Sicilian Castles By The Sea.
Messina, From The Harbor.
The Campo Santo Of Messina.
But if Messina has not many architectural features which invite inspection, it is by no means an uninteresting city, as any one can prove, if he will give some hours to a stroll along its animated quays, which offer a continuous panorama of marine activity. The harbor itself is almost an ideal one. A narrow tongue of land bends gracefully upon itself before Messina, in the form of a sickle, the tip of which approaches finally so closely to the land as to leave an entrance channel only fifteen hundred feet in breadth between the city and the apex of the hook. This natural breakwater, whose resemblance to a sickle gave to the town its earlier Grecian name of Zancle, holds in its protecting curve an area of water not only a mile and a quarter in circumference, but deep enough to float the largest vessels in the world. It is a pleasure to watch the constant movement going on within this sheltered basin. No less than fourteen hundred steamers enter and leave it yearly, - or, on the average, about four a day, - besides which nine or ten thousand sailing vessels annually drop their anchors in its tranquil depths. Some of these hail from France or Spain; others from Greece or Egypt; while others still are bound for place of passage, where ships and steamers of all nations come and go, gliding with sinuous swiftness round the slender arm that beckons them invitingly to shelter and repose.
The Sickle Of Messina.
Along The Docks Of Messina.
Meanwhile Messina, siren-like, reclines upon a natural couch of exquisitely rounded hills, where, wreathed with flowers, and girdled by innumerable groves of golden fruits, she looks serenely toward the rising sun, having upon her right hand the Ionian, and on her left hand the Tyrrhenian Sea, while at her feet the beautiful Sicilian strait unites these waters with a sapphire band. The whole adjoining territory is the favorite realm of Flora and Pomona, and practically all that ships and steamers carry from Messina is the gift of Mother Earth. Its piers are crowded with the island's produce.
Here are huge mounds, composed of crates of oranges and lemons; and there are endless casks of wines and oils, and boxes filled with olives, essences, and almonds. In a good year Messina alone exports one million, two hundred thousand cases of oranges and half as many lemons; for on the entire island there are no fewer than ten million orange, lemon, and citron trees, or two thirds of the whole number in the kingdom of Italy. Moreover, what especially impresses one, as he surveys the ceaseless energy of this Sicilian harbor, is the thought that it has been thus active for about three thousand years. For this was a commercial settlement of the Greeks in the eighth century before Christ; and during all the bloody and tumultuous epochs of its history, by whatsoever names its masters called themselves, it still continued to be prosperous and active, because of the superb advantages given it by nature. It is, no doubt, Messina's international site that has prevented her from acquiring a distinctive character, such as most other Sicilian towns possess. Palermo, for example, is predominantly Norman in appearance, as Syracuse is Grecian, and Girgenti Arabic; but international Messina is neither Greek nor Roman, Norman, Arabic, nor Spanish, though it has elements of them all. Her commerce makes her a cosmopolite. Indeed, this combination of agreeable qualities perhaps accounts for her proverbial popularity; and no doubt Cicero merely voiced the sentiments of many before and since his time, when he described her, seventy years before Christ, as " Civitas maxima et completissima".
Exporting The Island's Product.
Sun-Protected Street Merchants.