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Satellite photo of the Strait of Messina with names. NASA image.

The Strait of Messina (Strittu di Missina in Sicilian, Stretto di Messina in Italian) is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria in the south of Italy. At its narrowest point, it measures 3.1 km (1.9 miles) in breadth, though near the town of Messina the breadth is some 5.1 km (3.2 miles) and maximum depth is 250 m (830 ft). A natural whirlpool in the strait has been linked to the legend of Scylla and Charybdis.

A ferry connects Messina on Sicily with the mainland at Villa San Giovanni and Reggio in Calabria. There is also a hydrofoil service from Messina to Reggio.

The former electricity pylon on the Sicilian site of Messina Strait ("Torre Faro")

In 1957 a 220-kV overhead powerline was built across the Strait of Messina. Its pylons are among the highest in the world. This powerline has since been replaced by a submarine power cable, but the pylons are still there and are protected as national monuments. (See Pylons of Messina.)

The Strait is narrow enough for the mainland to be seen quite clearly from Sicily

In some circumstances the mirage of Fata Morgana can be seen looking to Sicily from Calabria.

The planned Messina Bridge

For years, the possibility of building a bridge across the Messina Strait has been under discussion. In 2006, under Prime Minister Romano Prodi the project was cancelled.[1]. However, on 6 March 2009, as part of a massive new public works programme, Silvio Berlusconi's government announced that plans to construct the Messina Bridge had been fully revived, pledging EUR 1.3 billion as a contribution to its estimated cost of EUR 6.1 billion euros.[2]

Some 3.3 km long and 60 m wide, the bridge would be supported by two 382 m pillars, each higher than the Empire State Building. There would be six motorway lanes, a railway for up to 200 trains a day and two walkways.

Supporters see the bridge as a huge job-creation scheme and a boost for tourism. Opponents say it will be an ecological disaster, vulnerable to high winds, earthquakes and tidal waves, and a boon for the mafia. Berlusconi believes work will be completed by 2016.[3]

The two cities of the strait in an old German engraving.

References

Further reading

Coordinates: 38°14′45″N 15°37′57″E / 38.24583°N 15.6325°E / 38.24583; 15.6325

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