Strait of Messina

The Strait of Messina (Italian: Stretto di Messina) is a narrow strait between the eastern tip of Sicily (Punta del Faro) and the western tip of Calabria (Punta Pezzo) in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north with the Ionian Sea to the south, within the central Mediterranean. At its narrowest point, between Torre Faro and Villa San Giovanni, it is 3.1 km (1.9 mi) wide. At the town of Messina it is 5.1 km (3.2 mi) wide. The strait's maximum depth is about 250 m (820 ft).

The strait has strong tidal currents that create a unique marine ecosystem.[1] A natural whirlpool in the northern portion of the strait has been linked to the Greek legend of Scylla and Charybdis.[2] In some circumstances, the mirage of Fata Morgana can be observed when looking at Sicily from Calabria. With its bottleneck shape, it is also a compulsory point of transit of the migration of many bird species.

In 1957, a 220 kV overhead power line was built across the Strait of Messina. Its pylons are among the highest in the world. This power line has since been replaced by a submarine power cable, but the pylons remain and are protected as historical monuments (see Pylons of Messina).

Strait of Messina
Satellite photo of the Strait of Messina with names. NASA image.
Strait of Messina is located in Sicily
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina is located in Calabria
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina is located in Italy
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina is located in Mediterranean
Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina
LocationTyrrhenian SeaIonian Sea
Coordinates38°14′45″N 15°37′57″E / 38.24583°N 15.63250°ECoordinates: 38°14′45″N 15°37′57″E / 38.24583°N 15.63250°E
Native nameStretto di Messina  (Italian)
Basin countriesItaly
Min. width3.1 km (1.9 mi)
SettlementsMessina, Villa San Giovanni, Reggio Calabria, Scilla, Calabria

Bird migration

Stretto di messina - bottleneck, sicilia, from the peloritani
The strait seen from Mount Dinnammare, Peloritani

The Strait of Messina is a focal point in the migrations of birds every year, who mainly cross the strait to reach their breeding grounds in northern Europe. Due to this form of bottleneck more than 300 species are recorded in the area, which is a major European hot spot for raptors, with a record of 35.000 in a spring.[3]

Among them the European honey buzzard and the marsh harrier are the most frequent, species like Bonelli's eagle and Egyptian vulture are less frequent but regular. In the coastal salt lakes of the Strait of Messina species like glossy ibis, flamingos and black-winged stilt stop to rest. The site is also favorable for observing storks. The Monte Dinnammare and the other Peloritani mountains overlooking the Strait are a natural theatre for birdwatching.

Marine life

Due to its unique hydrogeological conditions the Strait of Messina has high levels of biodiversity and multiple endemic species. In its waters there is a strong presence of deep sea fish like the Sloane's viperfish which, due to the particular and peculiar currents of the strait, are occasionally found stranded on the shore at sunrise. The strait is also an important point of migration of many species of fish in the Mediterranean Sea.


A ferry service connects Messina on Sicily with the mainland at Villa San Giovanni, which lies several kilometers north of the large city of Reggio Calabria; the ferries hold the cars (carriages) of the mainline train service between Palermo and Naples. There is also a hydrofoil service between Messina and Reggio Calabria.

For decades, the possibility of building a bridge across the Messina Strait has been under discussion. In 2006, under Prime Minister Romano Prodi the project was cancelled.[4] On 6 March 2009, however, as part of a massive new public works program, Silvio Berlusconi's government announced that plans to construct the Messina Bridge had been fully revived, pledging €1.3 billion as a contribution to its estimated cost of €6.1 billion[5] Some 3.3 km long and 60 m wide, the bridge would be supported by two 382 m pillars, each higher than the Empire State Building, and accommodate six freeway lanes, a railway (for up to 200 trains a day), and two walkways.

Supporters perceive the bridge as a huge job-creation scheme and a boost for tourism to the island. Opponents see it as an ecological disaster, a structure at risk due to especially strong winds and earthquakes (the area having an intense seismic record), and a boon for Sicilian and Calabrian organized crime. Berlusconi claimed in 2009 that work would be completed by 2016 although in February 2013, the project was cancelled again.[6]

Reggio calabria panorama dal fortino
The strait seen from the hill of "Pentimele", near Reggio Calabria. In the distance is snow-covered Mount Etna.

See also


  1. ^ TheSanti63 (25 August 2010), Correnti nello Stretto di Messina
  2. ^ Andrews, Tamra (2000). Dictionary of Nature Myths: Legends of the Earth, Sea, and Sky. Oxford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-19-513677-7. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  3. ^ Corso, Andrea. "European Birding Hot Spot: The Strait of Messina, southern Italy".
  4. ^ "Italy drops Sicily bridge plans". BBC News. 12 October 2006.
  5. ^ Italy revives Sicily bridge plan from BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  6. ^ Sicily to get longest bridge from TimesOnline. Retrieved 8 March 2009.

Further reading


The Aspromonte is a mountain massif in the province of Reggio Calabria (Calabria, southern Italy). The literal translation of the name means "rough mountain". But for others the name more likely is related to the Greek word Aspros (Άσπρος), meaning "white". It overlooks the Strait of Messina, being limited by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas and by the Pietrace river. The highest peak is Montalto (1,955 m). The constituting rocks are mostly gneiss, and mica schists, which form characteristic overlapping terraces. The massif is part of the Aspromonte National Park.

In the short coastal strip citrus fruits, vine and olives are grown, while at high elevations the vegetation is composed mostly by oak and holm oak under the 1,000 m, and by pine, Sicilian fir and beech over it. Olive trees grow in abundance. Also, the rare bergamot, the lemony-yellow fruit used in perfumes and flavoring for Earl Grey tea, only grows in the southern Aspromonte.

Points of attraction include the Gambarie ski resort (1,311 m) and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Polsi, in the comune of San Luca. Part of the population known as the Griko people have retained Greek culture and language (the so-called Griko language).

Giuseppe Garibaldi, landing here with 3,000 volunteers in his march towards Rome, was defeated and captured on August 29, 1862 in the Battle of Aspromonte.

Battle of the Strait of Messina

The Battle of the Strait of Messina was fought on 276 BC when a Carthaginian fleet attacked the Sicilian fleet of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who was crossing the strait to Italy. Pyrrhus had left Italy for Sicily on the Autumn of 278 BC and scored several major victories against the Carthaginian armies, but Roman successes against Pyrrhus' Italian allies convinced him to return to Italy.While Pyrrhus was transporting his troops to Rhegium his fleet of 110 decked warships and hundreds of transports was attacked by the Carthaginians. The Carthaginian navy sunk 70 of the Greek ships and damaged 28. Pyrrhus' surviving ships, amounting to 12 warships plus the transport ships, docked at Locri where he had left his son Alexander when he opened his Sicilian campaign.

Capo Peloro Lighthouse

Capo Peloro Lighthouse (Italian: Faro di Capo Peloro) is an active lighthouse located in Punta del Faro on the Strait of Messina, the most north-eastern promontory of Sicily, settled in the Province of Messina, the place closest to Calabria.


Charybdis (; Ancient Greek: Χάρυβδις, pronounced [kʰárybdis], Kharubdis) was a sea monster in the Greek Mythology, which was later rationalized as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard in the Strait of Messina.

Derby dello Stretto

The Derby dello Stretto is an association football derby in Southern Italy contested by Messina and Reggina. The phrase translates into English as Derby of the Strait, since the two clubs are based in the towns of Messina and Reggio Calabria on the opposite sides of the Strait of Messina which separates mainland Italy from Sicily.

The derby has mostly been played in lower level and cup competitions. Only six derbies have been played in Serie A, during the three seasons from 2004 to 2007 when both clubs played in the Italian top level. At the end of the 2006–07 season Messina were relegated, followed by Reggina in 2008–09. As of the 2016–17 season, both clubs play in Group C of the Lega Pro, one of the three regional groups of the Italian third level.

Dorsale dei Peloritani

The Dorsale dei Peloritani is a panoramic path that runs through the Peloritani mountains in Sicily around 1000 m of height for 70 km. Its origins are lost in time. It starts from Dinnammare mount over the Strait of Messina where there is the homonymous sanctuary and it ends at the Mt Rocca Salvatesta.

Fauna of Italy

Italy has the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. This is due to various factors. The Italian peninsula is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a corridor between central Europe and North Africa, and has 8,000 km of coastline. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contribute to high climate and habitat diversity.

Italian submarine chaser Albatros

Albatros was a submarine chaser of the Regia Marina built in 1930s which served during World War II. Later she was reclassified as a torpedo boat, most likely purely for administrative purposes.

Marine life of the Strait of Messina

The hydrology of the Strait of Messina accommodates a variety of populations of marine organisms. The intense currents and characteristic chemistry of the waters of the Strait determine an extraordinary biocoenosis in the Mediterranean Sea with a high abundance and diversity of species; the Strait of Messina, therefore constitutes an area of fundamental importance for biodiversity. Intense and alternate currents, the low temperature and an abundance of transported nitrogen and phosphorus transported to the surface from deep waters supports both pelagic and coastal benthic populations in a cycle of organic substance.

All this, with associated phenomena, determines an ecological rearrangement that simulates Atlantic conditions for species with a prevailing Western distribution. In fact, numerous primarily Atlantic species, for example the laminariae (large tawny algae), though also present in some other zones of the Mediterranean, succeed in forming true structured submarine forests only in the Strait of Messina and are evidence of the optimal environmental conditions there.


Messina (, also US: , Italian: [mesˈsiːna] (listen); Sicilian: Missina [mɪsˈsiːna]; Latin: Messana; Ancient Greek: Μεσσήνη, romanized: Messḗnē) is the capital of the Italian Metropolitan City of Messina. It is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, and the 13th largest city in Italy, with a population of more than 238,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the Metropolitan City. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland, and has close ties with Reggio Calabria. According to Eurostat the FUA of the metropolitan area of Messina has, in 2014, 277,584 inhabitants.

The city's main resources are its seaports (commercial and military shipyards), cruise tourism, commerce, and agriculture (wine production and cultivating lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges, and olives). The city has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite seat since 1548 and is home to a locally important international fair. The city has the University of Messina, founded in 1548 by Ignatius of Loyola.

Messina has a light rail system, Tranvia di Messina, opened on 3 April 2003. This line is 7.7 kilometres (4.8 mi) and links the city's central railway station with the city centre and harbour.

The city is home to a significant Greek-speaking minority, rooted in its history and officially recognised.

Monte Dinnammare

The Monte Dinnammare (1130 m) is the mountain that dominates the city of Messina on the eastern edge of Sicily, belonging to the Peloritani range. From its top it is possible to enjoy the panorama of the two seas, Ionian and Tyrrhenian, the Aeolian Islands, the Strait of Messina and Mount Etna. The Madonna of Dinnammare Sanctuary is located on its top and every third day of August, in the evening, a traditional procession starts from the village of Larderia in Messina to arrive at sunrise on the following day at the Sanctuary to celebrate the Madonna of Dinnammare with a mass.A few metres below the top of the mount an ancient path named Dorsale dei Peloritani starts, going through all the ridge line of the Peloritani mountains. The mount is a natural theatre for birdwatching of the birds that cross the Strait of Messina every year. Twenty kilometeres is the distance between the port of Messina and its top.

Operation Scylla

Operation Scylla (Italian: Operazione Scilla) was a successful Italian Navy attempt to transfer the light cruiser Scipione Africano from their bases in the Tyrrhenian Sea to Taranto, in the Ionian Sea, during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, in the course of World War II. The operation is notable for the night engagement between the Italian cruiser and four British motor torpedo boats during the passage of the strait of Messina, in the early hours of 17 July 1943. The action also marked the only time that an Italian warship made an effective combat use of surface radar in World War II.

Province of Reggio Calabria

The Province of Reggio Calabria (Italian: Provincia di Reggio Calabria) is a province in the Calabria region of Italy. It is the southernmost province in mainland Italy and is separated from the island of Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The Aspromonte massif dominates the western part, and with its long coastline, the province is a popular tourist destination during the summer. The capital is the city of Reggio.

It will be effectively replaced by the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria starting from 2018.

Punta Pezzo

Punta Pezzo is a point in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy. It is the closest point of Calabria to Sicily and is the northernmost point of the Calabrian side of the Strait of Messina, lying on the northern channel.

Santo Stefano in Aspromonte

Santo Stefano in Aspromonte is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Reggio Calabria in the Italian region Calabria, located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) southwest of Catanzaro and about 12 kilometres (7 mi) northeast of Reggio Calabria. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 1,382 and an area of 17.7 square kilometres (6.8 sq mi).

The municipality of Santo Stefano in Aspromonte contains the frazioni (subdivisions, mainly villages and hamlets) Gambarie and Mannoli.

Gambarie's ski resort is one of the closest to the sea in the world, as it is situated just over the Strait of Messina.

Santo Stefano in Aspromonte borders the following municipalities: Gambarie, Mannoli, Laganadi, Calanna, Sambatello, Reggio Calabria, Roccaforte del Greco, Sant'Eufemia d'Aspromonte, San Roberto, Sant'Alessio in Aspromonte, Scilla, Podargoni, Cerasi and Schindilifà.

Scilla, Calabria

Scilla (Calabrian: U Scigghiu; Greek: Σκύλλα, romanized: Skýlla) is a town and comune in Calabria, Italy, administratively part of the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria. It is the traditional site of the sea monster Scylla of Greek mythology.

The town, 22 kilometres (14 mi) from the city of Reggio, lies in front of the strait of Messina, and it is composed of two parts: the downtown, where the town offices and the residence of the patronal saint are situated, and Marina di Scilla, the beach-front, populated by tourists and thus heavily characterized by hotels and restaurants.

Since its beach is the first place north of Reggio Calabria where the waters are not cooled down by the strait draughts.

Scilla's coastal district of Chianalea is inscribed into I Borghi più belli d'Italia list.The Ruffo Castle, a fortress built by the Dukes of Calabria overlooks the beach. On a seaward-facing terrace is Scilla Lighthouse, an important aid to ships entering the Strait of Messina from the north.

The village suffered greatly from the 1783 Calabria earthquakes and the 1908 Messina earthquake.

Scilla Lighthouse

Scilla Lighthouse (Italian: Faro di Scilla) is an active lighthouse in Calabria just opposite of Capo Peloro Lighthouse which is on the Sicilian coast; both lighthouses direct the ships from the north into the Strait of Messina. The lighthouse is settled on the seaward side terrace of the Castello Ruffo di Scilla, in the town of Scilla on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Strait of Messina Bridge

The Strait of Messina Bridge is a long-planned suspension bridge across the Strait of Messina, a narrow section of water between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of mainland Italy, specifically between north Messina's Torre Faro and Villa San Giovanni. In 2006, under Prime Minister Romano Prodi, the project was cancelled. However, on 6 March 2009, as part of a massive new public works programme, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government announced that construction of the Messina Bridge would indeed go ahead, pledging €1.3 billion as a contribution to the bridge's total cost, estimated at €6.1 billion. The bridge would have been the longest suspension bridge in the world, almost doubling the main span of the Akashi-Kaikyo in Japan. The bridge would have been part of the Line 1 of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). Citing budget constraints, the project was cancelled again on 26 February 2013, by Prime Minister Mario Monti's government.

Strait of Messina metropolitan area

The Metropolitan Area of Strait of Messina (Area Metropolitana dello Stretto di Messina, in Italian), is the urban agglomeration around the Strait of Messina, and is one of the most populated and important areas of Southern Italy. It includes part of the Province of Messina, in Sicily, and part of the Province of Reggio Calabria, in Calabria.


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