Sicily, with its wealth of breathtaking landscapes and natural treasures, is world famous for its timeless beauty. Among its many wonders, there is one place that attracts visitors by mixing culture and spirituality. We are in Tindari, a fascinating village characterized by a thousand-year history. Ready to take a trip with Sicilian Secrets?
There are places whose origins are lost in time, covered by a veil of mythology and a sprinkle of history. This is the case of Tindari, a small hamlet located on the northeastern coast of Sicily, in the province of Messina. A village where you can find unique monuments and mysteries that seduce anyone lucky enough to visit. Before even delving into the streets, it is interesting to know more about the place name. Why Tindari? The name comes from the Greek Tyndarís, which later became Tyndárion and was thus found in some of the writings of Strabo and Ptolemy. The reference brings back the legendary Spartan king Tyndarís and his lineage, to which the Dioscuri, whom we all know as the ‘Gemini’ of the zodiac, are also said to have belonged. A few people know, however, that Castor and Pollux were also known as the ‘Tindarids’!
Tindari, mite ti so
Fra larghi colli pensile sull’acque
Delle isole dolci del dio,
e ti chini in cuore
– S. Quasimodo (Vento a Tindari)
Tindari: a mix of history and mystery
Tindari stands out for its rich history spanning several eras taking us back, with the earliest settlements, to the Bronze Age. Officially founded by the ancient Greeks in the 4th century B.C. by Dionysius I of Syracuse, the city prospered during the Roman Age becoming a naval base of the military Sextus Pompey and later a colony under Emperor Augustus. Called Colonia Augusta Tyndaritanorum it was apprised by Cicero as ‘nobilissima civitas’.
Byzantine, then Arab and destroyed by them. Coming to the present day, a milestone for Tindari, however, is the construction of its Basilica Santuario di Maria Santissima del Tindari, begun in the 1950s on the same area where the town’s primitive fortress once stood. At the top of the hill, overlooking the small lakes of Marinello, the shrine houses the Byzantine statue of the Black Madonna of Tindari. The sculpture, an object of great devotion, is said to have been transported by sea and prevented the ship, which took refuge in Tindari, from setting sail again so that the crew would not succumb in a storm.
The miraculous fame of the Black Madonna soon spread, numerous pilgrims were ready to pay homage to her. Today, it is worth organizing your own trip to this village on September 7th and 8th so you can participate firsthand in the celebrations for the Virgin and immerse yourself in an atmosphere of faith and devotion that permeates the entire community.
Monumenti e paesaggi da cartolina
Oltre alla sua rilevanza spirituale, Tindari offre anche una serie di monumenti e attrazioni che catturano l’immaginazione dei visitatori. Uno dei punti di riferimento più famosi è il Teatro Greco-Romano, che offre una vista mozzafiato sul Mar Tirreno. Edificato alla fine del IV secolo a.C. e modificato sotto i romani, divenne la sede dei classici giochi dell’Anfiteatro visto che poteva accogliere circa 3mila spettatori!
Per lungo tempo venne abbandonato e quasi se ne dimenticò la sua grandiosità, ma dal 1956 è la location di un festival artistico dove godere di performance musicali, di danza e chiaramente di puro teatro.
Postcard-perfect monuments and landscapes
In addition to its spiritual significance, Tindari also counts several monuments and attractions that capture the imagination of visitors. One of the most famous landmarks is the Greek-Roman Theater, which offers breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Built at the end of the 4th century B.C. and modified under the Romans, it became the venue for the classic Amphitheater games since it could seat about 3,000 spectators!
For a long time it was abandoned and its grandeur was almost forgotten, but since 1956 it has been the location of an arts festival where musical, dance and clearly pure theater performances can be enjoyed.
Finally, the archaeological remains of the old Roman block, the Roman baths and the acropolis are undoubted silent witnesses to the splendor of this city. The view from the top of the hill of Tindari is an unforgettable experience, with the sea stretching to the horizon and the Aeolian Islands emerging in all their majesty.
Are you curious…?
Before leaving Tindari, those who love more or less credible stories cannot miss a stop at the Marinello nature reserve. A sandy area with some lakes that is the background of many legends. One of these talks about a cave that, according to local rumors, was inhabited by a cruel sorceress accustomed to luring sailors with her singing and then killing them by tearing them apart with cruelty. Creepy! To find out the other stories…go!
Tindari, in conclusion, also frequently recurs in literature. Let’s recall Salvatore Quasimodo’s poem ‘Vento a Tindari’ and Andrea Camilleri’s novel ‘La gita a Tindari’, one of the gripping adventures of the Inspector Montalbano.