Nicotera is a renowned tourist resort of the Costa degli Dei (coast of the Gods), and it is panoramically located on a steep slope, 210 m high above the sea level. The extraordinary heritage of the town includes natural beauties, thousand-year old history, culture and traditions. From the top of the hill called “Madonna della Scala”, which overlooks the sea, the long beach, the green plain, and, far away, the Aeolian Islands, Messina Strait, Mt Etna and Aspromonte massif can be spotted.
The ancient town of Nicotera is located at the foot of the ancient Castle and it has a 17th-18th century layout. It is characterized by winding narrow streets, passageways, steep stairways and clearings. Many peculiar places are worth to be mentioned, including the remarkable buildings with granite portals and rounded balconies with iron wrought tulips; the districts of “Baglio” and “Giudecca”, where the Jews who took refuge in the area once lived; the stone fountains of Don Orazio and dei Monaci. The Cathedral, the Ruffo Castle that houses the Archaeological Museum, the Province museum of Mineralogy and Petrography, the Museum of Monte Poro Rural life, the Museum of Sacred Art, deserve a visit. The Norman Duomo stands beyond the ancient main gate of the town. It was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Romania and, later, to the Assumption of Mary (Santa Maria Assunta). It keeps artworks that include the white Carrara marble Madonna delle Grazie sculpted by Antonello Gagini in 1498. The 14th-century Bishop’s palace, that was later a Celestine monastery, is located close to the Duomo. Today it houses the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art. Built in 1975, the Museum keeps 17th and 18th century vestments, a wooden 15th-century Crucifix, 18th-century furnishings and paintings. The Church of San Giuseppe was re-built at the end of the 18th century on a 11th-century building. The Church of Gesù e Maria is a 18th-century building with a large portal and the interior decorated with baroque stuccoes. In the modern town, the Church of Rosario was probably erected on a Cistercian building of the end of the 16th century. It was often remodeled and, with the annexed monastery, now houses the Municipal Administration offices.
The castle rises in the upper town. It was erected in 1764 on the ruined Swabian-Angevin fortress (1065), with towers at the corners and large terraces that overlook the coast area and beaches. Falcone Ruffo, the count of Sinopoli, had the castle re-built and he charged Ermenegildo Sintes, one of Vanvitelli’s pupils, with the design. The castle houses the Province Museum of Mineralogy and Petrography, Museum of Monte Poro Rural life and Civic Archaeological Museum that keeps the early Iron Age, Magna-Graecia and Roman artifacts found in the area.
The Nicotera Archaeological Museum houses about three-thousand remains from Paleolithic and Neolithic periods to Bronze and Iron Ages. The Museum collections include rests of mammalians and fossils and a fragment of the parietal bone of a Neanderthal kid; Greek-Roman artifacts; Early Middle-Age pottery; coins; small vases from the 6th-5th-century votive offerings found in the Ferrari district and Bronze grave goods from the Torre Galli necropolis. Iron-age artifacts include whorls, cupels, fibulas, arms and bronze pendants (among which the anthropomorphic one is remarkable), found in the shaft tombs of the necropolis located in the Ferrari district. The Province Diocesan Museum was founded by Natale Pagano in 1975, during the episcopacy of Monsignor Vincenzo De Chiara, and opened in August of the same year. The newly founded Museum preserved a hundred objects grouped in five areas: vestments, paintings, silverware, marble and wooden sculptures. The Nicotera Museum was the first one concerning Sacred Art that was opened in Calabria. Over the years, the museum collection has increased, and the number of tourists and visitors has grown as well. The areas dedicated to marbles, glasses, pottery and the collection of proto-historical, Greek and Roman objects are located at the ground floor. The first floor houses the areas dedicated to vestments, silverware, wooden sculptures and manuscripts.