A study aimed to shed some light on building collapse caused by the strongest earthquakes in the San Raineri Peninsula (Messina) is here reported. Although a compilation of structurally damaged buildings is widely reported in historical sources, the interpretation of seismic collapse has often been doubtful or ambiguous. We therefore performed an exhaustive and detailed review of seismic effects caused by the 1783 and 1908 earthquakes on the peninsula buildings. Geological and geotechnical data were also collected on the peninsula. The results of boring data reveal high seismic vulnerability for the peninsula in some areas. The study shows that the ancient buildings were damaged by settlement due to soil liquefaction rather than by seismic shaking of the large walls. The obtained results show that further investigations must be carried out in this area for a correct town planning of the peninsula.