7 reasons to go to Tropea
On the instep of the Italian boot lies a small town that will simply blow you away. Nestled on the southern coast of the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea offers more than just sun and sand (beautiful though its beaches are!). The town is considered to be one of the finest holiday destinations in Italy, though its small size means that it has retained its own character.
Tropea has a timeless quality so typical of Italian towns, with its winding lanes and hidden palazzi. With a history dating back to the Ancient Greeks and an annual calendar of festivities, there’s also plenty to experience here.
What’s more, Tropea benefits from great transport links to nearby destinations such as the lovely fishing village of Scilla, Pizzo – which is famous for its ice cream – or the Aeolian Islands. We’ve compiled a list of the best things about this unique resort, so read on and find out why a language course here might be just the right thing for you!
1. Picturesque scenery
With the sea to the north and the Calabrian hills to the south, Tropea not only offers so much visual variety but it also perfectly embodies the word ‘picturesque’. If legends are to be believed, Tropea was once referred to as ‘Hercules’ Haven’, because Hercules himself founded the town. Upon arriving on the Calabrian coast, he was so impressed by its natural beauty that he settled here to rest after one of his many adventures – and if the son of Zeus himself declares a location to be his favourite, there must be something to it!
Indeed, the crystal blue sea, white sand, lush hills, and ancient architecture are stunning to behold. You can take a photo wherever you are in this town and you’ll have a great postcard to send to your friends and family!
2. The Coast of the Gods
Living in Tropea means living on the edge – literally! The city lies on a cliff high above the beach and overlooks the Coast of the Gods, which stretches 55 km along the Tyrrhenian Sea. The name is not an exaggeration – this area of the world is so beautiful and mesmerising that only the gods themselves could have created such landscape.
At the beach, crystal coastal waters – shimmering blue and turquoise under the burning sun – meet the fine white sand of the shore. This is an ideal place to relax after lessons, whether you’re a sunbather, a swimmer, or a surfer. Whatever you do, make time to soak up the laid-back atmosphere and the aesthetics of this gorgeous piece of Italian coastline .
3. A tenacious town
When you’ve finished sunbathing at the coast, take a look around the town – it will be well worth your time! The narrow streets have the their own charm and every now and then you may find a hidden courtyard with a lovely café or restaurant. The majority of eateries are locally-run, so they offer a great opportunity to witness the town’s culture and practice your language skills!
One thing to know about this town is that it’s been rebuilt numerous times over the last several centuries. Successive earthquakes destroyed much of the infrastructure, and each time the buildings were re-erected by the townsfolk.
Though tragic, this history gives Tropea its own character and beauty, since it shows the sheer will of humanity. Perhaps it’s the influence of Hercules that means the locals don’t simply give up and quit but start again and make things better …
Despite being a small city that doesn’t have as many attractions as Venice, Pisa, or Rome, Tropea has authentic Italian flair and its own delightful character, so it’s the ideal destination if you’re looking to detox from city life and experience small-town Italy for yourself.
4. Sanctuary of Saint Maria
Towering over the coast on the edge of town is the Sanctuary of Saint Maria. This church is made entirely from white stone and has a long history. Built in the Middle Ages, it started as a small, cube-like building and was extended over time. Inside, you’ll find the portrait of Santa Maria that gives the building its name.
The story goes that a ship bearing an image of the Virgin Mary crashed into the island during a storm. After the disaster, the town’s bishop began seeing visions of Mary, who told him that the town needed her protection from a devastating earthquake. The bishop arranged a procession that took the townsfolk out of Tropea and to safety – when the devastating earthquake destroyed the town, its people were unharmed. Since then, pilgrims have come to Tropea from far and wide to visit the painting and thank Santa Maria for her protection.
The only thing more dramatic than this building is the ground it’s built on. Sitting on a rocky promontory just off the shoreline, this church really does stand out from the crowd. The outcrop was once hard to reach from the shore, but is now easier to get to thanks to the tremendous staircase up the rock-side. You don’t have to be a saint to visit this church, which is perhaps the most iconic monument in Tropea. And who knows – perhaps Santa Maria will make a miracle happen for you!
5. Mediterranean cuisine ahead!
In Tropea, you can easily get your hands on the ‘traditional’ Italian dishes like pizza or pasta. But this town is famous for something different and rather unusual: sweet red onions!
The ‘Red Queen of Italy’ comes in many forms and shapes. If you don’t want to eat it raw like a local, why not try it in soup? Not a soup person? It features on the menus of most of the in local restaurants, so you’ll be spoilt for choice for ways to try it. For example, why not start your day with sweet onion jam? Or, if you prefer, take the heat off a sunny day with some sweet onion ice cream! With a stay in Tropea, you can’t escape the many faces of the red onion …
If the Queen doesn’t win you over, we definitely recommend sampling the local seafood – most of the restaurants serve fresh fish caught that very day!
6. Save some dough while you go
Travelling can hit your wallet hard, not just because of the cost of your stay itself but also because of the general cost of living in many popular destinations. Fortunately, that’s not the case in Tropea!
You can fully enjoy your time in restaurants, bars, cafés, and stores without counting every cent you spend. Whilst big tourist cities may raise the price of even the simplest things, Tropea stays humble – most of the goods you’ll find in the local shops won’t break the bank. What’s more, the reasonable price of food and drink means you’ve got all the more reason to sample the Red Queen of Italy!
7. Sunset over paradise
After a day of Italian lessons, adventures in or around Tropea, or perhaps a relaxing day on the beach, you’ll witness a beautiful moment as the sun sets, covering the town in a wonderful golden hue. Enjoy the view from the cliff, the beach, or perhaps even the Sanctuary of Santa Maria. It’s a breath-taking view that you’ll treasure forever.
While Tropea isn’t really world-famous, it’s the ideal destination for everyone who likes an authentic experience and a town that lives life at a leisurely pace. No one will rush you in this tremendous place, so you can discover it as you please and learn about the Italian way of life.