A Walking Tour of Milazzo
The structure was extensively renovated in the 1980s and 1990s. The castle sits on a rocky promontory with a view towards all directions and features imposing stone walls aimed at deterring any possible invaders. The main area of the castle was closed to the public at this time of day (siesta time) and would not reopen until 3 pm, but we walked through some of the impressive stone gates and covered walkways that take you to the inner courtyards of the castle. The view from the castle’s south side towards the Nebrodi Mountains and Mount Etna was stunning. The snowy fields at the top of Mount Etna were clearly visible and not a single cloud was concealing Europe’s largest volcano.
View of Mount Etna from the castle
Close to the castle is an entertainment area that features many different bars and restaurants. Although quiet now, this area becomes vibrant and alive at night time. We continued our walk further north along the peninsula and Franco took us to a private residential complex where Laboratorio Linguistico rents some villas for some of its language students. Hidden behind a big steal gate is a beautiful estate with gorgeous gardens and subtropical flowers that features several houses that can be rented by foreign travelers. Franco introduced us to an older couple who was also here to study Italian, and their abode on the edge of the cliff with a perfect westward view of the Sicilian coastline, featuring Milazzo Castle towards the south, was breathtaking.
We decided to explore the western side of the Milazzo peninsula and took a steep path down towards the beach, with Milazzo Castle looming overhead on our left hand side. The flat pebbly beach is several kilometers long and on this Saturday afternoon was quite deserted. Only a few sun worshipers were out and enjoying their time on the waterfront. The water had a light blue turquoise colour to it, but when we looked closer we saw huge swarms of jellyfish washing ashore all along the coastline. That may have explained the reason for the absence of bathers.
A quiet beach in Milazzo
After this extensive walk in the warm sun it was time for another granita, a typical Sicilian treat featuring crushed ice in a variety of flavours. So Claudia and I walked towards downtown again and found a little local bar where we sat down for a solid hour or so to relax and enjoy a cool drink Franco and Agnieszka had already proceeded back towards the apartment, while the two of us, real sailing buddies, were enjoying our last afternoon together since Claudia was going to fly back to Germany early tomorrow morning. We both realized how much we had enjoyed this sailing trip and what an intense experience this kind of trip can be.
On our way back we passed by the Piazza Roma and the Monumento ai caduti (Monument to the Fallen Soldiers), constructed in 1924 during Italy’s fascist era. Back at the apartment we cooked up some pasta with fresh tomatoes and enjoyed our home-cooked meal.
The Monumento ai caduti
Our late afternoon lunch eliminated the need for a dinner, but we still planned to take one final walk through Milazzo before Claudia’s departure. Around 8 pm we admired the daily ritual of the “passegiata”, the daily stroll where men, women, children, families and seniors come out, many of them dressed to the nines, to stroll along the Lungomare. This time-honoured ritual exists in most Italian communities and is a perfect opportunity to see and be seen. Many older men sit together on benches, discussing the latest in news and sports, while women walk together, probably debating issues of church and family.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore
A large crowd was gathered at the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore since the Madonna of Fatima was on display in the church. The church was lit up beautifully and many pious locals were streaming into the church to pay their respect. We strolled around in the area close to Milazzo Castle, and many of the restaurant’s patios and terraces were full of people socializing, talking, and having fun.
A special guest appearance by the Madonna di Fatima
The pleasant evening turned into a beautiful starry night and we stood on top of the castle hill and looked out over the surrounding panorama, captivated by the twinkling lights of the city and the lights farther way in the surrounding mountains. Our bonding session, which had begun on the sailing trip, continued, and we decided that if I am ever in the Frankfurt / Mannheim area I would definitely visit Claudia, while she would always be welcome here in Toronto.
Night falls over Milazzo
Around midnight we finally plopped into bed, rather exhausted. Claudia was going to leave early tomorrow morning while I was planning to take the train to the medieval town of Cefalu. After our intense experiences we definitely needed the rest…