The pearl of the Tirrenian sea: Tropea


Driving from Sicily all the way to Torino, where I live, is quite a long journey, thus I didn’t wat to cover such a distance in just one day. I planned 3 overnights along the way: in Tropea, Amalfi and San Gimignano. Therefore after crossing the Strait of Messina it took me just a 2 hours drive to get to my first stop.

Tropea is a small village along the Tirrenian coast of Calabria which is probably one of the least known regions of the Country. If Italy is commonly referred to as “the boot” (lo Stivale), Calabria is the foot. It’s quite a big region with 2 coastlines: the first overlooks the Ionian Sea and the second the Tirrenian, both included in the wider context of the Mediterranean sea.

Tropea is located along the Tirrenian coast on a rocky spur which overlooks the whole Gulf of St. Euphemia and the bluest sea. On clear days, like the one I have been so lucky to experience, you can see also the island of Stromboli, in a distance, one of the Eolian Islands which are part of Sicily. For such reason, Tropea is commonly referred to as “the pearl of the Tirrenian sea”

I choose a nice bed and breakfast just out of the village, some 10 minutes by car. Once there we asked the guy at the reception for a good place to go and spend a couple of hours at the beach and he recommended us to try the “Michelino” beach. The place is located out of Tropea, reachable only via a stoned stair made of some 200 steps. It’s a pretty small public beach with some rocks in the water which make it even nicer to bath as the waves breake against them in a safe way, thus the water if so clear and clean that we stayed longer than expected.

Caletta Michelino, Tropea. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The sun was setting when we finally entered the village. We managed to see some of the highlights such as the so called Castle (or “the island”) which is a building standing alone over a rock, connected to the mainland by a thing stripe of land.

The Castle, Tropea. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

There is a panoramic terrace at the end of the main street, in the middle of the old town, thus we enjoyed the sundown here, until it disappeared behind the horizon, illuminating the sky with an incredible shade of orange.

Sunset in Tropea. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

We roamed around a bit along the very narrow alleys of the old town, all of which are home to small restaurants and travel agencies (many tourist here also book day excursions to the Eolian Islands, especially to Stromboli which is not far).

Backstreets of Trope. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Just before sitting at our table for dinner, we bumped into the Cathedral which shows an architecture mixing romanesque, gothinc and arab-norman reminescences. It was closed already thus we couldn’t see the inside, but the illumination of the windows was nice to watch:

The Cathedral of Tropea. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

However, what Tropea is very famous for is not its historic and artistic heritage, which is pretty good, but a local products that is considered to be the best of its kind: the Onion of Tropea. If you are a souvenir person be aware that together with the usual items you find at souvenir shops such as magnet, mugs et cetera… in Tropea you will also find tons of red onions at every shop.

Red Onion of Tropea. Photo from the web

The red onion of Tropea is not a common, regular onion but a unique local product which tastes different from others you have tried in your life. First of all the onion of Tropea is sweet and best when un cooked, especially sliced in your salad. All restaurants of the city have the Tropean Salad in the menu which is simply made with sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, oreganon, salt and abundant olive oil. Another use of it which is pretty common is the one of making onion jam. The procedure is the same as for making fruit jams, thus not complicated at all. The perfect use is to pair it with cheese… try it and let me know!!!!

Second of all, there is a limited production of these onions, thus to avod any incovenience, before buying them at a grocery store near youm plan a vist to Tropea, check what its taste actually is like and watch its color, thus once back you can recognize it easily.

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