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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.