Sun, sea and culture in Tropea

We’ve recently returned from a holiday in Tropea, Calabria and I can’t wait to share with you what a beautiful part of Italy it is. Tropea is a fairly small but bustling seaside town with an impressive coastline. So impressive it’s called the Costa degli Dei or the ‘Coast of the Gods’. We’ve been to many beach holidays in Italy and Tropea’s sea is certainly one of the best. In fact, I may need to update this post on five of the best Italian beaches to six of the best!

Tropea beach from above

Like many of Italy’s glorious seaside towns, they are not that close to the airport. The nearest airport to Tropea is Lamezia Terme, which is around a 50 minute drive away. Unlike the drive from Naples to Positano where you drive mainly along the stunning coastline, the drive to Tropea from Lamezia is pretty dull. I was beginning to have doubts about how pretty Tropea would be but once we turned off the main road and descended into the town, my fears were allayed. The main street is filled with little independent shops, cafes and restaurants and the buildings are old and historic. We even discovered a few restaurants which claim to have opened in the early 1800s!

Tropea town with church

We chose to stay in an AirBnB, which was right in the centre of the town and were delighted with our choice. It was absolutely gorgeous – really modern and beautifully designed and furnished. The bonus was it also had three terraces, one of which had a lovely view of the sea.

View from the AirBnB

Tropea is fairly small but not small enough that you are easily bored after a few days. There are lots of restaurants, which we were quite surprised about so there are many places to choose from when it comes to eating out. We were also surprised by how many non-Italian tourists there were! In fact, the night before we had stayed at the Radisson Blu in Stansted as our flight was at 6:30am and met a British couple who were off to Tropea to buy a property. Our AirBnB was also owned by a non-Italian. Perhaps we’ll put Tropea on our property list…

Tropea is actually famous for an onion. Yes, you heard it right! The Tropea onion can be found all over the town and is featured on many menus. We even discovered chocolate with onion and there was a gelateria serving onion ice-cream…. With my husband’s extreme aversion to onions, we pretty much avoided it at all costs! Although I did have a right chuckle that we’d gone on a holiday to a town dedicated to an onion.

Onions apart, we did however indulge in lots of delicious, fresh seafood and good wine. Oh and lots of ice-cream too, just not onion flavoured. Tropea is also famous for tartuffo, which is an ice-cream dessert in a dome-shape and usually consists of two flavours. I’m sorry to report that we didn’t have one – preferring instead to just have gelato.

Food from Tropea

When we weren’t eating, we were swimming in Tropea’s beautiful waters. There are many beaches, some paid for (private beaches where you pay for a sunbed and/or umbrella) and public beaches. Tropea sits high on cliffs overlooking the sea so, unless you have a car or scooter, there are a few stairs to walk down to get to the beach. Luckily we had a scooter although we did walk the first day and it was totally worth it. If you’ve ever walked in Capri to the private beach by the famous faraglioni, this was an absolute breeze.

Cliffs of Tropea

The main public beach is right next to the stunning Monastery of Santa Maria dell’Isola, which is believed to date from the 4th century AD. You can walk up to the Monastery for a fabulous view of the beach below but they are quite strict about what you wear, even though you’re not entering the Monastery so don’t venture up from the beach in just your costume or you’ll be turned away.

Monastery of Santa Maria dell'Isola

As we had a scooter, we ventured a bit further out to Capo Vaticano (around a 15 minute drive) and also Ricardi where we discovered a wonderful little restaurant right on the beach called Da Barbone, which means ‘the beard’ and I can only surmise that it’s named after the owner who looked like a fisherman and had a massive beard! The setting was gorgeous and the food, wonderful. If you go to Tropea, definitely try to venture out a bit further.

Da Barbone Ricardi

We loved our five night stay in Tropea and had a wonderful time. We will certainly be back! But for now… next stop is Ischia and Capri.

19 Comments

  1. July 8, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    Wow! What a lovely place. We love discovering off the beaten trail places and this one looks like a jewel!! I’m forwarding it to a travel friend who will love it, too. The food looks amazing as well!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 1:56 pm

      Thanks Natalie, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for passing on to your friend too 🙂

  2. July 8, 2016 / 1:49 pm

    This looks like a cool place to visit. The Monastery of Santa Maria dell ’Isola looks amazing, perched above the beach on that cliff. I would love to explore this part of Italy.

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 1:57 pm

      It’s really beautiful, Amanda and not too touristy either

  3. July 8, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    Wow Tropea looks beautiful! I also have an aversion to onion, but I think I’d have to bring someone who didn’t so I could make them get onion ice cream lol!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 2:02 pm

      Ha ha ha Jessica! I’m nowhere near as bad as my husband but there’s no way I’d try onion ice-cream!

  4. July 8, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    I live in Rome and Calabria is on my bucket list (but there is so much to see and do around here!!) Now I know why I must go to Tropea 🙂

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 2:03 pm

      Oh wow, you are so much closer than us so no excuse 🙂 We need to explore more of Calabria too. Next for us in a couple of weeks is Ischia and Capri!

  5. July 8, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    What a great article! Have been to Italy several times, but, not here. Awesome photos~

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 3:50 pm

      Thanks Noreen, like you we have seen lots of Italy but had never visited Calabria. I highly recommend it!

  6. July 8, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    Looks like you had so much fun on your trip. I’d love to visit Tropea someday in my life. Have pinned your post!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 8, 2016 / 3:50 pm

      We had lots of fun, Ana, and thanks so much for pinning my post!

  7. July 9, 2016 / 3:22 am

    Tropea sounds wonderful, and the view from your rental is gorgeous! Great find! I love the idea of a town dedicated to an onion, everywhere needs something right?!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 9, 2016 / 10:30 am

      So true, Emily! So funny thought that it was an onion and my husband hates them. And they were on sale everywhere!

  8. July 9, 2016 / 11:06 pm

    Hi, we should connect. Sounds like you’re a big Italy lover too. Italy has so many great beaches, I agree. I love the beach scene in Italy. And that walk you mention on Capri is so beautiful, I love it!

    I connected to your site from the Friday share on The Aspiring Travel Writer. My post on there is about Italy too, about where to eat in Lecce. Have you been to Puglia? I just got back from there. You might enjoy the arcticle: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/where-to-eat-in-puglias-beautiful-baroque-city_us_577c4f4de4b0746f564897f2

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 11, 2016 / 5:06 am

      Hi Chandi, we have been to Puglia but only to Gallipoli, not Lecce. I’ll have a look at your post!

  9. July 9, 2016 / 11:46 pm

    I’d love to try onion ice cream, how interesting! It looks like a beautiful town as well, great pictures.

    • Kirsty Marrins
      July 10, 2016 / 9:16 am

      Thanks Cristal! If you do ever go and taste the onion ice-cream, let me know what you think 🙂

  10. July 11, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    I’ve never heard of Tropea but it looks lovely! Those must be some really good onions, but onion ice cream? No thank you.

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