Photographer's Note

Earthquakes have repeatedly destroyed the town of Messina but not its traditions. In fact the town preserves those festivals and feasts that recall the splendours of the 16th century. The most important event is the procession of the "Vara" which is held every year on the 15th of August. It is a very suggestive feast crowded with people. The day prior to the feast the mythical founders of Messina, the two giants "Mata e Grifone" are brought in procession.
Mata and Grifone are two figures, one a beautiful young lady, the other a Saracen soldier, on horseback. There are many versions of the legend of Mata and Grifone, some say they were the true founders of Messina, others that they were Muslim prisoners taken by the mercenary soldier Ruggero D'Altavilla in 1086. The most popular one brings us back in time to 964, when Messina was the last outpost in Sicily to resist Arab occupation. During the siege of Messina the Arab general, Hassan Ibn-Hammar, set his eyes upon Mata, the beautiful daughter of a local merchant. He fell hopelessly in love and forced her to marry him. The Saracen did all he could to captivate Mata but nothing would melt her heart until he converted to Christianity. He changed his name to Grifo, and soon became known as Grifone (Big Grifo) for obvious reasons. The two, Mata and Grifone, needless to say, had many children and lived happily ever after!

Today perhaps the legend is not politically (rectius: religious) correct but donít put the blame on me. I can only assure that the girls of Messina are really marvellous.

P.S The building behind the giants is the townhall.
P.P.S. I know that the sky is white: a pity, really but I am not able with PS.

jhm, Guenther, elihesamian, Jeppe has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Gae La Rocca (Zanni) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 896 W: 152 N: 1266] (6108)
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