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Gioiosa Marea, Province of Messina, Sicily

A seaside holiday and fishing resort on the Tyrrhenian coast between Capo d'Orlando and the Golfo di Patti, it is well known for its citrus fruits, olives and fruit. Gioiosa Marea evolved from the second half of the 18th century onwards, when people migrated here from the village of the same name founded in 1366 by Vinciguerra Aragona on the Capo Calavà promontory, which was severely damaged in the 1783 earthquake.

Info

  • Population: about 7,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 98063
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0941

History

Known by the Romans as Joiusa, probably a small oppidum used to control agricultural works, the town probably rose on the Monte di Guardia as a strategic garrison, since the old name was «Gioiosa Guardia». This inaccessible position was certainly chosen at the time of pirate raids in the Mediterranean, and since there was no water on the mountain, still today it is possible to see the many cisterns used to collect rain water.

After the ruinous earthquake of 5 february 1783, the fourth in the century, and a disastrous locust invasion that caused a terrible famine, what was left of the population decided to reconstruct their town on the coast, where they established a fishing community that developed in recent years into a pleasant tourist resort.

What to see

  • The ruins of the Aragonese castle on Monte Meliuso
  • The Torre Vinciguerra, established as a fortress by founder Vinciguerra Aragona in 1366.
  • Gioiosa Vecchia, 800 m a.s.l., on a natural fortified position, on capo Calavà, used as a sighting post, together with the castles of Patti and Tindari, to control all sea routes from Sicily to the Aeolian islands and the Italian peninsula.
  • The Grotto of Gioiosa Marea, consisting of three separate chambers connected through corridors and tunnels, with a wondrous number of stalactites and stalagmites of great beauty.

Where to stay