From Old to New | MSC Preziosa & Messina
The following MSC Cruises (Australia) blog have been written courtesy of staff member, Donna Anderson, and her experiences during the MSC Preziosa maiden voyage and port of call in Messina, March 2013.
Sicily for me has always been a place of mystery, when I travelled as a back packer throughout Italy many, many eons ago it was the island that I never saw, however the Italian’s waxed lyrically of this beauty at the tip of their world. The island offered rich history, beautiful sheer cliffs and stunning water views with beaches to die for, so the Italian’s say. However, as a true Aussie I needed to see it to believe it but as a backpacker knows, I just could not afford it the first time round.
So, as we sailed into the capital city of Messina at 7am on a brisk Monday morning on-board MSC Preziosa for her inaugural visit to this island, I was excited and a little proud to be fulfilling my dream in such a stunning way. Sure beats smelly trains and rough overnight sleeps to save money any day!
The city stood proud , stunning buildings lined the area. However, I had my sights set on a small cliff top city about 1 and half hours just outside Messina known as – “the jewel of Sicily” – Taormina. With Greco-Roman history, stunning views of Mt Etna, and picture postcard cobbled streets and alleys, the guidebook had me hooked. As the bus climbed toward the site and Mt Etna came into view, I was captivated.
Taormina is perched on the east coast of the island and overlooks the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. For me the guided walking tour was a great experience, allowing me to be immersed in its heritage and history to full degree. The guide talked of war and pillage, the take over and fall of the Roman Empire, and surprisingly, the takeover by the Arabs in 902 – the details of the towns colourful history shines through the columns and architecture as we walked, stopped and looked along the buildings and walls of the cobbled streets.
At the end of the stretch of the city is the captivating ancient ruins of the Teatro Greco. What a magnificent surprise. It is like walking into a very old, beautiful Colosseum and the crumbling pillars reveal glimpses of the blue sea. It’s a marvel how this arena was built so high up, perched at the end of such a pretty and elegant town.
The fun is as much in the walk back to the coach. You have time to stop at some amazing shops, bakeries and restaurants clinging high on the cliffs with breathtaking views. There was time to relax in the main square overlooking Mt Etna, I had a strong coffee, took in the view and met some locals.
As the bus wound back down the mountain I was stunned by another sight off the Sicilian coast, the gleaming modern beauty MSC Preziosa, and what a sight to behold. It was a day of old meeting the new, I will certainly return to the island of Sicily very soon.