Duomo and  fountain - Messina
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MESSINA

The City developed around an amphitheatre at the foot of the Monti Peloritani (hills), in the interior and south of a roadstead well protected by an alluvial peninsula, shaped like a scythe (the San Ranieri peninsula) ending at the point of San Leonardo), constructed by the debris transported from the numerous coastal furnaces and accumulated by sea waves. It was then lengthened and amplified towards the South.

Founded with the name Zancle (in Greek Zànklpiattoe, scythe, due to the shape of the peninsula which enclosed the harbour) from Calcidesi of Cuma, Nasso and Eubea (around 725 BC), it developed quickly, founding its colonies one at a time: Mylài (Milazzo), between the end of the 8th Century BC and the beginning of the 7th, and that of Imera, in approximately 648. Around 493, the Sami and Milesi refugees who had found shelter in Zancle, took over the City with the support of Anassila of Reggio. Shortly afterwards, Zancle fell into the hands of the same Anassila, who instead of the Sami and Milesi, installed numerous Esuli Messeni. The City then became known as Messàna or Messpiatacuenpiattoe and took on a prevalent Doric characteristic. Regardless of internal feuds, the City arrived at a high level of prosperity until it was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 396. It was then rebuilt almost immediately by Dionigi il Vecchio of Siracusa, then became a subject of Dione, Ippone, Timoleonte and finally of Agatocle, which after his death, then passed hands to the Mamertini (around 288). In approximately 265 it was defeated by Gerone II of Siracusa, and then asked for help, first from the Carthaginians and then the Romans, who freed the City from further siege by Gerone II and the Carthaginians. This conflict was the origins of the First Punic Wars (264-241), at the end of which, Messana was proclaimed a free and federate City. After the splendour of the Roman era, the City continued to have great importance under the Byzantines. It was then taken by the Saracens (83) who ruled the City for another two centuries, until the arrival of the Normans (1061). From that moment, Messina began a period of prosperity as a commercial emporium. When Sicily passed on the dominion of the Svevi around the end of the 12th Century, Messina rebelled many times in an attempt to keep its free development. After having played a notable part in the Vespri Siciliani (Sicilian Vespers), the City was besieged by the King of Sicily Carlo I d’Angiò (July-September 1282), who though, was unsuccessful in conquering it, due to the addition of the Aragonese (Aragone’s) mercantile fleet. During the 14th Century, it was given the honour of becoming the capital of the Aragonese. But the ample municipal freedom, which Messina enjoyed, wasn’t looked upon favourably by the Spanish, who attempted to suppress her. This provocated a rebellion against them (1674); the Messinese, helped by King Luigi 14th, who sent a fleet under the command of Admiral Duquesne, resisted for four years and capitulated in 1678. Following this, Messina lost its importance for many years, then slowly began to flourish again, yet at the same time hit by various calamities: in 1743 by the Plague and in 1783 damaged by an earthquake. Messina was strongly oppressed by the government of the Bourbons, who turned it into a military centre; it then participated in the insurrectional revolts of 1820-1821 and 1847-1848; in September 1848 the City was occupied by the Bourbonic troops led by C. Filangieri after a heavy bombardment, which was ordered by King Ferdinando II. It was liberated only in July 1860 by the Garibaldine forces led by General Giacomo Medici.
After undergoing serious damage by a further earthquake in 1894, it was completely destroyed by an even more devastating one on 28 December 1908. It was then rebuilt, only to be seriously damaged again during the course of the Second World War, after heavy aerial and land bombing. It was occupied by the allied troops on 17th August 1943.

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