Nicotera, the capital of the Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet? Nicotera is its homeland, come and taste its healthy cuisine
VV-Nicotera 32[Luca Fregola]

© Luca Fregola

Food and wine

Mediterranean Diet? Nicotera, in the province of Vibo Valentia, is its homeland.

Let's take a tour of this welcoming town along the Costa degli Dei and discover what features have, over time, linked the Mediterranean Diet, Nicotera and its hospitable community. 

Calabria, homeland of the Mediterranean Diet

Did you know that the Mediterranean Diet is a UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity?

It is an important cultural and food heritage that Mediterranean regions, including Calabria, are fortunate to protect and enhance through genuine, branded and organic products that respect the parameters that make them so beneficial to health.

The Mediterranean Diet is a nutritional regime based on the typical foods of the Mediterranean area, unchanged since the times of ancient civilisations: cereals, fruit, vegetables, seeds, olive oil, with moderate consumption of fish, white meat, pulses, eggs, dairy products, red wine and honey-based sweets. These are all foods that form the basis of Calabrian food and wine and of certain localities in particular.

Any examples of food and wine itineraries to discover the Mediterranean Diet in Calabria? You will be spoilt for choice, with 23 PDO/CDO and 17 PGI/TIG products.

The routes that combine taste and health are those that cross the "Oil Roads and Cities" and the "Wine Roads and Cities" throughout the region; the itineraries to discover homemade and traditional bread (often produced using ancient grains) the agricultural areas that are perfumed with the fragrance of Calabria's prized citrus fruits, such as Clementine PDO, Lemons of Rocca Imperiale PGI, the essential oil of Bergamot di Reggio Calabria PDO and Cedro di Calabria PDO; those used to cultivate cereals of the highest quality, such as Sibari rice, and vegetables with unmistakable organoleptic properties, such as the famous Tropea Red Onion PGI.

Regione Calabria

Nicotera, the City of the Mediterranean Diet

On our journey in the footsteps of the Mediterranean Diet in Calabria, we stop in Nicotera, a beautiful seaside village and Green Flag (child-friendly) beach on the Costa degli Dei, in the province of Vibo Valentia.

What links the Mediterranean Diet, Nicotera, its stretch of sea and the hinterland?

It was the years between 1957 and 1969 when the American physiologist Ancel Keys was commissioned by his government to study the connection between the so-called "diseases of well-being" (cardiovascular and gastric, primarily) and the lifestyle of some of the world's longest-living populations. Among these, the Italians, particularly the Calabrians, were among the healthiest communities with respect to their relationship with food. In Calabria, Keys' study focused on Nicotera, which at that time boasted the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease in the world.

Why is the Mediterranean Diet, Nicotera and its territory such a perfect combination? Let's find out with a trip among fields, sea and tastings in the company of the local community, one of the most hospitable in Calabria (not by chance the protagonist of the Hospitality Festival).

The medieval village, perched around its symbolic buildings, the Ruffo Castle and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, preserves traces of the Mediterranean populations that have inhabited it throughout the ages (as demonstrated by the presence of the Giudecca, an ancient Jewish quarter), bringing with them customs, habits and seeds of the Orient.

Regione Calabria

Few people know, for instance, that the aubergine, a typical food of the Mediterranean Diet, was introduced to southern Italy by the Arabs. It is no coincidence that Nicotera's typical dishes include the appetising milingiàni chini (stuffed aubergines).  

Nicotera's cuisine, with its clear peasant and seafood inspiration, brings the balance and wholesomeness of a centuries-old tradition to the table. The Mediterranean Diet, Nicotera, the sea and the countryside translate into a series of dishes based on fresh homemade pasta made with local flour and eggs (maccarrùna and tagghiarìni) and delicious traditional fresh fish, such as sùrici and oily fish seasoned with tasty salmorìgghiu.

The typical products of the Mediterranean Diet in Nicotera are also the result of work in the fields, where you can breathe in the scent of the citrus groves of the nearby Gioia Tauro Plain, the olive groves and the Mediterranean scrub surrounding the town and the marina.

The seaside hamlet, home of the fishermen, is located along a stretch of coastline rich in local specialities: from the delicious Tartufo di Pizzo ice-cream to the famous 'Nduja, which, to be honest, is not so much in line with the Mediterranean Diet, but... how can you pass up a spicy taste?

Last update: Apr 23, 2024 8:48 AM