the oldest part of the town. It consists of the medieval
quarter stretching along the slope of the hill and the fortified
citadel towering above it. Here an antiques fair is held on the
first weekend of each month. Access to the Borgo is provided by
the Via Impallomeni, bordered on both sides by the Spanish Military
Barracks (1585-95). The Borgo accomodates many religious buildings.
On the right, is the Santuario di S. Francesco di Paola, along a
steep street of the same name. Founded in 1464, during the Saint’s
stay in town, it was restructured in the course of the 18th century.
Its attractive façade is graced with an effective interplay
of curvilinear stairway, windows and gallery, crowned with an elegant
pediment. Inside, the chapel of Jesus and Mary contains an unusual
carved wooden altar decorated with gilt and mirrors, set with a
charming Madonna and Child central panel by Domenico Gagini (1465).
along, up Salita S. Francesco, stands the Palazzo dei Vicerè,
dating from the 16th century and altered in the 18th century with
the construction of balconies with Baroque brackets. Beyond, on
the other side of the streets, is the 1600’s Chiesa del SS.
Salvatore Salvatore, with a fine façade designed by Giovan
Battista Vaccarini. Further along the Via S. Domenico, on the right
hand side, stands the Chiesa della Madonna del Rosario that served
as the seat of the Inquisition Tribunal as far as 1782. Erected
in the 16th century, it was extensively refurbished during the 18th
century, its interior decorated with stuccoes and frescoes, the
latter by Messina painter Domenico Giordano. To the left, the Salita
Castello leads up to the Spanish city walls, which is the outermost
and the most impressive of the city’s three sets.
e Castello – The main fortification of the city was initiated
by the Arabs in the 10th century on what had been the site of an
ancient Greek acropolis that was repeatedly modified over the centuries.
Beyond the Spanish walls, there is a large open space with, on the
left, the Duomo Vecchio, dated 1608, a fine specimen of Sicilian
Mannerism. The area is believed to have accomodated the houses of
the city notables. Following the political and administrative offices
moving to the lower side of the town, the area, as well as the Duomo,
decreased in importance, the latter first reduced to a warehouse,
then a prison and finally a a stable. The 1400’s Aragonese
city walls are punctuated by five truncated-cone towers, two of
which set closer together, flank a fine gateway set into a pointed
arch bearing the coat of arms of the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand
and Isabella – a shield divided into four sections (representing
the monarchs under which Spain was unified), supported by the eagle
of St. John. Within, stands Frederick II’s castle with later
additions. The fine Gothic gateway is surmounted however by the
Aragon coat of arms, added in the 1400’s. It was here in the
great hall that representatives from the five campate (regions of
Sicily) met to constitute the Sicilian Parliament of 1295. From
the top of the castle extends a wonderful view over the Aeolian
Islands (from left: Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and, on particularly
clear days, Stromboli) and the Tono Bay.
development of the Città Bassa began in the 18th century,
following people’s decision to abandon the old, upper town,
in favour of a flatter, and nearer to sea, site. The new city grew
around Piazza Caio Duilio, beside which a lovely fish market takes
place every morning. The piazza is bordered by fine buildings: to
the west is Palazzo Marchese Proto (once Garibaldi’s headquarter);
to the east is the elegant façade of the Chiesa del Carmine,
graced with a fine doorway (dated 1620), an architrave sculpted
with garlands and volutes, and a niche containing the statue of
the Madonna della Consolazione (dated 1632). Next to it stands the
Convento del Carmine, now used as the Town Hall.
along the old Strada Reale, now Via Umberto I, which is lined with
occasional noble palazzi, unfortunately in a poor condition. On
Cia Cumbo Borgia, running alongside Umberto I, stands the Duomo
Nuovo (the new cathedral) erected in the 1930s, which preserves
some prized paintings: on the main altar, figures of St. Peter and
St. Paul (1531) frame the wooden statue of St. Stephen; these panels
from a dismantled polyptych are by Antonello de Saliba, who also
painted the Adoration of the Shepherds; the luminous Annunciation,
painted with vibrant colours typical of the Venetian School, and
the Saint Nicholas Enthroned with scenes from his life are both
attributed to Antonio Giuffrè, a painter of the Antonelli
school (late 15th century).
the intersection with Via Cristoforo Colombo is the Villino Greco,
in the Liberty style, with fine friezes of stylised flowers and
excursion – About 8km by car
the Lungomare Garibaldi along the seafront, overlooked by the elegant
1700’s façade of Palazzo Marchesi D’Amico; cross
the waterfront district of Vaccarella (beginning with the piazza
before the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore) and follow the panoramic
road which runs along the eastern side of the Milazzo promontory
to the end. Once at Capo di Milazzo, pause to admire the enchanting
and beautifully colored panorama; intense greens merging with the
burnt browns of the Mediterranean maquis extend over the rocky spur
to blend with the dazzling blue of the sea beyond. From Piazza Sant’Antonio,
a short flight of steps leads down to the Santuario di Sant’Antonio
da Padova, overlooking the bay of the same name. Built within a
grotto believed to have given refuge to the Saint during a storm
in 1221, it became a place of pilgrimage. It was converted into
a sanctuary in 1575 under the patronage of noble Andrea Guerrera
and further endowed with altars, marble decorations and panels in
shallow relief during the 18th century.
to the town centre following the road that runs the ridge of the
little peninsula, past several elegant villas; fork right along
the road to Monte Trino, the highest point on this strip of land,
unfortunately spoilt by the erection of telecommunications transmitters.
The name is all that remains of a temple possibly dedicated to the
pagan triad of Apollo, Diana and Isis (or Osiris), dating from the
Greek-Roman age. From the small piazza before the Chiesa della SS.
Trinità, there are wonderful views over Milazzo, the citadel
and the sickle-shaped promontory.
the west, the coast opens out into a beautiful long strip of sand
that runs to the Grotta di Polifemo, where Ulysses and the cylops
meeting is supposed to have taken place. Opposite stretches the
huge Baia del Tono (locally known as the ‘Ngonia, from the
Greek word for bay); further on, although incorporated into a tourist
complex, are the remains of a tuna fishery.
Lucia del Mela – 13 km south. This small town is overshadowed
by the silhouette of a castle built by the Arabs in the 9th century
and later altered, during the Swabian and the Aragonese occupations.
Little survives other than an imposing round tower fortifying the
main gateway, part of a triangular bastion and sections of the defensive
walls which shelter the Santuario della madonna della Neve (1673).
Inside the building is a fine Madonna della Neve by Antonello Gagini
dated 1529. A beautiful panorama extends from a terrace on the left
side of the church.
down to the town, there is an elegant Renaissance portal gracing
the Chiesa Madre di Santa Lucia (17th century), with, above, a fine
lunette containing the relief of the Madonna attended by St. Agatha
and St. Lucy, with the royal eagle, symbol of the regal patronage.
Left of the church is Piazza del Duomo where stands the Palazzo
Vescovile, marked by its heavily rusticated entrance. On Via Garibaldi
stands the Chiesa dell’Annunziata, with a fine 1400’s
campanile with three tiers of single openings surrounded with volcanic
stone. Its portal, dated 1587, is ornamented with panels of delicate
reliefs illustrating the Annunciation, surrounded with a garland
of organic decoration.
– 15km south-west. The main attraction of this little town
is the extraordinary apothecary’s pharmacy which in itself
is quite unique. The shopfront consists of a fine 1500’s Tuscan-style
doorway flanked by a stone counter. Inside, arranged on the fabulous
old wooden shelves, is a rare collection of maiolica drug jars (or
albarello) datable from about 1580. What is particularly interesting
about this collection is that all the pieces come from the famous
Patanazzi family workshop in Urbino, having been commissioned by
the Messina herbalist Cesare Candia (whose coat of arms, a dove
and three stars on a turquoise background, can be seen on each and
every one of the 238 jars assembled). The collection, acquired from
a priest from Rocca, arrived in town in 1628 and comprises long-necked
vases, small jugs with handle and spout, and albarelli (typical
tall pharmacy jars) bearing scenes from the Bible, Classical mythology
or the history of Ancient Rome. There are two magnificent display
amphorae (note their wonderful handles) decorated in relief with
characteristic grotesque and a narrative panel representing Julius
Caesar receiving Senior Captivi (right) and the contest of Apollo
versus Marsyas who, on losing, was tied to a tree and flayed alive.
the same piazza is the 1500’s castle, a transitional building
between a fortress and an aristocratic residence: the massive walls
along the right side are tempered by the elegant balconies and their
the edge of the town, within the gardens of the former Capuchin
Convent stands a gracious municipal villa, enjoying a panoramic
view over the Milazzo promontory and the Fortezza di Venetico Superiore
with its four round towers.
– 20km south-east. Rometta occupies a strategic position
at some 600m height. It earned its place in history by couragously
resisting the Arab invaders, being one of the last Sicilian towns
to fall into their hands, in 965. Little remains of the city walls
other than the two pointed gateways, Porta Milazzo and Porta Messina.
The Chiesa Madre dedicated to the Madonna of the Assumption has,
on its left side, a fine 1500’s doorway decorated with a frieze
of organic and animal motifs. From the ruins of Frederick II’s
castle there is a wonderful view of Capo di Milazzo and the Aeolian
Alcara Li Fusi
Barcellona Pozzo Di Gotto
Castel Di Lucio
Francavilla Di Sicilia
Monforte San Giorgio
Nizza Di Sicilia
Novara Di Sicilia
Pace Del Mela
Roccella Val Demone
San Filippo Del Mela
San Marco D'alunzio
San Pier Niceto
San Piero Patti
San Salvatore Di Fitalia
Sant'agata Di Militello
Sant'angelo Di Brolo
Santa Domenica Vittoria
Santa Lucia Del Melo
Santa Maria Salina
Santa Teresa Di Riva
Santo Stefano Di Camastra
Scivoletto e Michelin Italia. Le foto sono di proprietà
dei rispettivi autori. Ogni riproduzione non autorizzata verrà
perseguita a norma di legge.
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Guide of Sicily
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