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Villafranca Tirrena is in the province of Messina on the island of Sicily, Italy. It is 22 km across the Straits of Messina to the region of Calabria. The municipality of Villafranca Tirrena contains the frazioni (subdivisions, mainly villages and hamlets) Serro, Divieto, Castelluccio, Castello, and Calvaruso. As of 2013, it had a population of 8,650 and an area of 14.3 km². The main economical resources of the city are: commerce, small industries, agriculture, that includes the cultivation of lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges, olives and wine production, tourism.


  • Villafranca Tirrena is a town in the province of Messina, on the Thyrrenian sea, known with the name of Briosa and Bauso during the ancien times. Already mentioned in the Aragonese period, it was a fief of the Cottone family during the 16th century and it was the site of a busy trading station along the Palermo-Messina road. Architectonic masterpieces of the town are the baronial castle (Castello di Bauso), built in 1590 by Stefano Cottone, the Church of San Nicolò, with a beautiful painted 16th-century cross and a marble statue of madonna and child from the Calamecca's workshop, and the Sanctuary of Jesus Ecce Homo, with a valuable wooden statue of Hecce Homo by Gianfranco Pitorno, also known with the name of frate Umile from Petralia.

Get in


Villafranca Tirrena is about 12 km northwest of Messina and about 180 km east of Palermo. It borders the following municipalities: Messina, Saponara, Rometta, Saponara, Venetico, Spadafora. It can be reached via highways (autostrade) from Messina from the south and Palermo from the north.

By train


Villafranca is Sicily's link to the main Italian train network. Long distance trains from Rome and Naples cross the Straits of Messina by ferry and continue on to Palermo and Catania. Regular regional trains also run to Villafranca, Milazzo, Cefalu, Taormina and Syracuse.

By bus


Long-distance buses stop in Messina, linking Rome and Naples to Catania and Palermo. Regular local buses also run to Villafranca, Milazzo (for the Aeolian Islands) and Taormina.

Get around




Natives of Sicily speak Sicilian, an ancient Romance language that is a separate language from Italian.

Most Sicilians are proficient in Italian, and modern schools teach English to students. In small villages, some of the older residents may not speak Italian (they will usually understand though).

Even though Italian is the national language, Sicilian is still very alive in Sicily. They may say "Comu ti senti?" ("How are you feeling?") The normal question is "Come stai?" ("How are you?")


  • [dead link] Castello di Bauso (Bauso Castle). The Castle in Villafranca Tirrena built in 1590. It conserved a hall with frescoes, marble medallions portraying four members of the Pettini family, and tombstones inscriptions.
  • Museo della Medicina Museo Badessa [dead link] This museum is dedicated to the memory of the Doctor Ottavio Badessa. Born in 1898 in Bauso, nowadays called Villafranca Tirrena, he was graduated in Medicine in Naples and attended the Maternity Hospital of the “Università di Messina” and for thirty years he was being country doctor of Villafranca Tirrena. Every object exposed comes from the private collection of his son, the Doctor Paolo Badessa, Anaesthesia and Intensive care Head Physician at the hospitals of Solleftea (Sweden), Niscemi (Caltanissetta) and Patti (Messina). At the museum there are exposed many medical instruments, perfectly functioning, of every kind and speciality, collected with passion during more than 40 years in many Western countries. In memory of his father's work, the collection was given at the town of Villafranca Tirrena in order to be shown in a museum built for the benefit of citizens, visitors and enthusiasts. The museum is in Via Rovere 1, Villafranca Tirrena.


  • Many manifestations and events are organized during the summer in Villafranca.
  • Purchase a granite, or other delicious ice cream. Villafranca is proud of some specialities, like cannoli alla ricotta (known worldwide) and many typical tavola calda.
  • Villafranca is approximately a forty-five minute drive away from Taormina, and ninety minutes from Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna. Plenty of agencies offer day trips to Mount Etna. You are not allowed to walk right to the top unless you have a guide (and possibly not even then, depending on the state of the eruptive activity), but the lava flows are impressive. It is over 3000 m high, so wear warm clothes - it can be cold even in summer, and the top is often covered in cloud.
  • Trekking in Sicily - The Trekking is going to expand. The Parks and the Nature Reserve are not very well organized but for this reason you'll have the opportunity to enjoy and discover the Sicilian Mountains and Nature. There are some wonderful trekkings that you can do to enjoy the beauty of the main Sicilian sites like Nebrodi mountains[1], Madonie mountains Etna volcano etc.





Making the most of its island coasts, Sicily has one of the world's best cuisines to offer. Much of the island's food is made with creatures of the sea. Unlike in the northern parts of Italy, cream and butter are hardly used for typical dishes in Sicily. Instead, the natives usually substitute tomatoes, lard (rarely) or olive oil. The cuisine is very exotic and has many spices and unique flavors to offer. Sicilians cultivate a uniquely Sicilian type of olive tree, which they affectionately call the "saracena". The food is typically Mediterranean but there are strong hints of Arabic and Spanish flavour (Sicily was conquered by many peoples during its long history). Sicilians like spices and have particular affinity for almond, jasmine, rosemary, mint and basil.

  • Villafranca has plenty of restaurants. The Spada - Swordfish is recommended. Traditional and creative takes on focaccia alla messinese and other Sicilian street food.
  • For visitors there for just a day, look for family pastry store that offer "cassata siciliana" ... a genuine treat
  • Fast food: Like in most of Sicily, you can get a freshly made cold panini in a “salumeria”, where you choose whenever you want to put in (prosciutto cotto/crudo and cheese is probably the most popular), for €1-3. Don’t forget that most of them are closed 13:00-16:00 and on Sunday. You can also have a tavola calda which mean “hot bite”, most of them made with cheese and meat, fried and baked. You will normally pay €1.50 for one piece. There is also the Sicilian speciality of arancino, which are deep fried rice balls with various fillings, meat or eggplant, that sell for €1.50 at most places. They make a good lunch snack. Finally, you will find, especially during the evening, big kiosks that sell hot, tasty and fat panini with even meat inside. Most people add fries into the sandwich. Usually, it’s about €2.50-3 and they are very popular among teenagers. Because its quite cheap, there is normally confusion at these kiosks.
  • Sample the Greek-influenced cuisine, especially eggplant (aubergine) and olive oil-based dishes.





Sicilians are not big alcohol drinkers (Sicily has the lowest rate of alcoholism in all of Italy) although the island is home to more vineyards than any other Italian region and has one of Italy's most progressive wine industries. Noted mainly in the past for strong bulk wines and often sweet Moscato and Marsala, the island has switched its emphasis toward lighter, fruitier white and red wines.

Sicily is divided into three main producing wine districts:

  • Best known wines from Messina: Mamertino; Faro; Malvasia.
  • Sicilians enjoy a fruity lemon liqueur called Limoncello during the long, hot and dry summers.





Go next

The Aeolian Islands
  • Visit Torre Faro, the former electricity pylon over Messina Strait. It is a 224 metres tall lattice tower, which is today an observation tower with an observation platform on 200 metres. You have to walk 1250 steps up and down, but the great view on the huge structure and the good view over Messina Strait is it surely worth.
  • Within a day, you can easily reach Piazza Armerina, Capo d'Orlando, Catania, Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa, Ragusa.
  • Visit Mount Etna - an eerie volcanic landscape, with solidifed "rivers" of lava. The top is 3,323 m high, so be prepared for the cold, even in summer.
  • Messina - busy city & link to the mainland
  • Naxos - First Greek colony in Sicily. Today Giardini Naxos, near Taormina.
  • Gole dell'Alcantara - a deep impressive gorge carved by the Alcantara river on the edge of Etna
  • Milazzo - gateway to the Aeolian Islands
  • The Aeolian Islands - beautiful group of volcanic islands (World Heritage)

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