The Greeks, the founders of seafaring Messina The fate of Messina has always been inextricably linked to its role on the strait. The first records date back to the Bronze Age but with the arrival of the Greeks in 740 BC the city takes on that seafaring role that suits it best. The first total destruction of the city took place in 396 BC by the Carthaginians of Himilco; the new Messina was born in the same year with Dionysius of Syracuse, who repopulated the city with about 6000 settlers. In 263 BC Messina became the first city in Sicily in the hands of Rome and with the passage of the Empire to Byzantium operated by Constantine, Messina was ruled by local magistrates said Stratigoti. The 476 with the fall of the Western Roman Empire coincides for Sicily and Messina with the beginning of a long series of barbarian invasions interrupted by the Byzantine domination which returned to Messina dignity and to its port the central role in the trade with the East. Guiscard brings the city back to the top In 843 Messina capitulated to Arab attacks and in 1037 Georgio Maniace with the help of the Greeks of Calabria and the Normans of Apulia liberated most of eastern Sicily, starting the process that led to the conquest of the island by Robert Guiscard and Count Ruggero in 1061. The coming of the Normans brings back the city to the top and gives it a series of trade privileges that brought in the city merchants of Pisa, Genoa, Amalfi, Armenians, Greeks and Jews, all well reflected in the urban toponymy. In those years, the port in the strait hosted fleets on their way to the Holy Land for the Crusades. Still in the Swabian period Messina consolidated its privileged position with the granting of the free port by Henry VI and the resulting free import and export of goods. The Academy of Frederick to purify the vulgar In 1231, under the auspices of Frederick II, in Palermo and Messina the “Academy” was created, commonly called ” Sicilian poetic school,” “with the task of purifying and give a better form to the Italian vernacular’; with this definition it is usually defined the establishment of the first real school of poetry in Italy made of artists from all over Italy, but especially Southerners, who lived and composed at the school of Frederick II and then of his son Manfred. Great was the cultural industry in the thirteenth century when the vulgar started to go alongside the Latin of the classical tradition. This was not a language yet, and it took shape according to the subjects treated, now religious and now chivalric, now theological, philosophical hour or scientific. So the vernacular literature was still too varied and diverse to be able to start a real literary tradition; the language was not yet a common vernacular across the peninsula, but just the dialect used by each writer. The Sicilian dialect, language of love The school is called the Sicilian not because the artists were only Sicilian, but because the language used to compose and rhyme was the Sicilian dialect and it was born and flourished at the court of the king of Sicily. These poets who sang of love have a special feature: many of them were natives of Messina. It is, probably, the first academy that is located in Messina, but it is certainly the first in the whole peninsula. Among the many merits of the poets who worked at the court of Frederick II are the composition of the first Italian poetry; the presence of the first Italian poetess, Nina da Messina; the invention of the sonnet by Jacopo da Lentini; the artistic birth of the first Italian “troubadours”. The major poets of the Academy can be considered Guido and Odo delle Colonne, Ruggieri d’Amici, Stefano Pronotaro, Tommaso di Sasso, Mazzeo di Ricco, e Filippo da Messina. The Angevins and the Aragonese The Angevin domination saw Messina initially far from the fighting of the Vespers, but subsequently the city participated in the expulsion of the French. Meanwhile, Peter of Aragon, who was elected King by the Sicilian parliament, went to the defence of Messina managing to make Charles of Anjou retreat. Out with Martin II the Aragonese dynasty, the island capitulated in 1412 to Ferdinand of Castile. Later, the government of the island was entrusted to the viceroys. Austrian domination In 1516 with Charles V Sicily came under Austrian rule and began a period of great splendour for a town forgotten over the years. In 1571 in the harbour of the city gathered the ships of Christendom, which defeated the Turks at the battle of Lepanto. The defeat of the Turks, thus eliminating the danger of raids, transforms the appearance of Messina which abandons its role as a fortified city substituting its own walls overlooking the harbour with the so-called Palazzata consisting of a long series of elegant buildings crowning the port. The decline at the hands of the Spaniards The Spaniards, to whom Messina was allocated by the Treaty of Nimeg, deprived Messina of all its privileges, its political and cultural institutions and ultimately of its splendour. The various governments that followed in the years to come could not in any way revive the fortunes of the city. The Risorgimento (Resurgence) On September 1st, 1847 in Messina began the Italian Risorgimento, however, only in January 1848 there was the real revolt in which Messina was able to conquer almost all the forts, but eventually the city was forced to surrender to the Bourbons. The Bourbon rule ends on July 27th, 1861 with the entry into the city of General Giuseppe Garibaldi and the arrival of Vittorio Emanuele II who formalising the Unification of Italy. The Suez Canal and Messina The opening of the Suez Canal, in 1869, certainly damages the port of the strait, but in 1899 Messina believes it has found a role in the new political order: the first ferryboats start operating in order to connect in a stable manner the island to the mainland. The courage and love of Messina’s inhabitants At 5.21 of the 28th December 1908 Messina was literally destroyed by a terrible earthquake and an almost simultaneous tsunami: nearly 80,000 people perished, but to counter the silly proposals of not rebuilding the city, there was on the part of the surviving an iron will not to abandon Messina but try and repopulate it, and restore its former glory.