Messina gets dressed up for Christmas. From Piazza Unione Europea to Cairoli: the new face of the city

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By John

«Work in progress». Thus Mayor Federico Basile announces the start of street furniture interventions, in view of the now imminent end-of-year holidays. It is the second Christmas that Basile will spend at the helm of the municipal administration and the declared objective is to demonstrate that “the ephemeral becomes real”, that the money spent on events and shows is not wasted but is part of an overall strategy, destined to bring concrete results also to the Messina economy.

In defiance of Italia Oggi’s very recent ranking on the Quality of Life, which saw Messina even relegated to third to last place, Basile has repeatedly expressed the belief that the city of the Strait is making indisputable progress, the result of a program started under the supervision of Cateno De Luca and which is carried out day after day. This is not an all “roses and flowers” path and this is confirmed by the numerous and noisy (especially on social media) voices of dissent from Messina residents who are now contesting the effects of the road measures, of the many construction sites scattered around the city, of the cycle paths under construction, of the pedestrian area of ​​the Viale, of the state of degradation in which many areas of the center and the suburbs continue to find themselves. On the other hand, obviously there is instead the consensus of those who applaud the efforts made by the Administration, the attempt to finally implement a coherent and rational plan aimed at raising precisely those levels of quality of life which, unfortunately, have not been achieved in Messina never managed to guarantee at least in a dignified manner.

And the strategy of “Messina city of events”, according to the supporters of Basile and his council, is giving substantial resultsas confirmed by the presences in the accommodation and hotel facilities of the capital, which have never been so full as in recent years.

And, therefore, Christmas 2023 arrives. The main urban spaces are being equipped – above all Piazza Unione Europea is changing face –, embellishing the pedestrian areas of the Duomo area and Piazza Cairoli, enhancing artistic lighting, cleaning up some areas left (guiltily) in pitiful conditions for too long. “The magic of Christmas is coming to the city”, is written on Mayor Basile’s Facebook page. Very well, as long as it isn’t just “ephemeral”.
There is a path to follow, that of making Messina more beautiful. To do this, we must eliminate, little by little, all the ugliness. It seems trivial and obvious to say it, but it isn’t at all. And for those who administer it is not easy to identify and implement solutions that are good for everyone.

But there is a concrete example that can be followed, and which was conceived and implemented by this very Administration: the redevelopment of Piazza Cairoli. Having eliminated the difference in road level, having given a new pavement to the asphalt strip, and having installed a different lighting system among the trees in the square, has largely transformed what, with so much nostalgia, was defined as the “living room of the city”. There was no need for transcendental works, but for a simple redesign and revitalization of the square (an objective which was partially missed, however, in Piazza del Popolo). Well, this is the right way. Today “Cairoli” is taking on the appearance of a real square and not just a large open space-roundabout, which those nostalgic for times gone by point to as an example of the beautiful and lost Messina. It was a horrendous square, where a motorway path ran, the one that from the ring road spilled onto Viale Europa and then along Viale San Martino.