Tropea is a municipality located in the province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria, which is in the southern region of Italy. The town is a famous bathing place and is situated on a reef, in the gulf of St. Euphemia. Tropea is connected with the mainland by a narrow strip in the Tyrrhenian Sea, toward the south is Vibo Valentia and north is Ricadi and Capo Vaticano. Tropea begins in Roman times, when along its coast Sextus Pompey defeated Octavius. In the south of Tropea, the Romans built a commercial port, in the locality of Formicoli.
The legend says that it was Hercules who, returning from Spain, stood on the Coast of Gods and made Tropea one of his ports. Because of its peculiar position as terrace on the sea, Tropea played an important role during Roman, Noeman and Aragonese times. In the surrounding areas, there have been tombs found dating back to the Magna Graecia period.
The main sights to see in Tropea are the Franciscan monastery, Monastery of Santa Maria dell’Isola, 12th century Norman cathedral and Tropea Castle. One of the four towers of the castle was actually damaged, and the entire castle was finally destroyed by Carlo Toraldo with explosives. Some famous people from here are Pasquale Galluppi, a philosopher, and Raf Vallone, an actor. Many villages around Tropea produce a particular quality of red onion. In Italy these onions are so famous that cipolla di Tropea has become an Italian synonym for all red onions. One of the gelaterias in town, Tonino in the Corso, even makes a red onion ice cream as well as others based on squid ink and nduja, the local spicy salami.
In the Norman cathedral of Tropea, there is a picture of Virgin Mary of Romania, of Byzantine origin. The legend says that a boat came from the East Byzantine Empire was driven into the port of Tropea by a storm. After repairing the damages, the captain tried to leave, but the ship still stayed in the harbor. That same night, the Bishop of the city, Ambrogio Cordova, dreamed of the Virgin Mary asking him to stay in Tropea and becoming its Protectress.
The dream repeated itself for several nights until, the bishop summoned the senior officials and the citizens, and together they went to the port to take the picture of the Virgin Mary. As soon as the painting was brought to shore, the ship departed. The Virgin Mary promised to defend the city from pestilence, earthquakes, and war. Many of the events that took place since then seem to attest to this belief.
According to tradition the Virgin Mary appeared several times in dreams to the Bishop, warning him of an earthquake that would devastate Calabria. On day the Bishop established a penitential procession, involving all the people from Tropea. Thanks to the procession, the earthquake which struck that very day caused no harm.
The citizens of Tropea were also saved from the Calabrian earthquakes that affected the whole of Calabria, these being much stronger and more tragic than the previous earthquake. This event strengthen the devotion to the Virgin Mary of Romania, and the citizens of Tropea proclamed her the patron of Tropea. During the World War, Tropea suffered a bombing but the six bombs which fell on Tropea all went into a hole and remained unexploded.
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