In the centre of Calabria, on the slopes of the Reventino, for over two thousand years mineral water flowed out from springs already known in Roman times as Aque Angae; the four pools of hot water that join with the current of the Bagni river create various degrees of temperature and the last, the warmest of all, with a temperature of up to 39°C, took the name of the mythological Charon (Caronte).
The Terme di Caronte (Thermal Baths of Caronte) are an enchanting place where everything contributes to keeping the promise of well-being.
Located near the beautiful gulf of Sant'Eufemia, immersed in the greenery of a park, surrounded by the Mediterranean scrubland of the Mitoio, the current spa is an advanced thermal complex; here, visitors can relax through wellness programmes or treat ailments and get back in shape. Outside the establishment, the gurna, a “pool” freely accessible throughout the year, that allows to benefit from its water with a high sulphur content and mud, also offers a “low cost” well-being option.
The Terme di Caronte spa includes a modern wellness area where traditional resources such as water and muds are employed together with methods for treating imperfections and fitness in general. Caronte Spa is the ideal place for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation procedures of several pathologies; the temperate climate and uncontaminated environment will help everyone to recover their health and well-being.
The Norman-Swabian castle of Nicastro has always captured the attention of many foreign travellers, who from the 1700s onwards, have visited the Calabria.
History and myth, both alluring but also frightening permanently reside in the castle, cloaked in an aura of mystery. Especially following the disastrous earthquake of 1638, which smashed the castle by burying under the rubble the feudatory prince Cesare d'Aquino, many haunting tales have emerged like that of the lair of the fairies, the hen and golden chicks and especially that of the page and princess. According to tradition, when night falls, fairies emerge from the many caves of the banks of the Canne stream and roam free around the ruins of the castle and among narrow alleys; then, they follow the course of the river to collect flowers, berries and honey.
The castle's history shares many points of reference with Federico II, whom inheriting from his mother Constance of Altavilla all Norman assets, sought immediately to rescue the town of Nicastro from Benedictine feudalism; the Benedictines owned the half of the city, including the castle, giving in return to the abbot, the Benedictine Abbey of St. Euphemia, the lands of Nocera and the hamlet of Aprigliano. From a letter dated 1239, reported in Frederick II’s History of Diplomacy, it would seem that during that year the king had the fortress of the castle restored as well as the roof of the large building that he owned in contrada Carrà, right in the middle of the great forest with the same name that constituted a great hunting reserve and that also was home to the great Basilian monastery of S. Maria del Carrà.
Material evidence of the presence of an ancient settlement in the area of Sant'Eufemia Vetere dates back to about the middle of the nineteenth century, when in 1865 in contrada Terravecchia, a treasure of jewels was found by chance. It was then sold at the end of the same century to the British Museum of London, where it is still preserved today.
Over the course of the twentieth century, other discoveries by chance reinforced the idea of finding within this area the settlement of Terina, but it was only in 1997 that systematic archaeological excavations took place that led to the identification of an organised urban system, confirming the presence of the ancient village of the sub-colony of Crotone.
The area of the town that has been excavated so far, revealed that it was a residential district built according to parallel axes that identify a regular urban grid with the organisation of a well-defined space.
Probably this area must be considered to be a late extension of the town’s system founded in the V century B.C., an era to which the bronze tablet recovered during the excavation campaigns of 2002 refers. During this era, the demiurge was mentioned (a profession that also existed in Crotone); this would be the final confirmation that these traces had belonged to the urban to the town of Terina.
The Bastione di Malta (Stronghold of Malta) is among Lamezia’s best well-preserved architectural assets. Its construction dates back to the mid-sixteenth century, when to face the continuous raids of the Saracens reorganised under the Ottoman flag, which threatened the safety and trade of coastal cities, the viceroy of Naples Don Pedro da Toledo imposed on the communities (at their expense) the strengthening of the existing coastal defence system.
The stretch of coast from Savuto to Turrina was under the jurisdiction of the Hospitaller Order of the Abbey of St Euphemia, known as the Knights of Malta; therefore, along this front, these knights built both the mighty stronghold, which still rises majestically and is in good condition, as the numerous coastal towers to the north and south of it, not far from each other.
The stronghold has a compact structure, truncated pyramid base and overlying square tower, divided internally into four large environments with barrel vaults.
The entrance door to the square tower on the eastern façade is located bears the coat of arms with the shield of the Balì Fra Signorino Gattinara who in the inscription dated 1634 is credited with having equipped the stronghold with war machines.
The Casa del Libro Antico, located in Piazza Campanella, repairs and holds a collection of over two thousand five hundred books printed since the beginning of the sixteenth century in the various Italian and European towns where typographic art flourished, some handwritten works of the same period as well as fragments of Greek and Latin hand-written codes recovered such as maculatures, along with a series of archival evidence.
The collection of books and documents collected includes works of theology, philosophy, patrology, ecclesiastical history and exegesis and is mainly made up of books from the convents of the Capuchins and Dominicans of Nicastro and to a small extent, from the library of the Frati Minimi of Sambiase. In addition, the presence of some older texts on which there are annotations in the margin affixed by Tommaso Campanella's own hand is significant.
The Museum is located in the monumental complex of San Domenico in Lamezia Terme, in the ancient convent of the Dominican Friars.
The Museum houses numerous finds discovered in various sites of the Lamezia Plain and is organised into three sections (prehistoric, classical and medieval) through which it is possible to follow the area’s historical dynamics from the Palaeolithic Age up to the late-medieval period.
The Prehistoric Section is mainly represented by various materials which evidence the presence of Neolithic farmers in the Lamezia Plain. This section displays the most ancient instruments used by the first hunters of the Paleolithic who lived in Calabria. The series of obsidian tools and various fragments of pottery with complex and elegant imprinted geometric motifs belong, instead, to the Neolithic age.
The classical section divided into two rooms is reserved to Terina; the Greek colony founded between the end of the VI and the beginning of the V century B.C. by the Crotonians.
The glass cabinets of the first room display the three-coin treasures that summarise the history of political and economic relations that have affected the Lamezia Plain.
Two important epigraphic documents in bronze referable to the town of Terina are also included in this section, the first dating back to the half of the V century B.C. confirms Terina's filiation by Crotone, mentioning a magistrate’s office that was present in the mother-city; the second on the other hand, a will, offers a glimpse of society in Terina.
A “hydria” with red figures with bridal vanity scenes, datable between the 380 and the 370 B.C comes from one of Terina's necropolis.
The second room displays items that come from the ancient city, but above all, material recovered through surface collecting during recent excavations. In particular, these are commonly used items attesting to the various activities of men and women that were performed inside the oikos (home) and materials related to trade and commerce of products.
The medieval section has three important monuments present in the area of Lamezia Terme: chiesetta dei SS. Quaranta Martiri di Caronte, the Benedictine abbey of S. Euphemia and the Norman-Swabian castle of Nicastro.
From the first, of which there is evidence to support two important construction stages, comes a glass bottle of the VI-VII century, items found in an early medieval burial and some coins of the Angevin period.
Items obtained from the Benedictine abbey include: some architectural elements in marble and stone, fragments of painted plaster and parts of the pavement found in the church's presbytery area, where an extraordinary mosaic surface made during the Norman period (based on known models and symbols), was discovered.
The long history of the Norman-Swabian castle of Nicastro that goes from the Norman to the vice-royal stage, can finally, can be grasped through the items,that bear witness to the life that took place inside; the architectural elements evidence the moment’s moments of greatest splendour.
The Museum is located in the Palazzo del Seminario Vescovile di Lamezia Terme. A large number of items coming from the ancient diocese of Nicastro and Martirano were added to the original collection, composed mostly by liturgical items.
The collection on display is one of the most important of Calabrian diocesan museums. The items preserved are evidence of a great artistic value and workmanship.
The exhibition, broken down into seven sections, displays for the most part works and items made by the southern masters and local authorities in an time-frame that ranges from the XV to XX century and narrates the evolution of the diocese’s history and of the items produced by it.
The many items on display, mostly related to sacred garments and silver liturgical objects, also include: a wooden and painted ivory casket, of Arab-Sicilian manufacture; two wooden, copper and brass reliquary arms of St Stefan and St John deserve attention, from the ancient abbey of St. Euphemia, made by a southern workshop; a wooden and mother-of-pearl casket, from the Cathedral of Martirano, made by a southern workshop; a necklace with golden beads (ex-voto to the Madonna of the Rosary), gift of the Confraternita del SS. Rosario di Nicastro.
Worthy of note is the marble statue of the Madonna with Child called “Madonna delle Grazie”, which comes from the ancient convent of the Poor Clares of Nicastro (Clarisses) and is attributed to Domenico Gagini.
The botanical garden, created from 1972, includes a variety of plants that exceeds a thousand species.
It is currently implementing a project with the aim of recovering an area of specific environmental value to render it usable also through the creation of structures which are deemed useful for educating citizens to respect nature.
The Urban Park is a large green lung of approximately 15,000 sq. m created by the Municipal Administration in 2006, in the heart of the district of San Pietro Lametino. The design brief has focused on the use of the environmental resource as a strategic element of urban regeneration through the recovery of a degraded area.
The main goal of the project is to involve citizens in the park’s life, by involving them in recreational and leisure activities as well as sports.
Cattedrale dei lametini (Lamezia's Cathedral), dedicated to the Saints Peter and Paul, is raised and boasts an impressive façade. Located in the heart of Lamezia Terme, in Nicastro's main street is the “Neocastrum bizantina”. Built in 1640 and subsequently remodelled, today displays a Neoclassical style that can be admired in its imposing and gleaming façade, decorated with marble busts of Saints Peter and Paul, while two niches stand which contain the popes Marcello II and Innocent IX; the town’s bishops.
Its interior, with three naves, houses significant works, such as the green marble holy water stoup of Calabria of the XVII century, the wooden choir with precious inlays and a remarkable organ of the XX century.
The statue is located in the district of Nicastro, in an idyllic position and is of great symbolic significance. It reproduces the features of the glorious King Frederick II, known as stupor mundi, holding a hawk with his face and forefinger pointing towards the ruins of the Norman-Swabian castle, a symbol of power, both political and administrative, during his reign.
The gastronomic route is perhaps one of the best ways to get to know Lamezia thoroughly.
Typical dishes can be sampled in agritourism farms and local restaurants. They include stuffed aubergines, fried peppers and potatoes, salted codfish with black olives, “grispelle” (home-made potato and flour fritters) and home-made mixed pickled vegetables. Quality cured meats, sausages and salamis are excellent, especially the “soppressata”; a very spicy artisan-made salami. Delicious local dairy products include “butirro” (provola cheese with butter block inside). Typical sweets are also tasty and include: “cuzzupe” (egg pastries prepared during the Easter period) and “turdiddi” (sweet dumplings prepared during Christmas).