Formerly a Locrian colony, as appointed by Thucydides, it became a medieval village refuge for Byzantine monks before quickly transforming into a flourishing centre of artisanal and farming activities. Among the village’s main industries were silk manufacturing and orange and olive cultivation. Mammola's first water mills were built using the most advanced techniques.
In fact, still today you can see evidence of the monks who resided in the town for centuries such as the Abbey of San Biagio and the Grangia di Santa Barbara (Monastic Grange of Saint Barbara). The Grangia di Santa Barbara now houses the Museum of Modern Art which, every year, attracts hundreds of artists from all over the world to participate in exhibitions and other cultural initiatives.
The village's medieval centre has preserved much of its fascinating beauty as evidenced by the narrow alleys of its kasbah, its picturesque squares, its hotch-potch of houses, and its superb palazzos with architectural styles ranging from classical to baroque or Moorish.
A special mention should also be made of the town’s Churches, such as the majestic three-naved Chiesa Matrice, the sixteenth-century Chiesa Santissima Annunziata, the Chiesa della Madonna del Carmine, the Church of San Filippo Neri, and the Abbey of San Biagio, all true masterpieces of architectural and pictorial art.
Of particular interest is the Grangia di Santa Barbara which houses the renowned Santa Barbara Museum of Modern Art founded by painter Nik Spatari. Every year, it attracts hundreds of artists from across the world to participate in exhibitions, events, and other valuable and meaningful cultural initiatives.
In the Santa Barbara Museum Park visitors can admire numerous sculptures by famous artists. The "Foresteria” (Guest House), a building designed and built by Nik Spatari and decorated with huge mosaics, is a support facility for artists and interns.
The Santa Barbara Museum Park is considered one of the most important Museums in the world.
In terms of religious tourism, an important destination is the Sanctuary of Saint Nicodemus, patron saint of the town and founder of the Monastery of the same name which is situated on Mount Kellerano. The Sanctuary is part of Aspromonte National Park and is a historical, religious, and spiritual point of reference given that it is dedicated to one of the most revered saints of Calabria.
A dense network of pathways criss-crosses the entire territory of Mammola, some of which are also suitable for cycling and horse riding. Throughout the year, many hikers flock to the area from all over Italy, as well as abroad, to trek through the mountain range of the Serre Calabresi or Mammola Moun-tain, which is part of Aspromonte National Park.
This 10th-century building is located between the river Chiaro and the river Torbido. In 1783, it was damaged by the earthquake and it was on this occasion that the relics of Saint Nicodemus were moved to the Chiesa Matrice (Matrix Church) where they have remained ever since.
In this convent, under the guidance of illustrious churchmen such as Barlaam di Seminara, who later became master of Petrarch, Apollinare Agresta, a native of Mammola, and Abbot General of the Basilians, Basilian monasticism reached such a level of importance that it became one of the cultural, moral, and religious landmarks of Calabria. The Abbey’s single-naved church still houses a beautiful altar with marble inlays. Above the altar is a canvas depicting the Saint wearing the Basilian habit. In the chapel on the left you can admire a precious painting depicting the Annunciation. The stoup is thought to have been the work of the Gagini family of sculptors.
Dating back to the Byzantine-Norman period, the church had a deformed Latin cross plan. However, in the 16th century it was rebuilt in Renaissance style with three naves. Inside it houses the Chapel of Saint Nicodemus, the patron saint of Mammola, where his relics are stored inside a bronze urn.
Built in 1590 with a single nave, the church stands in front of the ancient building of the Feudatory which features a majestic granite ashlar portal. This architecturally modest church houses a harmonious and immense wooden group of the Madonna del Carmine; a wooden statue of Saint Anthony of Padua made by an unknown artist; a papier-mâché statue of Saint Lucia, a more frivolous work by Rodolfo del Pozzo; and a statue of the Sacred Heart.
Although damaged several times by earthquakes, the church was always rebuilt in respect of its original, baroque style. Its elegant and sober facade is decorated with two small bells and its single-naved interior preserves the statue of the Annunciation, that of Saints Cosmas and Damian, and a statue of Saint Rita. The inlaid marble altar is surmounted by a magnificent paint-ing by Valerioti and a canvas by Mazzola.
Dating back to 1621, the church consists of a small single nave with a sim-ple structure. Inside the temple you will find the statues of Saint Philip Neri and Saint Sebastian. The internal walls of the church are adorned with three valuable works of art in oil on canvas, one of which is the work of the school of Caravaggio.
The Santa Barbara Museum was founded by Nik Spatari and Hiske Maas who, at the end of the 1960s, chose Mammola as the location of their global project. The project in question entailed the production of art with precise historical and environmental landmarks such as the Grangia di Santa Bar-bara, the ruins of a Carthusian, 10th-century Monastic Grange. The muse-um’s geographical location is considered to be one of the main gateways and access routes to the protected area of Aspromonte National Park.
MUSABA is an open-air museum and science park with highly interactive exhibitions. Over the years, this productive laboratory park has hosted art-ists from all over the world. MUSABA designs, establishes, and sets into motion its programmes by promoting a series of project initiatives aimed at finishing the structure. The projects and all the works were carried out cost-effectively under the direc-tion of the founders.
The 7-hectare park contains the ancient monastic complex including: the restored Church from the year 1000 which houses the monumental three-dimensional work "Il Sogno di Giacobbe” (Jacob’s Dream); the new museum wing "La Rosa dei Venti” (the Rose of the Winds); and the colourful roof of the “Foresteria”, designed by Nik Spatari, which is decorated with mosaics spanning one thousand square metres (and counting) over the Cloister’s external walls. The park is also home to imposing monumental sculptures, the restored old station, and annexed art workshops as well as an art park with Mediterranean gardens and vegetable gardens.
Stockfish has been the symbol of Mammola for centuries. In fact, the town has built a real and well-deserved reputation on this dried cod, a typical local product which is not only produced in the area but is also an ingredient in many traditional dishes. Stockfish is so deeply rooted in Mammola’s culture that it has received “De. Co.” Denominazione Comunale di Origine (municipal designation of origin) certification. In addition, the Ministry for Agricultural Policies has included it among the typical traditional agri-foodstuff products.
Stockfish of Mammola has humble origins and was mainly consumed by the less well-off classes. Traditionally, it is eaten during the Christmas period and is also given as a gift for personal use and consumption.
Mammola celebrates this dish every August with the traditional stockfish festival which takes place in the old town.
The festival attracts hundreds of tourists and onlookers who are keen to continue the tradition and try the stockfish of the local restaurants.