Messina is linked to the Italian mainland by ferries and hydrofoils crossing the Straits of Messina from either Villa San Giovanni or Reggio di Calabria. Ferries leave from Villa San Giovanni, which is 12km (7 1/2 miles) north of Reggio and closer to Messina. Ferry services are called traghetti; FS (tel. 892021 in Villa San Giovanni) is state run, while Caronte (tel. 090-37183214; www.carontetourist.it) is independent. Offices for both companies can be found at the harbor where the ferries depart. Both ferries charge a fare of 28€ to Messina. If you're leaving from Reggio di Calabria, you can take the Meridiano ferry (tel. 0965-810414; www.meridianolines.it), which charges 2€ for foot passengers on the 40-minute crossing to Messina. Cars cost 12€. Crossings take about 20 minutes.
The nearest airport to Messina is on the Italian mainland at Reggio di Calabria. Aeroporto dello Stretto (tel. 0965-640517) is 5km (3 miles) south of Reggio. From here take the Metromare (tel. 0923-873813; www.metromaredellostretto.it) service -- a combination of bus and hydrofoil transportation. Journey time 1 hour; cost 9€. The nearest airport in Sicily, Aeroporto Vincenzo Bellini in Catania, is 110km/68.3 miles south of Messina. SAIS buses (tel. 800-211020; www.saisautolinee.it) run hourly at a cost of 8.50€ one way to Messina. Journey time: 2 hours.
Several trains a day come from the mainland, including Rome, and take up to 9 hours (cost 41.50€). There are also frequent rail links to Palermo, with 15 trains going between Messina and the island's capital, taking approximately 3 1/2 hours and costing 11.55€ one way. There are also hourly trains between Messina and Taormina, Sicily's major resort to the south, taking 1 hour and costing 3.80€ each way. For rail information, call tel. 892021 or see www.trenitalia.it.
SAIS buses (tel. 800-211020; www.saisautolinee.it) operate from Catania daily with at least one an hour, taking 1 1/2 hours and costing 7.70€ one-way. There are eight buses a day from Palermo, a 2 3/4-hour trip that costs 15.10€ one way.
From the mainland of Italy, follow the A3 south to Reggio di Calabria, getting off at Villa San Giovanni and taking a car ferry across the Straits of Messina to Messina itself. Along the northern coast, travel the A20/SS113 east from Palermo and Cefalù. The A18 from Taormina runs north to Messina.
Bridging the Gap -- The long-delayed development in Messina -- the Straits of Messina bridge project, which will link the city with Reggio Calabria on the mainland -- was announced in 2002. Construction began in late 2005 but was discontinued for 3 years. It was slated for completion in 2012 but as of yet the project has barely seen any building. The project has been a mess since its inception and fiercely opposed by nature conservationists. Check out www.strettodimessina.it for updates, drawings, and even computer simulations of the new bridge.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.