Strait of Messina

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Satellite photo of the Strait of Messina with names. NASA image.

The Strait of Messina (Stretto di Messina in Italian language, Strittu di Missina in Sicilian) is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily (Punta del Faro) and the western tip of Calabria (Punta Pezzo) in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north with the Ionian Sea to the south, within the central Mediterranean. At its narrowest point, it measures 3.1 km (1.9 mi) in width, though near the town of Messina the width is some 5.1 km (3.2 mi) and maximum depth is 250 m (830 ft).

Fig. 1B: The Strait seen from the hill of "Pentimele", near Reggio Calabria. In the distance the snow covered Etna Volcano

A ferry service connects Messina on Sicily with the mainland at Villa San Giovanni, which lies several kilometers north of the large city of Reggio Calabria; the ferries hold the cars (carriages) of the mainline train service between Palermo and Naples. There is also a hydrofoil service between Messina and Reggio Calabria.

The strait is characterized by strong tidal currents, that established a unique marine ecosystem. A natural whirlpool in the Northern portion of the strait has been linked to the Greek legend of Scylla and Charybdis. In some circumstances, the mirage of Fata Morgana can be observed when looking at Sicily from Calabria.

The former electricity pylon on the Sicilian side of Messina Strait ("Torre Faro")

In 1957, a 220-kV overhead power line was built across the Strait of Messina. Its pylons are among the highest in the world. This powerline has since been replaced by a submarine power cable, but the pylons remain and are protected as historical monuments. (See Pylons of Messina.)

Planned Messina Bridge[edit]

For decades, the possibility of building a bridge across the Messina Strait has been under discussion. In 2006, under Prime Minister Romano Prodi the project was cancelled.[1] On 6 March 2009, however, as part of a massive new public works program, Silvio Berlusconi's government announced that plans to construct the Messina Bridge had been fully revived, pledging EUR 1.3 billion as a contribution to its estimated cost of EUR 6.1 billion[2] Some 3.3 km long and 60 m wide, the bridge would be supported by two 382 m pillars, each higher than the Empire State Building, and accommodate six freeway lanes, a railway (for up to 200 trains a day), and two walkways.

Supporters perceive the bridge as a huge job-creation scheme and a boost for tourism to the island. Opponents see it as an ecological disaster, a structure at risk due to especially strong winds and earthquakes (the area having an intense seismic record), and a boon for Sicilian and Calabrian organized crime. Berlusconi claimed in 2009 that work would be completed by 2016.[3]

The two cities of the strait in an old German engraving.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Italy drops Sicily bridge plans". BBC News. 12 October 2006. 
  2. ^ Italy revives Sicily bridge plan from BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  3. ^ Sicily to get longest bridge from TimesOnline. Retrieved 8 March 2009.

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 38°14′45″N 15°37′57″E / 38.24583°N 15.63250°E / 38.24583; 15.63250