Messina, Sicily

Messina, Sicily

Messina is the capital of the Italian province of Messina. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, in the Mediterranean Sea. The setting for Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Messina has much to offer in the way of history. Its dramatic, boulder-filled harbor has challenged navigators since the days of Ulysses. Try to visit the city’s Bell Tower at the stroke of noon–the hour when one of the world’s largest and most fanciful mechanical clocks springs into action. Messina’s museum is also noteworthy for its Renaissance masterworks.

Sights to visit include the 12th century Cathedral of Messina and the church of the “Annunziata dei Catalani” which stands on one of the most historically important sites of the Straits. The nearby Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, an ongoing volcanic phenomena. Lipari is the largest island of the Aeolian Islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts an Archaeological Museum with a castle and an archaeological park in the back.

Other popular trips include Taormina, 50km south of Messina and the beautiful scenery surrounding Mount Etna, 100km away.

The disabled cruiser visiting Messina will find the city relatively accessible. The town for the most part is flat with only minor sloping hills. Most of the streets are smooth, but you will encounter cobblestone roads. Like all cities in Italy, you will encounter stairs.

With a wheelchair or mobility scooter you need to be aware that whilst traffic can be quite considerate of pedestrians some pavements are quite narrow or non existent and some streets need some surface TLC. Always cross the street at pedestrian crossings as it is a tad hazardous otherwise.

Where You’re Docked

The cruise terminal is located in the busy port on the narrow Strait of Messina, famous for its unruly waters and conflicting currents. The port is right in the heart of downtown Messina and it is easy to walk straight off the ship and into the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of the old town area.

Car hire is available in town.

Good to Know

Messina cruise port terminal is located in the heart of city downtown. The Piazza del Duomo is within easy walking distance. You can explore Messina old town on foot.

Getting Around

Available in front Messina cruise port terminal are taxis and rent-a-car offices. The rate of the taxi should be negotiated. The closest bus and train stations are located a mile from Messina cruise port terminal at Piazza della Repubblica. Via train or bus you can also visit Taormina (approx 55 km / 35 ml south from Messina).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency is the euro.


Tourism is big business, so most people will speak at least a smattering of English. However, they will warm to any visitor at least attempting to speak Italian. In an emergency, dial 112 from any phone to summon police, ambulance or fire services.


Viale San Martino and all the adjacent streets in this neighbourhood compose Messina’s principle shopping area. Good buys include ceramics and shell jewellery.

There are a few beaches in the area including the Messina Strait beach near the port area.

Typical dishes include “pasta ‘ncaciata” (pasta, meat and melted cheese with boiled eggs), swordfish and “arancini di riso” (deep-fried rice balls filled with meat-sauce or butter).

Points of Interest

  • Mt. Etna – Europe’s tallest and most active volcano has erupted over 130 times in recorded history. Enjoy views of the summit as well as the town of Catania, buried by an eruption over 300 years ago. A cable car takes tourists from 1900m above the sea level to 2500m above sea level where people can transfer to the 4×4 cars and go even higher. Tourist can also drive their own vehicles up to the 1900m mark. The cable car is very small and narrow, meaning it is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Taormina – This has been a coastal resort town since Roman times. You’ll find remnants of its Greek and Roman history, a fine medieval quarter and castle ruins, and many modern shops and restaurants.
  • Greek Theater – Built in the 3rd-century B.C, with some alterations made during the Roman era, this ancient theater in Taormina is still perfectly conserved. It’s still used today for concerts and classical productions.
  • Corso Umberto – Eager to please, surprise and delight, this main thoroughfare in Taormina is the perfect place for shopping, people watching and much more. Picturesque lanes above and below the Corso are interesting to explore.
  • Messina/Duomo – Marvel at this 12th century cathedral, originally built in Norman times. Then see the world’s largest astronomical clock that springs to life every quarter hour and a grand display at noon. Stay a while to explore its historical attractions. Go to the Cathedral of Messina, which dates back to the 12th century. Gaze up at the astronomical clock in the bell tower and watch the mechanical figures perform scenes from the city’s history at noon. The cathedral stands on the Piazza del Duomo, which also features the 16th-century Orion fountain.
  • San Michele Winery – Perched on the slopes of Mt. Etna, San Michele Winery is a notable producer of Sicilian varietals including the famous Murgo wines. Tour the winery, then, enjoy a sample of its delicious fruit of the vine.

Messina Accessible Excursions

Whether you’re arriving in Catania, Messina, Palermo, Taormina, or Giardini Naxos, these accessible shore excursions meet your needs. These wheelchair accessible shore excursions of Sicily include an officially-certified, English speaking guide as well as round-trip transportation in a wheelchair accessible van.

Best of Mount Etna and Taormina Accessible Shore Excursion

This 8-hour Best of Mount Etna & Taormina Accessible Shore Excursion, will bring you to an ancient Greek colony, see Europe’s largest volcano (11,000 ft. Mount Etna), and experience the incredible landscape of Giardini Naxos Bay.

Your knowledgeable tour guide will pick you up from the cruise dock in a wheelchair accessible vehicle, where you’ll be able to view the amazing countryside in comfort between the attractions.

The Taormina accessible shore excursion begins in the village of Castelmola, which has a history dating back to 396 BC. You will then spend 1 or 2 hours in Taormina enjoying sights such as the ancient Greek theater of Taormina, built in the early 7th century BC and Via Valeria Road, and ancient Roman road that traverses Italy.

Your tour will then take you to Catania where you will visit Catania’s baroque city center boasts an early cathedral with stunning architecture.

Sit back and enjoy the culture, history, and beauty of Sicily with this accessible tour that is sure to have something for everyone. The Best of Mount Etna & Taormina Accessible Cruise Excursion uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.

Syracuse Wheelchair Accessible Guided Tour

Your guide and driver will pick you up from the cruise terminal in an accessible van to begin your 8-hour wheelchair accessible cruise excursion. Syracuse is situated on the southern part of the Island of Sicily, so you will enjoy panoramic views of the Sicilian coast on your way to the city. This 2700-year-old city has so much to offer, that this full day accessible guided tour of Syracuse is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your vacation.

Your first stop is the Archeological Park of Neapolis. This vast area of ancient ruins includes a Roman amphitheatre, a Greek theater, and a stone quarry and gardens area (the Latomia del Paradiso).

You will then visit the historical heart of Syracuse, Ortygia Island. It is the “old city center” and is a popular area for entertainment, shopping, and eating. Walk/roll down the streets of the old town to the Arethusa Fountain, a freshwater fountain and garden that flows to the sea. The wheelchair accessible Arethusa Fountain viewing area from above has a ramp rather than stairs, so it is easy to navigate for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.

Afterwards, you will walk/roll through the open air, local market of Ortygia, where vendors sell fresh fish, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and handmade goods. At the end of your Syracuse wheelchair accessible guided tour, your driver will take you back to the cruise terminal where you will board your ship.

The Siracuse Wheelchair Accessible Guided Tour uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.

Best of Messina Accessible Cruise Excursion

This full-day accessible cruise excursion of Messina features  and wheelchair accessible transportation.

Begin your 8-hour Best of Messina Accessible Cruise Excursion when your guide and driver pick you up from the cruise terminal in an accessible van with a wheelchair ramp. You will then begin your breathtaking views of the coast drive to the city of Messina and learn about the knights and crusaders who traveled through this port on their way to the crusades in the 12th century.

Richard the Lionheart visited the 12th century Cathedral of Messina to worship on his way to the crusades. The cathedral is decorated with beautiful sculptures and mosaics, and the bell tower is home to one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world.

Next, see the bronze statues of the Church of Christ the King and view the entire city as well as the straight of Messina from one of the best scenic spots in the city.

After touring the city of Messina, your accessible cruise excursion will continue to Tindari, or Tyndaris, which sits on a hill above the crystal waters of the Tyrrhenian coast. This Bronze Age (1500 BC) settlement became a Roman city in 254 BC and by 365 AD was one of Sicily’s most important Greek cities. Visit the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna as your guide explains the legends surrounding the mysterious appearance of the coastline shaped like the Virgin Mary. Afterwards, your guide will take you to the ruins of a 4th century BC Greek amphitheater. 

At the end of your Best of Messina Accessible Cruise Excursion, your guide and driver will drop you back at the cruise terminal where you arrived.

The Best of Messina Accessible Cruise Excursion uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.