Messina, Sicily

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Messina is considered the third largest city on the Island of Sicily. This particular city is located near the North-East corner of Sicily, resting on the Strait of Messina. The city occupies 240,000 inhabitants, and about 500,000 in the metropoliatian area. Messina was founded by Greek Colonists in the 8th century BC. Messina did not always have its name. The greeks first called Messina Zancle, from the Greek meaning "scythe", because of the shape of the harbour. In the early 5th century BC, Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene in honor of the Greek city Messene. Like all of Sicily, Messina has a long, rich history dating to before the time of the Ancient Greeks. The First Punic War was started in Messina when the city was invaded by mercenaries from Campania. The people of Messina called on the Roman's to assit in their defense. Messina then became an important port for the Romans in their domination of the Mediterrean. Expanded to form an thriving port city during the Greek Colozination of Sicily, Messina remained prominent for centuries. The Romans recognized its stragetic importance. In mythology, Scylla and Carybdis threatened the intrepid Odyesseus at the Strait of Messina, which Hercules swam and the Argonauts sailed. Throughout the Middle Ages, Messina was the most important port of departure for European knights on their way to the Crusades. Such a Crusade prompted the visit of Richard the Lionheart and King Philip II of France in 1190. Generally ignored by historians is the fact that the two monarchs and their crusader knights sacked Messina on that occasion. Messina remained the second most important city of Sicily until the seventeenth century, when its position was challenged by Catania. There were fleeting periods when Messina's economic and political power rivaled that of Palermo. Messina has often been associated with its disasters. The bubonic
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