Messina has long been the gateway to Sicily, and with three days you can both pause at the threshold to discover the city’s treasures and pass through to explore the island’s most important sights. You’ll even have time to experience Sicily as it’s depicted on the silver screen. Here are your options for three days in Messina.
Day 1: Messina’s Culture and Cuisine
Dedicate your first day to the culture and cuisine of the island’s largest port city. Though a disastrous 1908 earthquake and intensive World War II bombing destroyed much of Messina, a clutch of historic headliners remain. Take a walking or Segway tour through the old town to admire highlights such as the cathedral and the Norman Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani. Afterwards, pop in to see the Renaissance and baroque masterpieces in the Regional Museum, pausing before works by Antonello da Messina and Caravaggio. Finish your day by diving into the city’s culinary heart with a street-food tour or an in-home cooking lesson followed by a lively family-style meal.
Day 2: The Heights of Taormina and Mt. Etna
Set off south along the Ionian coast to one of the most beautiful towns in Sicily: Taormina. Perched on a hilltop above the coastline, the old town is home to the magnificent 2nd-century Greek Theater and 13th-century cathedral, as well as the bustling Corso Umberto I thoroughfare and Piazza IX Aprile, with its scenic terrace overlooking the countryside to the sea. From Taormina, make a quick stop either above or below town in the charming hilltop village of Castelmola or coastal outcrop of Isola Bella. Finally, take a guided walk on Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, then stop at one of the mountainside wineries on the way back down for a tasting.
Day 3: Sicily on the Silver Screen
Sicily is the setting for much of The Godfather, and fans of Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic franchise can join themed tours that trace the series’ most important locations. Godfather completists will enjoy visiting the village of Savoca, backdrop to the wedding between Michael Corleone and Apollonia Vitelli in the church of Santa Lucia. Most tours also stop in Forza D’agrò, where Santa Annunziata Cathedral stood in for the main square of Corleone, as well as at the villa where Michael was ultimately betrayed and Apollonia killed. Also learn about the history of Sicily’s mafia, its clan wars, and its spread to the New World from your guide before returning to Messina.