A city of northeast Sicily, Italy, from the Strait of Messina, a channel dividing Sicily from mainland Italy. Launched in the 8th century B.C. by Greek colonists, Messina had been decimated by the plague in 1743 and experienced severe earthquakes in 1783 and 1908. The strait's rocks, currents, and whirlpools was the inspiration when it comes to legend of Scylla and Charybdis. Population: 245,000.