San Donato di Ninea! My discover…
If you follow the posts here on the website, you are aware of my passion for Calabria and for discovering new places in this region where I chose to establish my life. A few weeks ago, my husband surprised me by taking me to a village I had never heard of – and which turned out to be a huge discovery as I fell in love with this small village called San Donato di Ninea, which, of course, is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited!
The place is of endless peace and tranquility, ideal for those looking for a more alternative tourism and want to know how the locals in Italy really live. So today our post is dedicated to introduce you to this amazing place. Discover San Donato di Ninea! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? LOOKING FOR A HOTEL IN CALABRIA? Check our suggestions! Click here!
Watch this video before continuing to read the text!
About San Donato di Ninea
Located in northern Calabria, it is a small mountain town, with 81 square kilometers and just over two thousand inhabitants. Although small, it hosts large monuments and ancient churches, ideal for a tour with a more historic profile. In addition, it is very peaceful and hospitality is characteristic of the residents.
What to do in San Donato di Ninea?
Discover the main historical sights in San Donato di Ninea.
1) Church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta o della Motta
The construction of this church dates back to the 10th and early 11th centuries, expressing the romantic culture of the region. Its location, hegemonic in relation to the city, guarantees an incredible view, from the Esaro valley to the Ionian Sea. The church houses many exceptional works of art, such as the paintings “Beata Vergine Maria Assunta con gli Apostoli” (in free translation,“Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption with the Apostles) and Gloria di Angeli (glory of the angels); the latter is considered miraculous, but its authorship is unknown.
2) Church Madre Arcipretura S.S. Trinità
The construction of this church, located in the center of the village, began in 1500, but was only officially completed in 1631, when it received the bell tower. Its walls are adorned with Corinthian capitals and inside, with large windows, three frescoes have been preserved: San Pietro, San Michele Arcangelo and San Donato. Right at the entrance, you can see a grand wooden altar in baroque style, gilded, along with a painting of Madonna del Rosario with San Domenico. The objects preserved in the place have a lot of historical, artistic and also religious value.
- The beauty of this village is literally getting lost in its alleys. I advise you to park near Church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta (at the entrance to Via Castelo – check the map below – there will be several free parking lots), visit the church and visit other places and get lost in the alleys.
- Wear very comfortable clothes and shoes, as it is a maze made up of many ascents and descents.
San Donato di Ninea Map
A little beyond San Donato di Ninea
Close to the small town’s housing center, there are two magical places that you can take advantage of the trip and reach easily: Santuario di Sant’Angelo and La grotta di San Vito.
Santuario di Sant’Angelo
The Santuario di Sant’Angelo (“St Angel’s Sanctuary”) is 2km away from the inhabited area, in the district of Santo Angelo. Basically, there are two interconnected caves – in the first one you can see two stone altars, probably built by artisans, with the image of St Michael the Archangel. In the second cave, there are indications that people inhabited it a long time ago. Right at the entrance, marked by a staircase and an arch, it is possible to see a fresco on the altar depicting the Saint defeating the devil.
The history of the place is very interesting: it is believed that the caves were once used as a cemetery for Lombard leaders, who had Saint Michael the Archangel as their patron, and that later, in the 7th and 9th centuries, they became a place of monastic immigration.
La Grotta di San Vito
La Grotta di San Vito is located in the district of the same name. It is also a cave, where St Vitus was venerated, and has ruins of two altars and some paintings. It is considered the second rock church in San Donato and, next to the Santuario di Sant’Angelo, is a unique heritage of the region.
San Donato di Ninea Festivities
Religious festivities, mainly, mark the village’s festivities calendar. The main ones are:
La Festa dell’Assunta
It takes place on May 23rd and 24th and is marked by a procession that takes a Madonna painting (artistic representation of the Virgin Mary) through the city, for the adoration of the believers. Still on the 23rd, the procession begins to walk, with torches and lanterns lit.
La Festa di San Donato
Between August 4th and 7th, a series of activities to honor the patron saint occurs. On the first day, the statue is transferred, in procession, from the Church SS Trinità to the district of Pantano, 3 km from the city. On the fifth and 6th, the faithful go there to say their prayers and thanks. On the seventh, the statue is brought back to the village, also accompanied by a procession and music. On the sixth, at night, an orchestra performs in Piazza Mercato. On the last day, after a fireworks presentation, there is a new musical presentation to close the festivity.
La Festa d’ Autunno
It takes place from October 28th to November 5th, in a festival format, with a focus on the region’s gastronomy, such as the San Donato chestnut, and presentations by folklore groups, dance groups, and excursions to the Pollino Park.
How to get to San Donato di Ninea?
The small village of San Donato di Ninea is 128km from Lamezia Terme Airport, so you will need a car – the trip takes an average of 1h30, but at the airport itself there are car rental services to make this transport possible.
Traveling by car in Italy
How about if I give you a rental car option? Are you ready for it? If you are renting a car be sure to read our posts in the section Driving in Italy on the blog Your Travel to Italy. In addition to car itinerary tips, we have everything about signage, tolls, roads and many more tips.
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- If you are driving in Italy, you need the International Driving Permit (if you’re not European Citizen).
What to see near San Donato di Ninea?
Located on top of a hill, Morano Calabro is a village of very ancient origin – the first reference dates back to the 2nd century BC, and the composition of white houses resemble a waterfall, with the castle of Morano on top. In 2018, it was among the 20 most beautiful villages in Italy.
Civita is defined as a village among rocks, it is situated between huge mountains in the valley, providing a phenomenal view of nature – one side with a Mediterranean plant scene and, on the other, Raganello Canyon, entrance to the Pollino National Park.
Altomonte: the main attractions of this village, considered medieval and located at the foot of the Pollino National Park, are the old church and the Castle of Altomonte. If you are in San Donato di Ninea, don’t miss the opportunity to discover it!
Known as the “Athens of Calabria”, Cosenza has a privileged position and is one of the most liveable cities in the region. It has a Mediterranean climate and many artistic, historical and cultural attractions.
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San Donato di Ninea has earned the title of one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever seen, so I strongly recommend the trip if you want to know the true Italian way of life or if you are looking for a more peaceful destination, with little bustle, but with a lot of peace and coziness!
If you decide to travel to San Donato di Ninea, remember that I am the only English-speaking guide in the territory of Calabria. By hiring our services, you will be able to know every detail of this city and others in the region. Get in touch!
If you feel insecure or don’t have time, and need help organizing your trip, don’t hesitate to contact me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Keep reading this post until the end and you will understand how we make your life and your trip much easier 🙂
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