In 1571 Gabriele Barrio, Calabria’s first historian mentioned a famous wine from Filocastro, a tiny village in the area. While plotting the history of Calabria one of his students, Girolamo Marafioti, talked of the vineyards in Nicotera that were overflowing with ripe berries to be made into wine. Even the historians that came after him talked of prestigious wines in this tiny, almost unknown corner of the region.
Another crucial moment in placing Nicotera on the map was in the 1930s when a large industrial group from Italy’s wealthy north, Gallinara, decided to set up a winery to make transport between this rich winegrowing region and the markets of northern Italy and France easier. In fact, Gallinara was one of the most prominent locomotive companies at the time and so it was this easy connection to the economically booming north, along with its unique and fertile terroir that differentiated Nicotera from other areas.
It was in this same period that Francesco Comerci, a wine producer who was active in politics, made a proposal to the local council to introduce a law to protect and develop viticulture in the area.
Nicotera was founded by the people of nearby Locri in the 6th century BC. It takes its name from a pre-Roman period when a crucial battle was won and literally means ‘the wonder of victory!’. Until the time of Robert Guiscard, Nicotera was historically known as a small village that had been ransacked by the Saracens. When the Normans arrived the town transformed: it was given its own castle and ramparts, but unfortunately the sea continued to bring with it death and destruction, with numerous raids being carried out over the centuries. This was until Federico II arrived and led Nicotera into a new, flourishing era.
Today Nicotera is a small hamlet that enjoys an enviable position overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and is flanked by the Ruffo Castle and the local cathedral, Our Lady of the Assumption.
(foto © Blackburn Collection, School of Public Health, Minnesota University).