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11 things to do in Tropea for international students

Are you wondering what you shouldn’t miss while learning Italian at our school during your summer holiday in Tropea? Then, read our 5 minutes article to discover our 11 must do’s tips, and enjoy your vacation at the fullest!


11 Things to Do in Tropea while Learning Italian

1. Start your day with a delicious Italian breakfast

In small towns like Tropea, the bar is the perfect meeting place, and, for foreign students, it is often the first real place of interaction outside the school. So what would be better than starting your day sitting outside, watching the hustle and bustle of passers-by, and ordering a good croissant with coffee or cappuccino? In summer, then, try at least once the brioche with ice cream or granita, a tradition imported from the nearby Sicily!

2. Explore the old town

The main and most characteristic part of Tropea is a beautiful medieval village on a cliff facing the sea. The ancient facades of noble residences follow one another along the narrow streets of the town. Often the portals of the palaces hide hallways and gardens, but it is worth getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town, at different times of the day, to watch how the light changes gradually giving the buildings that particular straw yellow, known as Tropea yellow, that you will be happy to capture in your photographs, along with sleeping cats, clothes lying in the sun, tables outside the bars. Authentic and picturesque corners representing the quintessence of the Italian style. To explore better Tropea, don’t miss the one-hour guided tour that the Piccola Università Italiana offers you every Tuesday afternoon!

3. Visit the cathedral

There are many churches in Tropea, but the Norman Cathedral will take your breath away. Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, our Virgin Mary of Romania, it houses her icon. According to the tale, around the 8th century, the icon was found in the sea or perhaps stolen from a Byzantine boat, by Tropea sailors. The “Romania” refers to the Eastern Roman Empire. When the ship of these sailors docked in Tropea, the bishop of the city dreamt the Virgin Mary of Romania for 3 consecutive nights. It seems that she asked him to go to the port to retrieve her painting and place it in the cathedral of the city. And so it happened. The inhabitants of Tropea are very grateful to the Virgin Mary of Romania because they believe she repeatedly protected them from devastating earthquakes, epidemics, and enemy attacks. The Virgin Mary of Romania’s holiday is celebrated every year on September 9.

4. Discover the origins of the city in the Diocesan Museum

The cathedral forms a single urban complex with the old episcopal palace, now the seat of the Diocesan Museum, which can be considered the historical-artistic guardian of the city. On the ground floor, you can see archaeological finds documenting the millenary life of Tropea, from prehistory to the first Christianization, through the various dominations: Romans, Saracens, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese, and Bourbons. Ancient art enthusiasts will instead find on the upper floor the picture gallery, which houses many examples of the iconography of the Virgin, the baroque canvases of the Cathedral, and other remarkable paintings of ecclesiastical commission, beyond the rooms of the sacred vestments, with precious eighteenth-century fabrics perfectly preserved.

5. Visit the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola

You absolutely must go to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola. With the word isola (island) we mean the rock in front of the cliff on which the city stands. During the past centuries, this rock was completely surrounded by the sea. The sanctuary is dedicated to the cult of the Virgin Mary and the statues on the altar depict the Holy Family, which is carried into the sea every year on August 15th in a procession of boats. To visit, once up there, also the small museum and the garden behind the Sanctuary, in the summer months open until 11.30 pm, which will allow you to observe the village of Tropea from above without having to operate a drone!

6. Watch the sunset over the sea

Tropea is located on the Tyrrhenian Sea, the part of the Mediterranean that extends west of the Italian peninsula. Every evening, at sunset, you can admire the sun setting into the water. You can watch it from the beach, maybe while sipping an aperitif surrounded by nature (in this case, pay attention to the side effects because you might get into a sort of romantic ecstasy and fall in love with whoever passes by, even a seagull!). Climb the stairs back to the center, and let yourself be enchanted by another breathtaking view: the panoramic terraces will allow you to catch in your Instagram selfies the famous Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of the Island and even the shapes of the nearby Aeolian Islands, especially Stromboli, which, as a good volcano, may also blow smoke rings! The best spots are Piazzetta Cannone, near Porta Vaticana, and the view at the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Our views will surprise you at any time, but in the evening, when the horizon becomes pink, the panorama is truly priceless!

7. Try all the beaches

Go down to the beach and have a swim in our paradise! Turquoise waters and a fairytale setting of wild cliffs and small bays accessible only by sea, but also long stretches of fine white sand are waiting for you! The beaches of Tropea are all worth seeing because from every point you can enjoy unique and different views. In the north, in La Grazia, a small locality bordering the enchanting coves of Parghelia, you can find the quietest and most family-friendly beach, and also the small beach of Cannone, hidden between the marina and the rock of San Leonardo. You will then find the free beaches of the Rotonda and Mare Piccolo. In the South of the island, there is A’ Linguata (a strip of land in the shape of a tongue), which ends in a cave that bears the same name. From there, skirting the islet, you can reach, even swimming, the Grotta del Palombaro, not visible from the shore, but really remarkable. Continuing southwards you can enjoy the equipped beaches of Mare Grande and il Convento. You will find here the lido Alex, affiliated with our school: you can, therefore, ask for a free umbrella and sunbed!

8. Play sports in the sea and… in Italian!

One of the most effective ways to learn the language is to combine it with the practice of our own passion. For example: do you like gardening? Buy a gardening manual in Italian! Here in Tropea maybe it’s easier to find a beach volleyball tournament, but you’ll still have the chance to discover the territory all-round doing different sports. Thanks to a series of specialized centers, you can attend courses of sailing, catamaran, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, or water aerobics. Take advantage of the fact that you may have an Italian instructor! In short, in addition to having fun and keeping fit, you also risk expanding your vocabulary!

9. Go on a boat trip or a cruise to the Aeolian Islands

The sea can offer you much more than just a nice tan. Put a towel and sunscreen in your bag and get on board a boat. Every week you could admire amazing landscapes thanks to our boat trip! From Tropea, you descend southwards to the promontory of Capo Vaticano, with the opportunity to swim offshore and fill your eyes with a thousand shades of blue. If you love the wind on your skin, we can take you on a sailing boat even further afield to Scilla and let you visit Chianalea, a beautiful fishing village in the province of Reggio Calabria. When the sea is calm you could also take advantage of taking a ferry to the Aeolian Islands. With a day cruise you can visit up to 3 islands, while with a mini-cruise, you’ll see just 2 islands. Moreover, thanks to the Stromboli by night formula, at nightfall, you may have the chance to observe the activity of this volcano during your mini-cruise trip!

10. Do things you probably would never do at home

Rent a Ducati and experience the thrill of riding on the Calabrian hairpin bends or rent a legendary Vespa to explore the surroundings. We’ve already surprised several unsuspected couples of our students by venturing out with helmets under their hands showing in their faces the happy expression of those who are enjoying all the essence of the Italian Dolce Vita! Be a little bit crazy: go on mountain-bike excursions (never under the summer sun, though!) or get on board of our bus in Palmi, to have a beautiful horseback ride on the beach. Then, if the sea and the mainland are not enough for you, you can seize the opportunity to observe the coast from above, i.e. in flight, with a two-seater paraglider! Too extreme? All right, then we will offer you a nice watercolor painting course. Then, you will comfortably sit in one of our classrooms!

11. Go shopping in downtown and discover the local handicrafts

It’s amazing to go shopping in Italy, especially when it comes to clothing! In Tropea, you won’t find chains or shopping malls, but boutiques and independent shops of all kinds: from big fashion brands to more particular kinds of ethnic and bohemian clothing, artistic fabrics, and, of course, beachwear and accessories. There is no shortage of souvenirs to bring to your friends and relatives. And above all, you’ll find many shops where you can stock up on handmade products, buy gastronomic specialties such as our red onion jam or spicy ‘nduja, but also Calabrian ceramics, small animated cribs or even jewelry! You will be amazed by the shops selling coral! The coral, unfortunately, or fortunately, has been collected for centuries in the rich depths of Tropea and Capo Vaticano, and traditionally exported to Campania for processing. Traces of this intense trade remain in one of the districts of the city, called U’ Curalluni (the Coral), which roughly corresponds to the buildings at the beginning of Via Libertà, overlooking the sea and built by fishermen with the proceeds from the sale of coral. After our shopping tips, you will return home with a renewed and very personal style: everybody will directly understand that you have been on holiday in Italy!

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