Founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC, Messina was originally called Zancle (scythe) because of the shape of its natural harbour. Of that name there still remains the 'Scalinata Zanclea' stairs.
Messina was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and associated tsunami on the morning of December 28, 1908, killing over 75,000 people. In June 1955, Messina was the location of the conference of western European foreign ministers which led to the creation of the European Economic Community.
Other cities and places of interest in the province include Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Milazzo, the Aeolian Islands (Lipari), Tindari, Taormina and Capo d'Orlando . The province of Messina contains over 100 communes.