Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Map of Messina
 Here is a map of Messina from 1875 in my collection.
You may know that our family's fortunes were heavily wrapped up with Messina's.
It has always been a large port, a place to sell our products, but when Napoleon took over most of Italy, the British arrived in Messina to halt his further expansion.  At that time, the British and many others were nuts for fine wines, especially Port, Sherries and fine dessert wines.  As the islands produced Malvasia, a dried grape wine which can be drunk as a cordial or as a dessert wine, the British in Messina went nuts for the island wine.  Along with the other local products, Malvasia made the locals quite rich until an aphid brought a disease that killed most of the vines, and the economy in the islands all but collapsed. 
Messina was also the first port entered by the Pirate Red-beard after the depopulation of the islands in the 1500s.  It was here that some of the enslaved were ransomed or freed and were helped to return to the islands. 
Messina went through a devastating earthquake that made news all over the world in 1908.  It wiped out most of the city, leaving it a rather less than interesting city today.  It also hit Reggio in Calabria, across the strait on the mainland to a lesser degree.
This map obviously shows Messina some years before the quake leveled the town.  See the relationship with Reggio in the map inset at the left.  

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