Casamicciola, changed to Casamicciola Terme (Baths) by the ministerial decree of 1956, has been the spa centre par excellence since ancient times. It covers 5.7 square kilometres and lies between the foot of Mount Epomeo and the sea. It can be divided into two parts; the ‘upper’ part, which include the hamlets Sentinella, Maio, Piazza Bagni and the ‘lower’ part which include the hamlets Perrone and Marina.
The town’s coat of arms shows a woman dipping her legs into a stream. This image reminds one of the legend behind the name ‘Casa Nizzola’. A Roman matron called Nizzola, who could not walk, dipped her legs into the hot water of a stream nearby her house and was cured. The news spread like wild fire and many sick and invalid people hurried to the ‘casa of Nizzola’ (Nizzola’s house).
Casamicciola has been known by other names over the centuries, although it has always kept the part ‘Casa’. In the sixteenth century the academic R. Gatthmann called it ‘Casa Mezula’ in his work ‘De Caloris medicatorum causa…’. In the same century the Calabrian doctor Giulio Iasolino called it ‘Casanizzola’ in his work ‘De rimedi naturali…’ . Giustiniani used the term ‘Casmiccio’ in the nineteenth century, while the Forian historian Giuseppe D’Ascia explained the name as coming from ‘casa in insula’ (house on the island). An Italian dictionary of etymology explains the ancient name ‘Casamiccio’ by saying that the second part ‘Miccio’ refers to somebody’s name.
The town has suffered various earthquakes over the centuries, which have completely changed its morphology. It was already a well-known tourist resort when the most disastrous earthquake of 1883 happened, which completely destroyed the town. Indeed, Casamicciola has been home to an international tourism since the 1600s, reaching maximum popularity in the nineteenth century.
The beauty of the landscape, the healthy air and the numerous healing spas – among which the Gurgitello spring of international fame – have brought princes, such as Ludivic I of Bavaria who stayed at Panella, or writers such as De Lamartine and Renan, the Norwegian dramatist Henry Ibsen and Italian and foreign painters alike inspired by the beauty of the area.
The hero of the Italian uprising, Giuseppe Garibaldi, came here to heal his wounds after the battle at Aspromonte. The villa Zavota in the hamlet of Sentinella where he stayed has a memorial plaque on one of its walls. Even the great maestro Arturo Toscanini found relief in the miraculous spa waters of Casamicciola. Casamicciola has been celebrated by men of letters and both Italian and foreign artists, whose works can be found in national and foreign museums and private collections.
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