TRANSFEERO: Reliable airport transfers worldwide
Book a private transfer at over 1500 airports, stations and ports worldwide

Mascali rises in the middle of the woods, and from the woods it took its Greek name (which means “something bushy”). But the woods you see today around the town, overlooking the eastern coast of Sicily, are not the same millenarians that saw it a sit was born. These trees have risen amidst recent lava stones and volcanic ash. And Mascali itself has also risen from its own ashes like a Phoenix bird. Because in 1928 this small town was devoured by a terrible side eruption of Mount Etna which, for the first time in Italy, showed everyone the power of the volcano.

History of Mascali

Today we know, from recent findings, that Mascali was already inhabited in the early Christian era but the official historical sources date its foundation to the 6th century (year 593). Then, a monastery was built right here and the actual village was built close to it. After the conquest and the following Arab oppression, the monastery and the village of Mascali rose again in the 12th century. They were first assigned to the bishop of Troina, then to Catania, then to Messina. It would eventually pass with the newly formed Diocese of Acireale in the 19th century.

The “hill of fertile lands and water streams” – as the geographer Idris defined it – had an important role during the French-Spanish wars for the possession of Sicily. In 1543 its rich territory – that reaches the sea – became the County of Mascali and the whole area was fortified with walls and towers. Between the 16th and 18th centuries Mascali expanded, and the post-earthquake reconstruction of the 1690s made it even more lively. It obtained the status of autonomous municipality in 1815. But the proximity to the volcano was, for this town, both a rich fortune for its living an independent life and a tragedy, too.

The 1928 eruption destroyed Mascali


mascali 2
the lava entering Mascali in 1928

Between 2 and 4 November 1928 Etna began an eruption both explosive, in the North East crater, and effusive with the opening of fractures at low altitude. The first lava flow directed towards Sant’Alfio and stopped without power before getting there. But the new lava escaping from the second fracture met the slope of the Pietrafucile river bed and accelerated the course towards the town of Mascali. The town was reached and destroyed within three days. Only the houses of the Sant’Antonino hamlet remained standing.

The eruption ended on November 20. It was perhaps the first volcanic event to be filmed and broadcast by the media. The images projected in cinemas throughout Italy made Etna and its great – even destructive – force known to the whole nation.

The reconstruction took place very quickly, thanks to government funding. The goal was to be able to welcome Mussolini during his trip to Eastern Sicily, so to show him the work already done. The truth was, Mussolini only visited the local Cathedral Square, the general works were then completed over the course of ten years. The modern town, therefore, despite being a small mountain place, has a rigid and futurist architecture, typical of the style of the time. It looks very similar to Fascist Rome or to Reggio Calabria seafront promenade (the hand was of the same architect, Camillo Autore ).

What to see and what to do in Mascali

The small town reborn from the lava, now thrives on agriculture and a lot of tourism. Located halfway between the top of the volcano and the most beautiful beaches of the coast, it welcomes visitors all year round. In the “old core” you can admire the twentieth-century church of St Leonardo, the small church of the Nunziatella – in the sacristy of which the remains of an early Christian basilica (“the oldest church in the diocese”) were found in 2012.

Just outside the town you will see the hamlet Sant’Antonino, the only remaining testimony of the nineteenth-century Mascali, spared from the fury of the volcano. Climbing towards the mountain, the vineyards of Puntalazzo and Montagrano extend. Here, they cultivate the unique grape variety which makes the “Nerello Mascalese” wines delicacy. Also typical of the area is the long green bean, called “u mascalisi”. The sea area of Mascali includes the beaches of Sant’Anna and the beaches of Fondachello. Giardini Naxos and Taormina are in any case less than half an hour away, by car.

How to get there

Getting to Mascali is very easy because it is located right along the State Street 114 that connects Syracuse to Messina. It can also be reached via the A18 motorway, exit at Giarre or Fiumefreddo.

The closest railway station is that of Giarre-Riposto, then connected to the town by local buses. The reference airport is Catania Fontanarossa.

(the photo above the title: copyright ALQASAR WIKIPEDIA)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

Airport Transfers