The village of Stignano is situated on the ionic Calabrian hillside near Stilo, just a few kilometres from the marina of Riace where the statues of the famous Bronzes were discovered.
Although it may not be one of the area’s more well-known tourist destinations, Stignano nonetheless offers visitors a pleasant experience where they can try the simple but authentic local produce and take in the beauty of the natural environment.
In 1968, a Ministerial Decree confirmed that Tommaso Campanella was born in Stignano, thus ending the dispute with the nearby village of Stilo.
Its historic centre has a classic medieval layout complete with breath-taking 18th-century buildings such as Villa Caristo and Palazzo Attaffi. Stignano is also home to the house in which Tommaso Campanella was born, which is protected by the Superintendence of Fine Arts. Among the town’s most important traditional events are: the "confronta” which takes place in April and consists of a procession with a gathering, a run, and the display of several statues portraying the events of the resurrection; the feast of Saint Anthony on 12 and 13 June which is celebrated with a cattle fair; the international folklore festival, the festival of skewered meat and the feast of Saint Rocco, with the ballo del ciuccio (dummy dance) held in August. The weekly market takes place on Fridays. The Patron Saint, Saint Raphael, is celebrated on 24 October. There is a rivalry between Stignano and Stilo which both claim to have been the birthplace of philosopher Tommaso Campanella.
Villa Caristo is a prestigious eighteenth-century residence and a unique example of Baroque art in Calabria. Legend has it that it was built on the ruins of a Roman villa that belonged to the Roman patrician Stenius from whom the name of the present day Stignano is said to have derived.
This impressive building and its surrounding park, both authentic and unique treasures, evoke the style, ornamental lavishness, and elegance of an ancient Vesuvian villa. Situated in a prominent position and surrounded by gardens and fountains, it immediately attracts the attention of passers-by thanks to the harmonious architectural features embellishing the entire complex. The entrance to the villa is accessed via a walkway which is overlooked by a monumental stone staircase that ascends on both sides of the building. A completely unique fountain crowned with marble statues of Tancredi baptising a dying Clorinda can also be admired. On the belvedere side of the building is another monumental white marble fountain with a polygonal base reservoir and two smaller circular reservoirs. The third fountain, that of the dolphins, is reminiscent of the statue of Leda and the Swan in the allegorical fountain of Villa Signorino in Ercolano. The facade of the villa, with its imposing two storeys, boasts a double staircase similar to the one adorning the villa of Prince Spinelli of Tarsia. Despite its abandoned state, the inside of the villa still features meticulously crafted frames, stuccoes, and arches. The ground floor contains a stately chapel with three altars, which houses a statue of Saint Leonard and two frescoes. Upstairs there are two large terraces and a sumptuous hall whose ceiling is decorated with a portrayal of the goddess Venus. Due to its magnificent beauty and uniqueness, Villa Caristo, alongside the palace of Stupinigi, the Villa of the princes Mellone of Lecce, and the palace of the Prince of Genoa, was selected to appear on a series of stamps known as Le ville d'Italia, issued by the Italian Post Office in 1984.
Convent of San Antonio
The convent of San Antonio (formerly the convent of San Francesco di Paola with adjoining church of the Minimi) was founded in 1641 and features a cloister surrounded by a beautiful portico.
Church of the Immacolata
A few hundred metres from the Calvary is an abandoned church dating back to 1756 which houses the statue of the Immaculate Madonna of Stignano who is celebrated every year on 8 December. Inside the church is a fresco which, despite being in a state of deterioration, still displays an in-signia in Latin.
San Fili Castle
The Castle of San Fili is a sixteenth-century tower which was originally built as a defensive structure before being converted into residences by the feudal lords. In 1996, Legambiente (an Italian environmental association) included the castle in a group of Italian monuments worthy of preservation. It consists of a triangular building with three towers at the vertices, two of which are on the main façade and are made of stone with a rectangular base. The third is located on the opposite vertex and has a pentagonal-shaped base. The building has two floors and is accessed by a single flight of stairs. Inside, a staircase connects the two levels with the terrace. The castle is a unique example of a country residence which has the typical characteristics of a fortress.
San Fili Tower
Dating back to 1600, San Fili Tower is a cylindrical tower which was built for use as a lookout. It was also used in coordination with the defence apparatus to guard the city against Saracen and Turkish invasions.
House of Tommaso Campanella
A sore point between the villages of Stignano and Stilo, the birthplace of Tommaso Campanella was originally deemed to be Stilo because, at the time, Stignano had no autonomous administration. However, in 1968 a Ministerial Decree confirmed that the great philosopher was actually born in Stignano. The village is, in fact, home to a small stone house named as the birthplace of this great philosopher. Declared a national monument, it displays a plaque on one of its outer walls which reads:
In this house was born the philosopher Tommaso Campanella who came to eradicate the three extreme evils: tyranny, sophistry, hypocrisy. Stignano 1568 - Paris 1639. The plaque was affixed by the municipal administration on the occasion of the fourth centenary of Campanella’s birth.
Church of the Annunciation
The church features an extensive, single block facade. Its most striking decorative elements are the four long pilasters resting on a square stone plinth with an adjoining rustic bell tower divided into four levels. The interior, consisting of a single nave, houses a precious, early nineteenth-century sculpted marble tabernacle. Also of particular importance are the 17th century Ecce Homo, two 18th and 19th century wooden statues, and a carved wooden pulpit.
via Roma, 9, Stignano
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