Messina & The Riace Bronzes
On this full day trip we will head towards the gateaway of Sicily: Messina, the city of the Straight. Don't be afraid to be eaten up by the ancient Greek sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis since nowadays they are peaceful monsters! Our first stop is at the shrine of Cristo Re that was built on the ruins of the Matagrifone castle, of which a tower is still visible. The temple, built in Baroque style, dominates the city with its large dome and contains the remains of 1288 fallen soldiers of World War II. From the vantage point, you can enjoy the amazing view of the Strait and the sickle-like shape of the city's natural harbour. We will then move on to Piazza Duomo to see the 12th century Cathedral and its bell tower that remarkably holds the largest astronomical clock in the world. Every day at noon the animated mechanical statues narrate important events of civil and religious history of the city. After watching this amazing attraction we will embark our car on a ferry to reach the the italian peninsula. The 25-minute ride will give you just enough time to get out of the car and head up to the deck to enjoy this memorable and romantic moment. Once arrived in Reggio Calabria you can have lunch in one the local eateries along the promenade overlooking the sicilian coast. Then it will be time to enter the museum to finally admire "the most beautiful Greek bronze statues in the world, to the point that not even in the museum of Athens there is anything like that", as Salvatore Settis, a scholar of recognized international fame, declared. The halo of mystery surrounding the statues, the gorgeous blending of classical beauty and strong virility that was achieved in the Bronzes will leave the most demending traveller astonished.
Founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC, Messina was originally called Zancle, meaning "sickle" because of the shape of its natural harbour. In the early 5th century BC, Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene in honour of the Greek city he came from. The city was sacked in 397 BC by the Carthaginians and then reconquered by Dionysius I of Syracuse. In 264 BC, Roman troops were deployed to Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian Peninsula. At the end of the First Punic War it was a free city allied with Rome. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city was successively ruled by Goths from 476, then by the Byzantine Empire in 535, by the Arabs in 842, and in 1061 by the Norman brothers Robert Guiscard and Roger Guiscard (later count Roger I of Sicily). The city reached the peak of its splendour in the early 17th century, under Spanish domination: at the time it was one of the ten greatest cities in Europe. The city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and associated tsunami in 1908, killing about thousands of people and destroying most of the ancient architecture. The city was largely rebuilt in the following year. It incurred further damage from the massive Allied air bombardments of 1943.
The Riace bronzes are two full-size Greek statues of naked bearded warriors, cast about 460–450 BC that were found in the sea near Riace in 1972 by an amateur scuba diver from Rome.
The most popular theory about the origin of these masterpieces of Greek art is that two separate artists created the bronzes about 30 years apart around the 5th century BC. “Statue A” was probably created between the years 460 and 450 BC, and “Statue B” between 430 and 420 BC.
Some believe that “Statue A” was the work of Myron and that a pupil of Phidias, called Alkamenes, created “Statue B”.
Both statues were produced by the indirect rather than the direct method of casting. Since their discovery the two magnificient statues have been the subject of a lively scholarly debate, especially with regard to their original context, authorship and date.