Venue

The conference will take place at the University of Messina, in the downtown of Messina, home of Sicilian Baroque style.

Messina is a city wearing well its age, but was born in distant 750 BC under the name of Zancle, which in Greek means “sickle”. By looking at the shape of our port, you can easily understand the reason! Its strategic location allowed a rapid growth of the city, thus attracting the expansionist ambitions of the tyrant of Reggio. It was then conquered and its name changed to Messeni. Peace did not last long: years went by along with wars and victories, alliances and betrayals. After three Punic wars, the Romans finally conquered Sicily and liberated Messina, which became an ally of Rome and exempted from tributes (envious, huh?). Even Cicero –a real foodie– fell in love with the city, which he called “the greatest and richest”.

 

The Saracens then succeeded in conquering the city, subsequently changing its face. For instance, “Chiesa Annunziata dei Catalani” (Church of the Annunciation of the Catalans) was transformed into a mosque (subsequently rebuilt again as Christian), many monasteries were sacked and the city fortified. After the Arabs, the Norman took over, as proved by many monuments. It was a prosperous time for the city: a sign of this was that the Mint of Messina coined money valid throughout the Kingdom, with the proud inscription “Messana Nobilis Siciliae Caput”.

The War of Vespers put an end to the Sicilian peacefulness and the whole city was called to arms, but really all of it! Do not think of the Sicilian women as scared and defenseless maidens! The women of Messina were protagonists in the battle and became famous for their heroism: you can find, on the roof of the Cathedral, the statues of Dina and Clarenza, as living proof of their valor!

Sacks and terrible plagues, put the city down on its knees, and then two fresh earthquakes followed. The one in 1908 killed 70,000 people. Then the Second World War came, and once again Messina was on its knees, but once again it was rebuilt by the untameable earth of its inhabitants. When you walk on its streets, think of the many trials endured by the city: breath in the history of brave men and women that never bent their heads neither to tyrants, nor to calamities, and relentlessly rebuilt Messina with passion, courage and strength.

As soon as you arrive in Taormina, you will feel the magical, mythical atmosphere spread all around which has enchanted visitors from all over the world for years and years.

Settled on a hill of the Monte Tauro, Taormina dominates two grand, sweeping bays below and on the southern side, the top of Mount Etna, the European highest active volcano, often capped with snow, offering to the visitors a breathtaking, dramatic and memorable view over almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean sea. Taormina really seems to be born as a tourist resort since past times, when ancient people like the Sicels, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards chose it as their residential site thank to its favourable position, mild climate and magic atmosphere. Nowadays visitors can still find fine examples of Taormina’s golden times: the splendid Greek Theatre, the Roman “Naumachiae”, the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò, the 16th century Palace of the Dukes of Saint Stefano, the public gardens, the “Badia Vecchia” (Ancient Abbey) and many others.