east, Tindari appears backed up against a succession of hills emerging
from the sea and rising to form a land mass resembling a great dragon
slumbering peacefully; perched high upon its head stands the sanctuary,
a landmark that is clearly visible from afar. Climbing up the dragon’s
back, it is possible to enjoy fine views of the Patti Bay and the
beaches up to Capo Milazzo.
sanctuary, of recent construction, houses a Byzantine Black Virgin
that draws thousands of pilgrims, notably in May around the Marian
feasts of the Visitation, and the Nativity (on 8 September). At
the foot of the rock face, nestle the Laghetti di Marinello (visible
from the terrace before the church); these consist of small rock
pools caught when the sea floods the sandy bay. According to legend,
these pools came into existence to save a little girl who otherwise
would have fallen to her death from the top of the headland because
of her faithless mother (unable to believe in a Black Virgin); she
was saved when the sea miraculously withdrew to leave a soft landing
pad of sand that cushioned her fall. In 1982, one of the rock pools
assumed the profile of a veiled woman identified by the local people
as the Madonna of the Sanctuary. The rock pools are accessible on
foot from the beaches of Oliveri.
a fine position high on its own headland, the Greek colony of Tyndaris
was founded by the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysius the Elder in 396
BC, to accommodate refugees from Sparta at the end of the Peloponnese
War (404 BC). Its name maybe related to the Dioscuri (Castor and
Pollux), and to their father Tyndareus of Sparta, husband of Leda
and father of Helen who, according to Homer’s Iliad, indirectly
provoked the War of Troy. The link between the town and the heavenly
twins is taken up on coins and mosaics.
to its stategic location, the town could easily control and defend
the stretch of sea between the Aeolian Islands and Messina, as far
as it fell to Carthaginians, when its defensive walls, sadly, were
unable to protect it from the enemy ravage.
the Roman, the city entered a period of renewed prosperity marked
by construction of new buildings, schools, baths, theatre, markets
and restoration or modification of older ones. The theatre, built
by Greeks, was modified so as to accommodate the demands of its
new audience. Thereafter, it progressively declined notably following
a landslide that destroyed part of the city and the Arab conquest
in the 9th century AD.
walls – The path going up to the top of Capo Tindari passes
alongside sections of the defensive walls build during the reign
of Dionysius, later reinforced and replaced by a double barrier
of square stone blocks. They protected the vulnerable parts of town
which was laid out on a regular grid system with three wide decumani
(main thoroughfares) interconnected by perpendicular cardini. The
natural inclination of the site facilitated an efficient drainage
system along the secondary streets.
Romana – The area comprises the large block south of the Decumano
Superiore (the main axis), complete with baths, taverns and houses
including a large patrician house preserving fragments of mosaic.
– It consists of arcaded remains that give some suggestion
of the scale and elegance of the original basilica. The ruin has
been classified as a basilica or public meeting house; however its
function is still uncertain: it may be possibly be a part of some
monumental propylaeum (gateway) for the agorà or main square
of the city. It is built of large square blocks of sandstone, and
must have comprised five great arches. The central, and widest,
archway provided access to a barrel-vaulted passage spanning the
theatre – Left off the Decumanus Superiore. The theatre stands
just off the Decumanus Superiore which was probably the settlement’s
main thoroughfare (although of the three parallel axes only two
have been brought to light so far). The theatre was built by the
Greeks in the late 4th century, in such a way as to take full advantage
of the natural lie of the land, with the cavea (auditorium) facing
the sea and the Aeolian Islands. It was adapted in Imperial times
for staging gladiator fights.