Patrick Brydone’s Tour through Sicily and Malta, first published in 1773, was a primary guide-book for all those travellers who reached Sicily from Northern Europe for the first time. Thanks to Brydone’s enthusiastic survey, Sicily and especially Messina became part of the itinerary of the Italian Grand Tour. Regular flows of travellers arrived. During the Napoleonic Wars and mostly during the British Decade (1806-1815) in Sicily, when His Majesty’s military forces occupied the Bourbons’ island and protected it from a possible French invasion, Messina became the site of the British military head-quarters; at the same time, its port was either the final destination or the starting point for many travellers, whose striking descriptions helped build a new identity for Messina and put the city among the most favoured destinations of the Grand Tour in the Mediterranean. A strong connection was then created between the Sicilian town and England, a connection that lasted over ‘the long nineteenth century’.
Keywords : Messina; British travellers; Grand Tour; Sicily; Mediterranean urban identities