The Messina area is populated by enchanting places, each with its own particularities. Among these is Capo d’Orlando, a town born as a fishing village and over the years that has become an interesting tourist destination. A Messina town that deserves to be visited and known in all its facets.
Origins of the town
The origin of the name Capo d’Orlando dates back to the early Middle Ages, renaming the city in honor of an alleged
stop of the paladin Orlando that he made during a crusade in the Holy Land. Previously, today’s Messina municipality was called Agatirno, an ancient settlement of the Spartans which, according to legend, was founded by Agatirso, son of Aeolus (king of the winds and of the Aeolian islands). The last testimony relating to Capo d’Orlando before the medieval era dates back to 210 BC, when there was a massive deportation from Calabria by the consul Marco Valerio Levino. During the Sicilian Vespers on 4 July 1299, Capo d’Orlando returns to the news with a naval battle between James II and Frederick III for the regency of the Aragonese in Sicily, in the context of the dispute between the Aragonese and Angevins for the Sicilian throne.
In 1398, Capo d’Orlando is mentioned in the chronicles for the siege of Bernardo Cabrera, count of Modica, who chases Bartolomeo di Aragona, traitor of King Martino I who took refuge in the Castle which is located on the promontory from which Capo d’Orlando takes his first name. The following centuries, notably the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, were years of long and damaging floods, which prompted the counts of Amico, former owners of the large estates, to sell the property to the Municipality of Naso. The floods, however, are an opportunity for new fortune for Capo d’Orlando: as a result of the action of the sea, a very fertile plain is born, which brings flourishing crops to be among the most widespread activities along with that of fishermen.
In the same period, a tonnara was born in the San Gregorio area: this is how Capo d ‘Orlando achieved strong economic independence and began to grow demographically, also due to the completion, in 1895, of the railway that crosses the center and of the state roads 113 Messina-Palermo and 116 Capo d’Orlando-Randazzo.
What to see
Among the most important testimonies of the history of Capo d’Orlando is its Castle, or rather the remains of
such building. Used mostly as a stronghold to guard against pirates, in 1400 it was almost completely destroyed during a siege. Another similar building is the Castello Bastione or del Trappeto, built around the 14th century to defend the sugar cane plantations and now renovated and used as a multipurpose cultural center.A place of great interest in Capo d’Orlando is the Sanctuary. of Maria Santissima, built in 1600 next to the remains of the Castle. It is the most important place of worship in the Messina municipality and, from an architectural level, the inlaid wooden ceiling in the shape of an eight-pointed star is very interesting.
What to do
During a stay in Capo d’Orlando, it is advisable to take a tour of the Baths of Bagnoli (district of the Messina municipality). It is an archaeological area found in 1987 during excavations and probably belonging to a Roman villa of the III-IV century. A.D. They are made up of eight rooms, divided into three different environments and the signposted route guides you through all the areas that can be visited. It is also interesting to visit the Scafa Park, an area equipped for walks, on foot or by bike, where you can spend a few hours admiring the view that extends over the sea. There are play areas for children, bars and the remains of a small Greek-Roman amphitheater that can be visited.
What and where to eat
Although originally a fishing village, Capo d’Orlando also has meat dishes as well as fish dishes in its culinary tradition. All made with products coming exclusively from the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Sicilian hinterland. Among the typical dishes we find: mussels au gratin, swordfish rolls, caponata and Sicilian arancini. As desserts, the Sicilian cassata and cannoli. There is no shortage of restaurants where you can taste these and other delicacies, in order to satisfy every need. Trattoria Le Siciliane, Il Torrente, Doria 66, Terra and Il Gabbiano are restaurants in the area that deserve to be tried.
Capo d’Orlando boasts one of the most famous beaches in Sicily, namely that of San Gregorio. A shoreline
which inspired the famous singer-songwriter Gino Paoli for the song “flavor of salt”, released in 1963. The beach
it is made up of small coves, with light sand, gravel and pebbles. The turquoise sea that bathes it contributes to making the show absolutely breathtaking.
How to come
If you have opted by plane to get to Sicily, you can rent one from Palermo airport
car, take the A20 motorway and exit at the Rocca di Caprileone-Capo d’Orlando Ovest junction.
From Catania airport, on the other hand, after traveling on the A18 motorway, you have to take the Capo junction
d’Orlando-Naso. The railway station of the same name allows you to reach Capo d’Orlando also by train.