Just a few kilometres from the Italian mainland, Messina sits on a curved harbour at the northernmost point of Sicily's Ionian Coast. For centuries it has been a major transport hub and today it's an important gateway to and from the island.
First impressions aren't especially flattering. But look beyond the traffic, graffiti and vacant storefronts and you'll find a city of wide boulevards and elegant turn-of-the-century buildings. Messina is home to one of Sicily's finest cathedrals, an engaging art museum and local swordfish celebrated by gourmets across the island. Historical monuments are thin on the ground, however, the result of a devastating earthquake in 1908 and a mass bombing in WWII.