tropea study italian in calabria (2)

Exploring exotic Tropea: nature, history and food

Tropea is a small town in the province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria, the region that looks like Italy’s “toe”. Why is Tropea a great destination where to learn Italian while on holiday? Let’s find out!

This enchanting seaside resort boasts impressive beaches and a turquoise coastline known as Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods). The scenery is also characterized by the town’s historic center perched on dramatic cliffs. Due to this strategic position as a terrace on the sea, Tropea played an important role during Roman, Norman and Aragonese times.

Tropea is a favorite destination for Italian and foreign tourists looking for a relaxing break on amazing beaches. The beach beside Santa Maria dell’Isola is said to be one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, but there are other fine beaches south at Capo Vaticano and north at Briatico. However, the village and the surrounding territory also offer a number of attractions and activities to be enjoyed at all times of the year.

The 12th-century Norman Cathedral features intriguing Gothic portals outside and various artworks inside. According to one of many myths regarding the Duomo, two bombs were placed at the church’s entrance but never exploded, thanks to the Virgin of Tropea, who also protected the local population during different earthquakes.

Tropea’s most photographed attraction is the Benedictine Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola. Wondering why?

The iconic sanctuary of Tropea - photo by Maria Zangone
The iconic sanctuary of Tropea – photo by Maria Zangone

Perched high on a rocky promontory and accessible only by a winding flight of stone steps cut into the cliff side, it dominates the view over the sea from Piazza Ercole, the main town square. Believed to date back to the 4th century AD, it has been rebuilt many times and took its present form in the 18th century after it was damaged by an earthquake.

The historic center of Tropea features many 17th- and 18th-Century palaces and the Baroque Church of San Demetrio with a chapel from the 1300s.

Wine and food delights in Tropea

Whether you are here during the warm season or the cold season, Tropea’s surroundings allow you to visit inspiring citrus and olive groves, as well as vineyards and wine cellars producing local specialties such as Vino Calabria (white wine with I.G.T. – or Typical Geographical Indication – label).

If you are a foodie, you can indulge yourself with the most famous local product, the Cipolla di Tropea… or Tropea’s Red Onion! Although it has become an Italian synonym for all red onions, the town and surrounding villages produce a particular quality of red onion. Not only can you taste the onion in different traditional recipes, you can also explore “unthinkable” combinations, like red-onion gelato (ice cream) in Tropea’s historic center! Should you be in the area in summer (usually in July or August), then you cannot miss the onion-dedicated festival called “La Sagra della Cipolla Rossa”.

Would you like to explore this beautiful seaside town and the Coast of the Gods while on holiday?

Learn Italian in Tropea! Click here to learn about our language course in Calabria.

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