Paola is the most important town of the Riviera dei Cedri (Cedars Riviera), a coastal stretch characterized by large beaches and crystal clear sea. The Northern Tyrrhenian coastal area also includes a portion of the mountains that stand immediately behind the coastline. The centre of the town is 94 m above sea level and is about 2 kilometers far from the sea shore where long and wide beaches lie. The sea resort is very crowded in the summer period and it is provided with touristic and bathing facilities. Paola is renowned for the Sanctuary of San Francis of Paola, run by the Order of the Friars Minor, that is the main destination of the religious tourism in Calabria. In fact, an increasing number of pilgrims visit every year the religious complex located on the sloped mountain overlooking Paola built-up area. The town has ancient and uncertain origins. No scholar has yet found where it was funded and the etymology of its name. The historiographer Romano Napolitano maintains that the name Paola could derive from the Latin Pabula (pastureland). Leonardo Izzi, the author of the book Spigolando su Guardia Fuscaldo e Paola, claims that the name “Paula” was cited in a privilege by Roger, the Duke of Apulia and Calabria, who was the son of Robert Guiscard. The document concerns the donations that the Duke and other lords made to Guglielmo, the Abbot of Sant'Angelo di Mileto. The donors included a certain Crasso who offered a peasant: Et hos dedit Bonus Crassus: Mule de Paula cum filius. Another official document dated 1110 confirms that Sica, the wife of the Norman Robert of Bubum, Lord of Fuscaldo, offered a sum of money to a group of religious people, who settled in the area of present-day Badia, to build the Monastery Catino di Santa Maria della Valle Giosafat e delle Fosse and to extend ministries to the church of San Michele. During the Swabian period, the town began to develop. The Ruffo family was the first to be granted the local fief. When Count Antonio Ruffo died, he left two daughters, Polissena and Novella. In 1418 Polissena married Francesco Sforza, who became the Duke of Milan, and she brought him Paola and other nearby villages.