Milazzo, Sicily; a city of three parts: ancient, medieval and modern

Photo of Milazzo

Visit Milazzo

Milazzo is an important town situated on the coast of north-east Sicily - or rather three 'towns', because Milazzo falls into three parts according to age: at the top of the hill stands the ancient walled city; below it stands the medieval town; while further down again, around the harbour, is the modern town of Milazzo. Each region has its places of interest but your visit will focus on the older parts of the town.

Explore Milazzo

The surroundings of Milazzo are somewhat industrial but persevere to the old town and you will be rewarded with many fine sights. There is a fortified citadel that dominates the medieval part of Milazzo, and numerous important buildings including several churches.

Milazzo town and harbour

The first church that you encounter during your visit is the 18th century Shrine of Saint Francesco di Paola, with a facade with a curved staircase, and containing a decorative altar and some fine works of art.

The 16th century Palace of the Viceroy in the old town was modified in the 18th century to add the baroque style balconies - the church you can see from the palace is the Church of SS. Salvatore (18th century). A little way along the road called Via S. Domenico you see the 16th century (rebuilt in the 18th century) Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, with 18th century frescoes.

Continue along the same road to reach Milazzo Castle, surrounded by imposing walls - the first walls you see are the Spanish walls. The castle was built from the first half of the 16th century onwards by the then viceroy of Sicily, Duke Ettore Pignatelli but only completed towards the end of the century after his death, and contains various stables, warehouses, reservoirs and prison cells.

The fort was actually originally begun on the site by the Arabs in the 10th century, on the site of a Greek acropolis that stood here in antiquity. The 360° views from the top of the castle are simple stunning and well worth the walk up to the top of the town.

Inside the Spanish walls we find the 'Old Cathedral', dating from the first decade of the 17th century. The cathedral church has the structure of a Greek cross and a central dome, columns with Corinthian capitals and some friezes probably carved by artists from Syracuse. Note also the angels in the shrine above the cathedral portal.

Next are the Aragonese city walls, from the 15th century and characterized by the five towers. Within these walls is a castle built by Frederick II of Swabia - the arched portal is surmounted by the coat of arms of Aragon.

Milazzo cathedral

Before leaving the upper parts of the town walk round the walls to the section facing the promonory and you will find the 'Scarabeo', a scarab beetle carved in black larva. It marks the spot where the sun rises on the summer solstice.

Heading now towards the lower part of Milazzo we find the more recent, 18th century, part of the town centred around the 'Piazza Caio Duilio'. this square has the Palazzo Marchese Proto on the western side and the Chiesa del Carmine to the east - the latter noteworthy for the decorative lintel in the portal. also we find the 'New Cathedral', built in the 1930's but containing much older medieval paintings.

Passing through the region known as Vaccarella and the waterfront in Milazzo, there is a road that heads towards Cape Milazzo offering lovely views, while in the other direction the coastal road continues to the 'Cave of Polyphemus'. This is said to be the place referred to by Homer as the place where the battle between Ulysses and the Cyclops took place.

Milazzo coast

After all that time exploring Milazzo you will be pleased to find yourself near the Bay of Tono and a popular beach. The coast to the north of Milazzo is a beautiful stretch of rocky coves and clear blue water. The area is popular with scuba divers as the sea is teeming with marine life.

Places to Visit Nearby

The ferry to the Aeolian Islands sets off from Milazzo. The trip is well worth taking to explore this delightful group of 7 islands. Lipari is the biggest and most popular of the seven. Stromboli, Panarea and Filicudi are also popular islands with visitors. Stromboli has a 'live' volcano that you can visit!

Where is Milazzo?

Milazzo is close to mainland Italy in the north-east of Sicily. It is about 40km from Messina.

See also:

Map of Milazzo & places nearby

Selected places to visit in or near Milazzo, Sicily