April 25, 2012
Happy Liberation Day Sicily – Today they celebrate the 1943 landing of the Allied troops on Sicily and the beginning of its liberation.
Today we visited Tindari by way of Messina. Tindari is home to the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna. The story of how the Black Madonna arrived in Tindari
is the stuff that legends are made of. According to local tradition, the statue, which is certainly of Byzantine origin, was one of many works of art smuggled out of Constantinople in the 8th and 9th Centuries. A storm forced the ship carrying the Black Madonna into the port of Tindari, where the sailors deposited their load at the local abbey for safekeeping. She now sits behind the altar with the inscription “nigro sum sed formosa” (black am I, but beautiful). People still make pilgrimages to the Black Madonna.
At Tindari there is a wonderfully preserved Greco-Roman archaeological site which includes Roman habitations, thermal baths, as well as a Greek theatre and during the summer it is possible to see Greek plays. There are several mosaics that have survived and can be viewed in the baths.
We had lunch at a restaurant with stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands. While walking down the hill to the bus I stopped and got some fresh picked and roasted hazelnuts. I’ve never been a big fan of them but these tasted sooooo good – I couldn’t resist.
We stopped at Messina on the way back to our hotel. Messina is the closest point to the Italian mainland (2 miles). The main mode of transportation between the islands is ferries. There are even ferries that transport trains. The trains are broken down and then reassembled.
While we were at Messina there was a gathering of vintage Vespa enthusiasts. These people have taken broken down, rusting Vespas and brought them back to their original condition. This reduces the motor tax paid on them. Enrico went around and took photos as many of the Vespas, as he has two vintage Vespas himself that he has reconditioned.
No gelato today – just fresh roasted hazelnuts.