Just three miles off the coast of southern Italy’s mainland is the port town of Messina on the island of Sicily. This bustling town has a complex history with roots in Greek mythology but, because of an earthquake in the early 1900s, it’s a relatively young city architecturally. Since the majority of the city has been rebuilt or refurbished within the last 100 years, you’ll find the town has an interesting blend of new architecture and old styles.
A promontory juts out from the west of Messina into the harbor with the remains of a citadel called the Fort of San Salvatore, which was built in 1681. It forms the base for a 60-meter octagonal column erected in 1934, topped by a statue of the Madonna della Lettera. Locals call it the Madonnina, little Madonna. Inscribed on the monument is "Vos et ipsam civitatem benedicimus" (We bless you and your city), a quote from a letter the Virgin Mary was believed to have sent the people of Messina. The pillar can be reached on foot by crossing over the tracks at the railroad station, although it is better to use the boat service.