Nicotera is a traditional fishing village in the province of Vibo Valentia with the golden beaches and crystal-clear water of the Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods). The food is good - it’s no accident that it’s known as the town of the Mediterranean Diet.
The countryside can be found at every corner with the citrus groves of Gioia Tauro Plain, olive groves and Mediterranean scrubland.
A cluster of houses with ocher roofs, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands and the Strait of Messina.
Nicotera lies between the River Mesima and the current Marina, in a panoramic position on a terrace sloping towards the Gulf of Gioia Tauro. The built-up area looks like a handful of houses with ochre roofs clinging onto a high hill with a privileged view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Aeolian Islands and the Strait of Messina.
The town has an extraordinary heritage of natural beauty, and hundreds of years of history, culture and traditions. The town centre can be easily visited on foot and hides treasures of great historical and religious value such as the castle and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. The town is filled with the scent of Magna Graecia, and talks of ancient stories - from the old water mills to the districts of Baglio and Giudecca, before going down to Nicotera Marina and diving into the blue sea. The top of the hill, known as Madonna della Scala, dominates the immense expanse of sea, the beach stretching into the distance, and the lush green of the surrounding plain. On good days, the view extends as far as Sicily. The ruins of buildings, necropoleis and Roman hydraulic works have come to light in the flat area between the built-up area and mouth of the River Mesima. The discoveries led archaeologists to identify the area with an emporium that may have also served the Greek Medma, a colony of Locri found near the current Rosarno.
From 1957 to 1969, Ancel Keys, the American physiologist, was asked by the American government to carry out a study on the mortality brought by the so-called diseases of affluence - heart attack, diabetes and obesity, very widespread in the developed areas of the world. Dr Keys compared the results of the tests made on the inhabitants of seven countries in three different continents (United States, Italy, Finland, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands and Japan) relating to the relationship between dietary habits and cardiovascular disease. The results showed that the inhabitants of rural villages in southern Italy, particularly those in Nicotera, Calabria, had the lowest level of cardiovascular disease, due to fact that they ate local produce. This gave rise to the name Mediterranean Diet, with plenty of foods of vegetable origin and little meat, sugar, butter and animal fat. Nutrition based on the Mediterranean diet is healthy, balanced and thought to be the most complete and correct diet all over the world. It is so well thought of that it has been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The traditional dietary model of Nicotera is an effective natural protection for some diseases resulting in the level of mortality being halved and a very low prevalence of coronary heart disease, hypertension and obesity.
Wine and Food
The cuisine of Nicotera is clearly peasant inspired and is simple but healthy. Traditional first courses are maccarruna 'i casa, homemade pasta prepared by rolling the dough, of flour and water, around straws which are then seasoned with a sauce enriched with pork, and tagghiarini 'i casa in which eggs are used and are made by cutting the dough into long strips. The milinghiani chini (stuffed aubergines) and dishes contaminated by maritime tradition, like surici fritti (fried cleaver wrasse) or (fish in a sauce of olive oil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, basil and chilli pepper) are also well-known.
Corso Umberto I, Nicotera