MESSINA, ITALY BY GIOVANNI RIZZO:
Similarly to Giovanni Rizzo’s dreamlike illustration style, the harbour city of Messina is as if it was pulled straight frommythology. Situated in north-eastern Sicily, the old Mediterranean city is separated from the mainland which lends furtherfascination to the region. Messina is best known for the Norman Messina Cathedral and Bell Tower with construction ofthe building dating as far back as the 12th century.
Rizzo was born in the city and distinctly remembers the “lion roar” of the bell’s mechanisms churning, shortly followed bya chorus of Schubert’s “Ave Maria”. “Sometimes it can be heard through the entire town thanks to the wind,” Rizzo says.
Marble fountains can be frequently found throughout the city decorated by revered mythical gods. Messina’s Fountain ofNeptune is perhaps the most renowned and depicts the famous sea god, overlooking the Ionian Sea. It is here where Rizzo also recalls another childhood memory which hasformed the inspiration for his painting; watching the swordfish boats pass by.
“When I was a child I used to see the old swordfish boats sailing through the Strait,” Rizzo says. “They were special boats with a very high mast where a sailor was standing to spot swordfishes.”
The local seafood is what makes up much of the cuisine in Messina, while braciolettine – breaded and roasted beef roll stuffed withcheese – is a dish that can’t be found anywhere else in Sicily. But if you ask Rizzo for his favourite meal, it is focaccia and ironically, a lockdown obsession for many people worldwide.
The artist suggests an iteration of Messina’s local cheese, tuma, sliced fresh tomatoes, escarole and anchovies. “All the bakeries make itand it’s inexpensive,” Rizzo says.
After a long day of walking in and around the city’s glistening waterfront, the smell of local jasmine flower wafting in the wind fromthe surrounding mountains, Rizzo says a fresh slice of focaccia is best served with Messina’s salt crystal beverage.
Follow Giovanni Rizzo @giovanni.rizzo.illustrazioni
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