Tropea – Calabria’s chic coastal secret

When you’re looking for a chic coastal Italian getaway, you’re first thought might be to head to the sun-bathed beaches of Campania, the region famously home to the Amalfi Coast, and the picturesque islands of Capri and Ischia. But why not try something different, and hop across to the southwestern region of Calabria, which boasts equally stunning views of natural beauty, and cultural attractions to explore. The ancient cobblestoned town of Tropea, situated on the edge of the dramatic cliff (providing it with an enviable vista over the Tyrrhenian Sea, especially at sunset!) is a particularly stunning location to base yourself for your Calabrian adventure. 

Why not set up camp at La Dolce Vita, a palatial cream coloured palazzo uniquely decorated with quirky 1950s influences. From here you can enjoy the breath-taking views of the sapphire seas and sandy beaches (and even the Aeolian Islands in the distance on a clear day) on their spacious and chic terrace, or head out into the town to enjoy some of the fascinating landmarks that are just a stone’s throw away. 

For example, culture vultures are bound to be amazed by the opportunity to visit the Santa Maria dell’Isola, a medieval monastic church that was once located on its own small island. The church is now connected to the mainland by a naturally formed silt causeway, and can be reached by climbing a winding flight of steps carved into the cliff face – giving you a chance to work off the all seafood you’ve been enjoying (swordfish in particular is a speciality of this part of “The Coast of the Gods.) Once you’ve scaled the cliff, you can either admire the renowned 12th Century Byzantine portrait of the Virgin Mary, explore the church’s museum for an injection of history, or put your photography skills to the test by taking advantage of this unique photo opportunity! 

Tropea, Calabria

If you fancy heading a bit further afield, why not venture outside of the city walls for a walk amidst the surrounding and fragrant citrus groves and vineyards, or even hop aboard a boat for a cruise out to the distant islands? Whilst geographically closer to Sicily than mainland Italy, there are in fact many one-day excursions from Tropea to the volcanic Aeolian Islands, which are named after the demi-god of the winds Aeolus (from classical mythology) and are considered some of the most beautiful islands on the Mediterranean. 

Geographers may be particularly interested in heading to Vulcano, the small volcanic island famous for its smoking craters, sulphurous fumes, therapeutic mud baths and hot springs, whereas historians may prefer to hop over to Lipari. The largest of the Aeolians (and often most popular) the island of Lipari boasts a main town of the same name, which is bursting with antiquarian architecture for you to explore. Start off at the Citadel, which was constructed after the infamous pirate Barbarossa rampaged the island in 1544, and then head to the Cattedrale San Bartolomeo to admire it’s 17th Century Baroque architecture. After a full day of exploring, you can head back across the greeny-blues seas to your mainland oasis in Tropea, for a tasty pizza, gelato, and finally a glass of wine on the terrace of La Dolce Vita, where you may catch a glimpse of the islands you have been exploring all day in the distance. 

Tropea, Calabria

Tropea, Calabria

Aeolian Islands, Sicily