Tropea, famous for its cipolla rossa the much-publicized red onions that are sweet and mild enough to be turned into marmalade. You will even find that some gelateria’s turn it into ice cream that surprisingly tastes delightful! The tiny town is nestled in the most southern part of the Italian mainland located in the province of Vibo Valentina. Duly noted, the undeveloped Calabria is not for everyone and we spent years debating on whether we should explore the region. We have only scraped the surface of it all, but after a little research, I think the places to visit are Tropea, Scilla and Pizzo. Tropea is a bustling seaside town with an impressive coastline that is refered to as the Costa degli Dei or the ‘Coast of the Gods’.
Much like other old towns of Italy, the historic center is a collection of maze-like lanes and tiny piazzas, making it a cozy and idyllic place to stay for a few days. As mentioned in my last post, this is the first time my husband and I discovered Calabria even thought we have been in Apulia numerous times. Tropea is perched high on a dramatic cliff with the white sandy beaches down at its feet, where you can encounter breathtaking sunsets and views to the crystal clear turquoise Tyrrhenian sea.
As we strolled along Corso Vittorio Emmanuale that is the main street, you are greeted with dozens of gelaterias, restaurants and small shops that give the town the right amount of life. Again, we visited in October when it was still beautifully hot but less crowded making the strolls far more pleasant. We walked down tiny streets that opened up to delicious restaurants, took a stroll through the daily market and watched locals arm-in-arm spend slow afternoons exploring as we did. As the region is famous for onions and hot peppers, there were lots of cute food and wine shops that sold spices and onion related treats. We bought different types of peperoncino and spicy tapenade to take back home with us.
With cappuccino at hand and loafers at feet, we relax over breakfast nestled high on the terrace of our hotel overlooking the narrow lanes. Steeped with history and tradition we explored the photogenic streets that aligned with palaces, churches and artisanal workshops. With that classic white fiat in the corner of the alley and cats resting in the middle of the paths, Tropea has that certain ‘La Dolce Vita’ lifestyle where life is taken at a leisurely pace. With the peppers hanging outside in the sun and locals leaning on the side of the walls, everyone seemed to enjoy relaxed long lunches and long siestas on the beach. Evenings were consumed with more food in large families and laid back strolls along the main road that all gathered for a sweet dessert and drink in the later hours as the church clock struck midnight.