Tropea sits perched precariously on the cliffs of the northern
side of the knuckle of the big toe of Italy's boot. It is divided
by an ancient, steep arroyo, or lava path, that is now home to
a lot of very nimble goats. Centuries ago, it was an ideal place
to build a city as it was equally inaccessible by land, because of
the steep cliffs behind it, and by sea, because of the sheer cliffs
on the side facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was defensible.
Today, because of its wonderful beaches, friendly people, and its
proximity to all of Calabria, the Iolie Islands, and Sicily, Tropea
is a magnet for tourists, Germans in particular. It was very strange
for this native American to have to speak German to native Italians.
But, aside from newer developments, like Rocco de Nettuno
The Rock of Neptune), the hotel complex where we stayed, little has
changed over the centuries in this town. These pictures are from
several different days in late November, 2003. We hiked the town
from top to bottom (a bit of a feat in itself) and explored everything.
Italians build cities on sheer cliffs. How? I have no idea. But,
there are examples throughout Calabria.
There are no rats in Tropea. There are cats. Lots of them. That is
why you will see walls topped in broken glass everywhere. These are
designed to keep stray cats out.
The weather, at least in late November, is wild and fickle. Sunshine
one minute, and a cloudburst the next. Howling winds off the water,
then calm serenity. Planning for a day of hiking included a change
of clothes in a backpack.
The locals don't speak English. But most of them speak German.
Outside Tropea, it's the other way around.
Steep is everywhere. From the sheer drop to the water in front, to
the approach roads behind, the terrain is steep. And stunning.
Welcome to Tropea, Italy.
Jim Girard, November, 2003 firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: The thin green line in the first picture is where we drove