Welcome to the guide to taking trains to and from the elegant main station in Messina, the gateway to Sicily when heading to the island by train.
Those with an interest in 20th century Modernist architecture will find much to aesthetically admire about Messina Central, it’s arguably the best example of the station architecture of Angiolo Mazzoni, but it’s impossible for his work not be tainted by his strong connection to the Fascist regime of the 1930s.
What he created at Messina Centrale is eminently practical, the use of the stone work in the airy main hall creates an interior that can remain comparatively cool in the Italian summer heat – hence the station has been little altered since it opened in 1939.
One relatively recent and welcome addition has been the provision of elevators on the binari (platforms/tracks) used by the long-distance trains to and from the Italian mainland; so the access to these trains is step-free if you have heavy luggage etc.
The access to the majority of the binari is by using an underground passage way beneath the railway tracks.
One unusual aspect of taking a train from Messina Centrale occurs when taking a Regionale train from binaro (platforms/tracks) 1 and 2.
Once you’re on the binario (platform/track), it can be fairly obvious that the train you will be taking will be waiting, some distance away, at the far end of the platform/track.
But there’s no need to walk down to the train in order to board it, at the departure time it will proceed into the central part of the station, adjacent to the main hall, in order to pick up passengers.
The city centre is a 10-15 min walk from Messina Centrale
The cathedral and Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani can be accessed by walking along the street named Via Settembre, which leads off from the top right of the square in front of the station – the Piazza del Republica.
The city’s tram line travels down this street, so you can use its tracks as a guide that you’re heading in the right direction – though when the tram tracks bend round to the right, keep walking straight ahead.
There is little point in taking the tram to the area around the cathedral, the nearest stop to it, ‘Municipo’ is on the other side of the cathedral and it is a 5 - 7 min walk from there to the cathedral’s main entrance.
Though one attraction in the city which is best accessed by taking the tram is the main museum in Messina, the Museo Interdisciplinare Regionale Di Messina, as it’s located by the Annunziata stop, which is where the trams heading north terminate.
The beach in Messina can be accessed by taking the tram to the preceding stop named, Ringo.
The day and night trains from the Italian mainland are loaded on to special ferries for the sea crossing from Villa San Giovanni to Messina, they are scheduled to arrive in Messina Centrale station around 1hr 5mins after they arrive at Villa S. Giovanni.
But if you are on the first InterCity train of the day and won’t mind making an additional connection, there is a faster alternative to remaining on the train when travelling to Messina.
At Villa S. Giovanni stations there is a new foot bridge, on the opposite side of the station to the main buildings, which links the station to the terminal used by Blu Jet Ferries.
The hydrofoil fast ferries operated by Blu Jet are twice as fast as the train ferry, as they cross the Strait of Messina in only 20 minutes.
In the summer taking these ferries also avoids having to remain on the train, while it swelters in the sun; the air-conditioning is switched off on arrival at Villa S. Giovanni and isn’t switched back on until the train is about to depart from Messina Centrale.
The fast ferries are also timed to connect with the arrival in Villa San Giovanni of the faster Frecce trains from Roma and Napoli; so taking a combination of Frecce trains + the Blu Jet ferry is usually more than two hours faster on a Roma <> Messina journey than taking the direct InterCity train.
In Messina these fast ferries will arrive at the main ferry terminal, which is only a 5 min walk from Messina Centrale.
So when travelling to mainland Italy by train, taking these fast ferries to Villa S. Giovanni and joining the trains at the station there can be a good alternative to boarding the train at Messina Centrale.
The journey will typically be quicker and more comfortable; and there will also be a wider choice of departures.
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.