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Lido at San Nicola
by Jesse Andrews

Centro Storico, San Nicola
by Jesse Andrews

Piazza, San Nicola
by Jesse Andrews

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

Welcome to San Nicola Arcella
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 1,375 (2003)
Official site:

Set high upon cliffs overlooking a crescent shaped bay filled with the aqua-marine waters of the Mediterranean, sits the quaint village of San Nicola Arcella. Upon entry into this sea-side resort town, it’s easy to understand why so many Italian vacationers return here year after year.  Many northerners have bought homes to enjoy the quiet beaches and enchanting waters of the Mediterranean at the village’s feet and the clean Calabrese air which passes through the mountains at its back. 

Perched between the two larger towns of Praia a Mare and Scalea, San Nicola offers a nice retreat from these busier places during the summer months, though at night the village turns into one of the Cedri Riviera’s most chic “see and be seen” night scenes.  The "winers and diners" come from as far away as Amalfi and Tropea to enjoy the lavish gardens and superlative live music within the confines of an old Roman Villa, known as Clubbino.”

The sea-food and pasta dishes at Clubbino, like many others in San Nicola including Oriente and Furano are excellent.  The local fisherman in the area catch fresh Mediterranean fish each day of the year, serving some of the Cedri Riviera’s unparalleled sea food.  The cost of eating-out in San Nicola however is surprisingly inexpensive. Local house wines contribute additional culinary depth. 

San Nicola isn’t all wining and dining.  The long history of the village, though not well recorded in the local museum, is evident on the below the village, where a Roman guarding tower used to defend against the Saracene and Byzantine invaders.

The tower is known by the locals as “Torre Crawford”, named as such after the famous American novelist Francis Marion Crawford, who is said to have fallen in love with the myth surrounding a princess who was said to have been kept by enemies in the tower.  Out of the arms of her lover, she died of heart break.

Crawford set many of his romance and ghost stories in the town of San Nicola.  Are the ghosts real?  Well, Antonio, a local villager,  told me if you go at night to the tower you can hear the cries of the princess.   

San Nicola has a lively piazza in the “centro storico”, where the old buildings are colorfully decorated.  Within the historical centre, is a castle built by Prince Pietro Lanza Braciforte for his bride Eleonora Spinelli in the 14th century.  Since that time, numerous noble families in the area have inhabited it, though now it is run down.  Its importance to the area throughout history is commemorated outside.

The Church of San Nicoal da Tolentino constructed in the 17th century is worth a visit for the ceiling decoration and wood carved statues which are estimated to date back to the 16th century.  In addition, there is a small museum in San Nicola but it’s not open on a regular basis during the summer and is closed during the rest of the year.

The best times to visit San Nicola Arcella is from May to October, where excursions by boat to the Grottos in nearby cliffs and lidos with numerous activities for children are open.  Throughout the year is a tranquil, simple village with superb restaurants and a novel history turned into an historical novel.

Region of Calabria

Cedri Riviera





Hotel villa Principe



Byzantine tower at San Nicola
by Jesse Andrews


Tell us about your trip to San Nicola.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Contribute
Did you know?
Francis Marion Crawford the novelist who fell in love with San Nicola Arcellas is a famous American Ghost Story writer.  He knew over 10 languages and wrote numerous novels, some of which take the setting of this hisotric seaside town and and involved the tower, which even today the inhabitants of San Nicola believe is haunted.  For more information on Crawford, check this out: Bartelby's