If you want nightclubs, 5-star hotels and non stop entertainment on your doorstep, best if you stop reading now! But if you want authentic Italy and it's...
Where is it?
Tropea has that lovely timeless, faded feel that is a characteristic of sleepy southern Italian seaside towns. The town is a maze of pretty lanes and palazzi and little hidden squares where you'll usually find restaurant tables. The heart of town is up on the headland and if you explore the streets you'll find traces of the old town wall and fortifications which defended the landward side.
There is a tourist information office in the central square, Piazza Ercole, and there are a few agencies which book boat trips and excursions and can provide further advice to tourists.
The most famous views of Tropea are of the large rock outcrop jutting into the sea opposite the centre of Tropea. This was once an island and the attractive monastery on the summit, Santa Maria dell'Isola, sits in gardens above the sea. Tropea has enjoyed significant prosperity throughout the centuries, evidenced by the many churches, grand palaces and majestic portals throughout the town centre.
Tropea's Norman cathedral, the Duomo, is one of the most interesting buildings in town. The patron saint of the town is the Madonna of Romania - celebrated as the town's protectress through earthquakes and wars. An icon bearing an image of this venerated Madonna is carried through town in a procession during religious festivals. Tropea has a little museum, the Museo Diocesano, in the Bishop's Palace, the Palazzo Vescovile, by the Duomo. It contains mostly religous art including painted wooden statues and silver reliquaries (open April - October; hours are limited).
It is Tropea's position high on the cliffs which makes the town so dramatic. There are beaches on either side of the town where you can choose from fee-charging beach establishments with sunbeds and parasols, or stretches of free beach where you can spread your own towel. The water is invitingly clear. There are plenty of other beaches along the coast and for a slightly different beach experience you can walk along past the town's smart marina to another beach just beyond.
Eating, drinking and shopping
Tropea is full of small and affordable restaurants serving pizza and traditional local meals. You will find similar menus throughout town, generally offering the chance to try local seafood and the town's big speciality: sweet red onions. Other local treats to try include of course ice cream - for wild and bizarre flavours, visit Tonino's on the main street - and latte di mandorla, almond milk, a refreshing and cooling drink.
One souvenir shop that is definitely worth a visit is Il Faro Presepi on Via Stazione, which sells nativity scenes and features a display of little moving models illustrating traditional Calabrian lifestyles: good fun and interesting too. Tropea is very famous for its red onions and chillis. You can buy strings of onions along with other local foods and wines in many places in town. Those who like pepper and hot, spicy food will appreciate the region's fiery products.
Travel and transport
The nearest airport to Tropea is at Lamezia Terme. From the airport, catch a bus or take a taxi to Lamezia Terme station. The train journey to Tropea takes an hour and costs just over €6. Tropea is on a scenic little railway line which branches off from the main Naples - Reggio di Calabria route at Lamezia Terme and follows the bulge of coast around Capo Vaticano before meeting up with the mainline again at Rosarno. Tropea railway station is a short 5 minute walk from the centre of town.
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