Alì, Province of Messina, Sicily

The small town of Alì, located on the slopes of the hill of Sant'Elena about 30 km from Messina, comprises an ancient center founded under the Saracen occupation and a later part that was built starting from the 16th century.


  • Altitude: 450 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 800 inhabitants in 2011
  • Zip/postal code: 0942
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 98020
  • Patron Saint: St. Agata, celebrated on 5 February.

History - Antiquity and the Middle Ages

What we know on the ancient and medieval history of Alì is based on a manuscript of 1754 by Capuchin Friar Serafino d'Alì (1701-1768). Brother Serafino said that Alì was founded in 638 BC by Greek colonists coming from Elide, in the Peloponnese, at the current Piano Mollerino, a short distance from the sea. Then, perhaps because of raids of pirates, the inhabitants moved to a safer site, the plateau on top of the Monte Scuderi. But even the new location was abandoned because it was windy and cold, and the third site was on the slopes of Colle St.Elena.

The inhabitants of ancient Elis, named in memory of the Motherland, were dedicated to agriculture and the exploitation of rich mineral resources. In 250 BC, during the First Punic War, Elis was destroyed by the Syracusans led by tyrant Hiero II. There is no information on the center in the following Roman, Byzantine and Arab periods.

In 1093 King Roger I of Sicily granted the villages of Alì and Itala to the Basilian monks of the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul at Itala, and the abbot of the monastery became Baron of Alì and Itala.

History - Modern Times

During the sixteenth century, Alì went through a period of great economic and demographic development, due to revenues from mining and the cultivation of olive trees.

On the occasion of the anti-Spanish revolt of Messina in the years 1674-78, Alì, with Fiumedinisi and Savoca, remained loyal to the Spanish Monarchy, and as a result suffered the devastation and looting at the hands of the Messinese. Because of these events, the town never returned to prosperity. The earthquake of 1783 caused various damagea, and the population began to move towards Marina di Alì, discovered by European travelers for its thermal springs, still active today.

In 1818, after the abolition of feudalism in Sicily, Alì became a comune in the District of Castroreale. In 1911, the hamlet of Marina Ali became a separate comune with the name of Alì Terme. Between 1911 and 1960 Alì took the name of Alì Superiore, then in 1960 returned to the original name of Alì.

What to see

  • The church of Sant'Agata (1565), an imposing basilica with dome, contains a fine choir in wood with panels on the life of St. Agata.
  • The church of Santissimo Rosario, built by the Fama family in 1624, with fine portal in local stone and a bell tower of the same period; it preserves a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary of the 16th century, embellished with a silver "Manta" (kind of covering) of the Messina school, a wooden crucifix and magnificent stuccos.
  • The Convento dei Cappuccini (Capuchin Monastery), founded in 1574 by Friar Girolamo from Città di Castello, with its adjacent church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
  • The Palace of the Maggiore family, built in the late 16th and early 17th century in the style of Michel Angelo's Mannerism. On the facade, a mighty portal with round arch and a keystone-shaped apotropaic mask surmounted by the coat of arms of the Maggiore, and above it a balcony with wrought iron railings. The interior, on the ground floor consists of an entrance hall with a typical stairway to the noble floor and a fountain.
  • The 17th-century Palace of the Fama family, an example of late Michelangelo's Mannerism.

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Provinces of Sicily
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