A Tropea Paradise!

Daily Mail (London), November 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

A Tropea Paradise!


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION Where was the stunning video for the Il Divo song Mama recorded? THE funeral procession shown in the video for Mama was filmed in and around the town of Tropea, in Calabria, in southern Italy (near the tip of the boot).

This beautiful town, one of the prettiest in the region, is famous for its precarious position on top of an imposing cliff rising up immediately behind the golden sands of Tropea's beaches. The way the houses cling precariously to the cliff is striking.

Evidence of colonisation of Tropea dates from the Paleolithic period, but it was first settled by the ancient Greeks, who gave the town its name. Its cobbled streets, lined with old buildings, lead to charming piazzas, and at various points you find yourself gazing down at the sea below.

On a clear day, you can see the Aeolian islands, including the active volcano Stromboli. When the volcano is active a boat trip after dark is a must.

Despite regular earthquakes, most of the old town buildings are intact. The most celebrated building is Tropea's Norman cathedral or duomo, built in the 12th century on the site of an ancient Greek place of worship. Above the main altar is the icon of the Blessed Virgin Our Lady of Romania, the patron saint of Tropea.

Every year on September 9, the icon is taken in procession around the town. Two World War II bombs hang outside the duomo which, the Tropeans believe, did not explode thanks to the protection of the Blessed Virgin.

The most striking building in Tropea is the Gothic church of Santa Maria della Isola. Built in medieval times, it was repaired and reconstructed after earthquakes of 1783 and 1905. It sits on its own cliff, separate from the town and dominating the beaches either side.

Caroline Oldbury, Shawbury, Shropshire.

QUESTION Did Native Americans cultivate peanuts or was this product introduced from another part of the world? THE peanut is indigenous to South America. The oldest specimen was found in Peru and dates back 7,000 to 8,000 years. The origin of cultivation is probably in the western Amazon basin, in the region of southern Bolivia and northern Argentina. Peanuts were certainly cultivated in southern Bolivia from 800BC. Cultivation spread into Central America where it was encountered by 15th-century Spanish explorers. Vendors in Mexico called it the tlalcacahuatl, which the Spanish translated as cacahuate. In Mexican Spanish the peanut is still called cacahuate (in French it is cacahuete).

In the 1530s, the peanut travelled to India and Macao with the Portuguese, and to the Philippines with the Spanish. From these places traders then introduced peanuts into China, where it was seen as a crop which could help the nation cope with the burden of famine. Today China is the biggest peanut producer in the world.

Peanuts were introduced to Africa by the Portuguese. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese established enclaves on the Africa coast to re-supply their fleets headed for the spice trade in Asia. …

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