Finding an oasis of calm in Tropea and Pizzo - ideal for a long weekend trip to Calabria...
Calabria is an area of Italy which I didn’t know at all before joining the Real Holidays team – but very quickly I realised that it was special and somewhere I had to see for myself to fully appreciate and understand.
A relatively quick flight from Stansted took me to Lamezia Terme – a small, no-frills airport. My destination – Tropea was an hour’s drive away. It was an easy journey, and one that for the majority is a coastal road which is nice in itself.
As you approach Tropea, you can see the old town on the edge of the cliff which is quite the sight! The streets then start to become a little windier and you can see the old buildings up close. Villa Paola is located on the near side of the town from the airport at the end of a side road.
The small church - Chiesa di San Francesco di Paola is located next to Villa Paola. It is definitely worth a look inside and really makes you feel closer to the local community.
You then turn your attention to Villa Paola, a beautiful building painted with a light burgundy shade. The building is actually a renovated old convent dating back to 1543. You enter through the large front door to the inward courtyard which has flowers and lemon trees creating an intimate atmosphere. The reception is more like a friends’ living room, with books of the local area, famous novels - something to suit all interests.
The bedrooms are located in different areas of the property and are divided into Deluxe and Superior room categories – a selection of which have sea-views. All bedrooms are very well sized and are stylishly decorated with a fresh feel to them.
The true romance of the property is in the main garden area. Here, you will find a lovely outside terrace, perfect to enjoy an espresso and breakfast while looking out to the sea. The gardens are all pristinely looked after and are a joy to walk around. One rather unique factor is the flower wall, located towards the back of the garden. A simple feature, yet lovely to look at. Finally, there is also a small pool with space around it for a few sun loungers. The pool overlooks the old town and is a lovely spot to enjoy the views and cool off from the hot summer sun. The beach is only a 10-minute walk away and it can be privately used for guests of Villa Paola. Having the beach and town both within walking distance is a great bonus of the property and allows for a relaxing, yet fulfilling stay. Villa Paola is ideal for a couple looking for a romantic, quiet property in a good location.
Tropea as a town is a pleasure to walk around; the old buildings, small shops and local restaurants all create a lovely atmosphere. As you would hope and expect, most of the restaurants serve fresh, Italian food to suit all tastes and budgets. A particular recommendation is a restaurant called Vecchio Granaio. It is hidden away from the main street so you don’t get the crowds passing by. I sat in the courtyard area which is surrounded by 18th century buildings – the perfect setting to enjoy a glass of wine and pasta with a sauce containing the famous Tropea onions!
The highlight of Tropea for me is when I first saw the Santuario Santa Maria dell'Isola. This is a fairytale-like medieval church perched on top of a rocky cliff right on the coast. You are able to walk up to the church and enjoy the views back towards the old town.
Surrounding the rock, there are two large sandy beaches. Much of these beaches are public, so if you are not staying in a hotel in Tropea you will still be able to enjoy the beach and beautiful, blue waters.
I then moved on to visit Pizzo, which is smaller than Tropea, but still offers an abundance of Italian charm. The main square has restaurants as well as ice cream parlours, selling Tartufo. Tartufo is an ice-cream dessert which originated from Pizzo and is sold all over Calabria. It is usually composed of two or more flavours of ice cream, often with either fruit syrup or frozen fruit in the centre. It is then covered in a shell made of chocolate or cocoa. It really does take you back to your childhood – in a good way!
There is also a beach in Pizzo which can be accessed via steps or road from the main town – very much like in Tropea.
The property which I stayed in was called the Piccolo Grand Hotel. It is a boutique, modern hotel located in a beautiful building in the heart of Pizzo.
There are a number of different room types to suit all needs – including 2 sets of interconnecting rooms and separate apartment style rooms – ideal for a family. There is no pool on site, however there is a small gym.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the stay is the breakfast which is served on the roof terrace, with uninterrupted views across the sea. Not only is the setting exceptional, but the food and service is also first class.
With the benefit of a relatively short flight and proximity to Lamezia Terme – both Tropea and Pizzo are great options for a long weekend getaway to this beautiful, relatively unknown area of Italy.
Call 0207 359 3938 to speak to Hollie about planning your trip to Calabria.