The town is a puzzling maze of pretty little lanes and piazzas. The cobbled streets are lined with old buildings made from golden stone and at various points, flights of stairs descend down to the beaches below. On a clear day you can easily see the volcanic island of Stromboli from the waterfront promenade and it is possible to book a boat trip over there for the day.
The most famous view of Tropea is of the large rock outcrop jutting into the sea a few hundred meters from the town. At the top is the monastery, Santa Maria dell'Isola, built in the 7th century. Other buildings worth visiting are the beautiful Norman Cathedral and the churches of San Francesco and Santa Maria della Neve. If you explore the streets you'll find traces of the old town wall and fortifications which defended the landward side.
Legend has it that Tropea was founded by Hercules, when he returned after completing one of his 12 labors. Historical records, instead, tells us about the African Publio Scipione, who returning victoriously from the Battle of Zama (202 BC), founded a city and offered it as a trophy of gratitude to the gods for the victory, from which the town took its name. The area was inhabited as far back as Neolithic times, and has been occupied, at various times, by the Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Anjous and Aragonese, as well as being attacked by Turkish pirates.