From a venue for historical events to an interesting tourist destination. This is Milazzo, a Messina town with a long and interesting history and which – for this and not only – attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Origins of the town
The name of the city derives from the Mela river, which crosses the area at the foot of the Peloritani Mountains. The site of the city has been frequented since the Neolithic, but the first important evidences are the remains of villages dating back to the Bronze and Copper Ages. Milazzo was founded in 716 BC, by the Chalcidians of Zancle (today’s Messina) with the name of Mylae. After being one of the theaters of the Peloponnesian War, in 260 BC. the waters of Mylae once again hosted battles with the outbreak of the First Punic War. It was here that Caio Duilio’s naval triumph over the Carthaginian army of Hannibal Barca took place. The city then became an important naval seat and, under the Byzantines, one of the first bishops in Sicily. During the Muslim domination, the Messina municipality was placed at the head of a new territorial district called “Vallo di Milazzo” and became a thriving agricultural and commercial center. During this period the Torre del Maschio was built, transformed into a castle by Frederick II of Swabia. In 1282, during the War of the Vespers, it was alternately occupied by the two contending sovereigns Charles I of Anjou and Pietro d’Aragona. During the Risorgimento uprisings of 1848 Milazzo was at the center of the events linked to the siege and heroic defense of Messina. On 20 July 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi, crowning with the bloody pitched battle he won over the Bourbons, laid the foundations for the liberation of all of southern Italy and for the achievement of national unity. During the Second World War, Milazzo was identified as one of the landing areas in the English invasion plan of Sicily. In that period, the port of Milazzo was considerably strengthened in its defenses as an important maritime, railway and military center.
What to see
Among the religious buildings of greatest interest stands the Ancient Cathedral, built in the fortified city starting from 1607. The Cathedral, conceived on the designs of Camillo Camilliani (a pupil of Michelangelo), was built to replace the old Mother Church of Santa Maria (demolished in 1568 for strategic-military reasons). Also worth mentioning is the New Cathedral: a building with three naves consecrated to Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, built on a project by the architect Francesco Valenti starting in 1937 and inaugurated in 1951.
Speaking instead of civil architecture we find the Palazzo d’Amico, belonging to the family of the same name
marchesi is located on the seafront of Milazzo, just before the seaside district of Vaccarella. Recently restored, it houses the municipal library and is a venue for conferences and exhibitions. In the rooms of the noble floor, relics of the Risorgimento stand out, such as the desk and bed used by Giuseppe and a portrait of him. Finally, among the museums of Milazzo, the Antiquarium Domenico Royo should be mentioned. Opened in 2010, it offers the
history of the city through the exhibition of 1267 objects (located in 10 rooms and dating back to various eras).
What to do
During a stay in Milazzo, it is strongly recommended to take a tour of the ancient village. This is the primary area of the city, consisting of churches, convents and monasteries and which was formed between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The city then expanded in the following centuries, for demographic reasons and more. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that it is one of the most important symbols of the city (if not the most important) and that is the Castle of Milazzo. The first fortifications can be dated to the Roman-Byzantine intervention. In 843 the Arabs gave life to the first nucleus of today’s castle, the Normans and the Swabians added other structures, the Aragonese adapted the defensive system and the Spaniards surrounded it with a mighty wall.
What and where to eat
Milazzo offers typical dishes of Sicilian cuisine, both meat and fish and always with top quality ingredients. Some of the specialties cooked in the area are: Fish Stocco alla Messinese, Caponata di melanzane or parmigiana, Spaghetti with lobster or with bottarga and sardines in the mouth and muscolini. Among the places recommended to taste these delicacies are: Osteria L’Ugghiularu, Macelleria La Fiorentina, Ristorante La Bitta and Ristorante Degus.
One of the most beautiful beaches of Milazzo is certainly that of Ponente. Composed of small white and smooth pebbles, almost completely free, bathed by a crystalline sea and very popular.
The beach of Vaccarella, on the other hand, is located in a fishing area and is characterized by a large number of boats and nets along the shore. Here you can breathe the ancient atmosphere of Milazzo.
How to come
By choosing the car as a means of transport, the city is connected with Messina, Catania and Palermo. Furthermore, numerous bus lines connect Milazzo with Messina and other important Sicilian provinces. The Messina municipality can also be reached by ship via its port by train thanks to its railway station (well connected with the rest of Sicily).