PALAZZO DEL PRINCIPE
The palace of the Prince was built in the XVIII century by the prince Antonio Spinelli and was mainly used to host the aristocracy of scale during summer. The palace was probably built on the remains of an old roman villa, in the area of Dino. After the marriage of the prince Scordia Pietro Lanza Branciforte with the princess of Scalea, Eleonora Caracciolo ( last heir of the family Spinelli), that took place on 29th June 1832, the whole feud, palace included, was inherited by the noble Sicilian family of the Lancia Branciforte from Trabia.
The building is located on the northern part of the hill leaning towards Capo Scalea, now villa of the Princes Lanza. The plan of the palace is square with a base measuring thirty metres for thirty-six, on two floors, with premises that communicated one into the other all around an inner courtyard. The ground floor was used as a warehouse , with the upper floor was used as the family residence.
The whole structure itself is very imposing and presents precious architectonical elements like three large curved windows, on the main door and the courtyard, in front of it two symmetrical and elegant staircases lead the visitor to the upper floor .
In the residential area, attention worthy a three-arched loggia. The area also remains of fireplaces in all the premises and for symmetrical niches used as rest-rooms
Once San Nicola was a small village of Scalea, as witnessed by the rich philological heritage connected to the name of its inhabitants, called ‘ Casalicchio’.
Truly the real name of the village was San Nicola dei Bulgari, only in 1912 it was given the actual name of San Nicola Arcella, this name seems to derive from the earth on which the town is still located, in other words ‘ rock’ ( in latin arx ) where the survivers of Lavinium found shelter, Lavinium was an old roman city, built on the edge of the river Lao, after the destruction of the city ‘ LAOS’ , which was assaulted by the barbarians from the north .
As recorded by the chronicles of the middle age, Robert the Guiscard, brother of Ruggiero I, showed for the first time his cruel temper to the people of Calabria and his political aims, right on the area of Scalea, of which , as mentioned before, San Nicola was a village.
According to the medieval historians, in this area, Robert the Guiscard seized a group of merchants from Amalfi to robe them and then defeated the local defensive system, organized in a castrum of Longobardi period, to collocated his followers to the power.
Robert the Guiscard and his followers understood straight – away the strategic importance of the territory and most of all, of Scalea, where they built a manor , that was described by the Arabian geographer Al-Idrisi as ‘ beautiful and attention-worthy’ and in 1190, during the war of the Vespro, was visited by Richard I, the brave heart. The arageonese maintained the control on the area until the victory of Charles I of Angio’ , when Scalea was attached to the County of Lauria.
In 1442 San Nicola becaume a feud of the Sanseverino family, while in 1501 it passed to the Caracciolo, with Giovanni Andrea being the main character , he was the one who bought the manor of Scalea, making it on of the most important defensives buildings on the gulf of Policastro.
Later on San Nicola , passed , from female line, to the family Spinelli, whose forefather, Giovan Battista was either duke of Castrovillari and Cariati .
The Spinelli family owned San Nicola from 1566 as its principality until the end of feudalism , declared by the French in 1806.
In XVIII century the prince Scordia Pietro Lanza Branciforte , having married Eleonora, last heir of the Spinelli family of Scalea, became prince and inherited the all feud and in the area Dino he built his summer residence, an imposing palace which can still be seen from the road.
The administrative independence was achieved in 1912, when San Nicola Arcella became an independent municipality , thanks to the intercession of Alessandro Siciliano, economist and writer of three processes aiming at the valorization of the coffee , philanthropist , founder of many philanthropic institutes and social pensions for the poor. Thanks to Siciliano, San Nicola Arcella abandoned for good the status of village of Scalea, becoming a municipality , whose first elected mayor was Michele Tenuta.
Contemporary history of San Nicola Arcella is strictly coonected to the personalities and events of its inhabitants. Without any doubt, one of the most important personalities of the history of San Nicola is the American writer Crawford, he came to live here at the end of XIX century, in the wath tower, that inspired most of his stories , telling thus the life of this fishermen village of that time. Other important personalities of San Nicola Arcella , living in the XX century are : Amedeo and Antonio Barletta, awarded with as knights of Labour, immigrated in south America , around 1912, where they became important entrepreneurs . In 1932, they donated to the municipality of San Nicola Arcella, the nursery school, entitled to their mother, Filomena Barletta.
The town is located right on the sea, on the extreme end of the gulf of Policastro, with a panoramic point, at 110 metres , leaning on the isle of Dino, at the feet of the Serra La Limpida, southern part of the Mount Sirino, in a typical morphological position that reminds the coast of Maratea, the old town of San Nicola Arcella presents a structure made up old narrow streets, covered in stone, and paths that lead to important cultural sites, like the one leading to the Arco Magno ( the big Arch) the one of the Church of San Nicola from Tolentino , and the rocky path of the mount Coppuliello, all of this, creates, despite the presence of man, a landscape of rare beauty and integrity.
The town is suspended between the sea and the rocks , San Nicola became, thanks to its own peculiar conformation , one of the most important Norman colonies, whose traces can still be seen throughout the old town .
In San Nicola Arcella still survive all those marking features that make its landscape unique, beautiful and peculiar , desired by travellers and by those who chose to live here like the American writer Crawford. Here ,in this place, nature, even if taunted by human presence in some panoramic points, in places where we find the architectonical emergency ‘ torre Saracena’, the palace of the princes, etc., is in total harmony with the surrounding environment and is a part of it , which cannot be separated , remaining almost untouched, and worthy to be protected , saved and valorized.
Witness of such unique beauty is the indented coast , made up by a lively reef leaning on the sea, with imposing cliffs and sandy bays, characterized by the presence of many ‘ romantic ’ coves bathed by crystal-blue waters on one side, and the green luxuriant vegetation on the other, made up of pines, holms , where the lentiscus and bilberry grow.
On this coast, nature, with its silver colours, painted coves , imbued by magic, like the Arco Magno (the big arch) and the Etnea Grotto, little beaches, like the beach of Canalgrande and of Fiuzzi, and a huge bay, jealously protected by the enchanting ‘Crawford Tower’, representing its natural harbour.