Massa San Nicola, the Ghost Village of Messina | Sicily

byVerónica Crocitti

Everything about Massa San Nicola, the ghost village of the municipality of Messina: origin of the name, history, what to see and how to get there.

Set in the final part of the Peloritani Mountains, perfectly between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts ofSicilynorth-eastern, the Ghost Village of Massa San Nicola is a very small village in the municipality ofMessina.

Massa San Nicola, Ghost Village of Messina, Sicily, Italy

Its name, as well as that of the four Masse of Messina (Massa Santa Lucia, Massa San Giovanni, Massa San Giorgio and Massa San Nicola), derives from the word "farm”, i.e. a farm – sometimes an inhabited agricultural company – of sixteenth-century origin which included rural buildings, farmers' accommodation, stables, fodder and crops.

The history of Massa San Nicola

Of the four masses in the Messina area, that of San Nicola is the smallest, as well as the only one completely uninhabited. Historians agree that its history has its roots in the 18th century, although some decorations of theMedieval church of Santa Maria de Scalis(Santa Maria della Scala) would seem to date back to an earlier time dating back to around the 1400s.


What is certain is that, in the small village of Massa San Nicola, the main activity was that linked to citrus fruits andextraction of perfumed essences. The inhabitants lived in their homes and used an ancient mill for water. Until the first half of the 20th century, the number of people who populated the village was around 450.

Massa San Nicola, Ghost Village of Messina, Sicily, Italy

It was during the post-World War II years that Massa San Nicola began to depopulate. But why? The factors that contributed to making this village a real ghost town were mainly two: thephenomenon of the great emigration to the United States of Americaand the movement towards the less rural areas of the city.

READ ALSO:10 things to do and see in Messina

Today the small village of Massa San Nicola is placed under the constraint of the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage. Every December 6th,in honor of the saint's feast, the inhabitants of the neighboring Masse organize a procession that begins in the central church and continues through the streets of the town.

What to see in Massa San Nicola

The hamlet of the village of Massa San Nicola, in the municipality of Messina, is characterized by small alleys,stone housesmostly in ruins and a suggestive decadent atmosphere. Inside some old houses it is still possible to seeclothing and shoesof those who, more than 50 years ago, decided to abandon their homes. Time, in this glimpse ofSicily, it really seems to have completely stopped.


Among the most picturesque things to see in Massa San Nicola stand outSt. Nicholas Church(built after the 1908 earthquake), the stone paths, thelanternsstill hanging next to the entrances of some houses and thedrinking fountaindating back to the 19th century.

Note Well!St. Nicholas Church is currently closed.

How to get

The Ghost Village of Massa San Nicola is located in the Municipality of Messina, about 15 kilometers from the centre, along theProvincial Road 45which connects Curcuraci to Massa San Giorgio.

READ ALSO:The Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari

It is possible to reach the town both from the Tyrrhenian side of the provinceMessina(Salice, Rodia, Spartà) and on the Ionian side (Camaro, Annunziata, Pace, Faro Superiore).

Massa San Nicola, Ghost Village of Messina, Sicily, Italy

At the entrance to the village there is a large wooden sign and, right in front, there is a small clearing where you can leave your car.

You may also like

1 comment

Ghost villages and abandoned towns of Messina |Sicily 12 November 2020 - 19:35

[…] piccolo borgo fantasma di Massa San Nicola si staglia nella parte finale dei monti Peloritani, nel cuore del Comune di Messina. Il suo nome […]


Leave a comment