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Dome on the Duomo, Paola

Entrance to the Santuario di San Francesco, Paola

Coast at Paola

View of Paola from the Sea



Most photos on VisitsItaly are by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at:


Welcome to Paola
Home of San Francesco di Paola

From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 18,000 (2005)
Official site:

Paola sits on the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Lamezia Terme, and due west from Cosenza.  It is a delightful, airy town, with a modern, seaside ambience along its  lungomare, but in its older, higher quarters inland from the shore, it has an ancient, medieval atmosphere as well.

George Gissing writes of Paola in his novel By the Ionian Sea (1901) upon arriving by boat in the town's harbour:

For an hour I rambled about the town's one street, very picturesque and rich in colour, with rushing fountains where women drew fair water in jugs and jars of antique beauty. Whilst I was thus loitering in the sunshine, two well-dressed men approached me, and with somewhat excessive courtesy began conversation. They understood that I was about to drive to Cosenza. A delightful day, and a magnificent country! They too thought of journeying to Cosenza.

The modern traveler will find the same gregariousness and open hospitality among Paolese today.

Paola is one of the Tyrrehnian Coast's busiest sea-side centres and easily accessible by car, boat or train.  There should be no problem in locating Paola as it is well marked and well-serviced by railroads, highways and boat.  Navigating the town itself may be somewhat difficult for first time visitors.  Opt for leaving your car at the Sanctuary and walking down throug the town to get familliarized.

The local people are proud of the fact that their city is the birthplace of San Francesco di Paola (1416-1507), founder of the Minims, the strictest order of the Franciscans.  Indeed, Paola is a place that has developed and continues to retain a deeply religious aspect and those travelers who enjoy visiting churches and other religious buildings, have plenty to see in Paola.

The Santuario di San Francesco, above the town and up from the SS18 highway to the north, dates from 1435 and is fronted by a long piazza with a modern statue and obelisk commemorating the Holy Year of 1950.

For more information on the history
of San Francesco, click here

The basilica, dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli, has recently been restored. Its fašade is an unusual mixture of Renaissance and Baroque motifs.  The interior contains the 16C Cappella del Santo and 15C and 16C artworks of the Neapolitan school.  Adjacent is a small cloister. 

In central Paola are several churches, which may be of minor interest: the Santissima Annunziata, set high in the town was built in the 13C and later redecorated in the Baroque manner.  It has recently been restored to its former state.  Above the high altar, with its marble inlay, is a 16C paining of the Annunciation.   A descent into the town may be made by the steps to the left of the church, which pass by a pleasing Baroque fountain, through the Porta San Francesco, with another fountain at its centre. 

Rising at the back of the piazza you will see the Baroque fašade of the church of Santa Maria di Monte VergineSanta Caterina, with a Gothic portal dating to1493, houses a painting of the Madonna delle Grazie attributed to Domenicio Beccafumi.

Shops and businesses are closed during the siesta period (1 PM -4 PM) so time your arrival for lunch and enjoy a tasty Calabrian meal at one of the local restaurants.  Or arrive after 4 - and explore the town while you work-up an appetite for a hearty dinner.

by Jesse Andrews, October 10th, 2005

Region of Calabria

Cedri Riviera


By Car: 62 km orth of Lamezia Terme on the SS18.  26 km west of Cosenza on the SS107.


Park Hotel
Hotel Zilema

Who was San Fracesco di Paola?

Inside the Town Hall



Baroque Fountain in Paola's main Piazza


Tell us about your trip to Paola.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Talk Italy Forum