Tropea - The Cliffside Town

Tropea is a seaside resort located in the region of Calabria, in the south of Italy. The town is perched on top of an imposing cliff, in the gulf of St. Euphemia which is connected with the mainland by a narrow strip in the Tyrrhenian Sea. This stretch of coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea is called the Costa degli Dei – the “Coast of the Gods”, and is one of Italy’s finest summer holiday destinations. With dramatic cliffs overlooking a crystal clear blue sea and sunny beaches, Tropea is a famous bathing place. Although it is not particularly well-known to English-speaking travellers, Tropea is popular with Italians.

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.