Joppolo is a small town located along the enchanting Costa degli Dei in the province of Vibo Valentia; it is nestled on a high cliff of tuff rock perched on Monte Poro, close to the underlying coast and a short distance from Tropea, in a splendid position looking to the Gulf of Gioia Tauro.
Numerous sacred buildings can be seen, with spectacular roofs rising between the mountains and the deep blue sea. The shrine dedicated to the Vergine del Carmelo, behind which rises the majestic Monte Poro is a popular destination of pilgrimages.
The typical steep granite slopes of Joppolo which, through winding alleys and houses built one on top of the other, give the landscape an indisputable charm.
The area of Joppolo is rich in greenery with olive groves and flowering gardens and is surrounded by an enchanting coastline of sand and rocks. The hill is covered by a thick vegetation that comprises pines, olive trees, almond trees and prickly pears and in the distance the Aeolian Islands and the island of Sicily can be seen.
The Mulino Siroto (Siroto Mill), two storeys high on a rectangular-shaped floor-plan is worth a visit. The Parish Church, founded in ancient times, preserves in its interior several works of local artists. Torre Parnaso of the sixteenth century, which stands on a small promontory of the coast must also not be missed. Also worth a visit is the "Angioina” tower that rises on a small promontory almost dropping into the sea.
On reaching the top of Monte Poro we find a vast plain, inhabited since the earliest of times. The term poro is of Greek origin and means passage. The plateau is formed by an enormous mass of rock mostly granite, covered by light, easily cultivated soils, composed of materials of volcanic origin from eruptions of Stromboli. The soil is quite fertile also due to the abundance of water sources while the climate is cool and moist; this combination offers very favourable conditions for farming. Visitors are greeted with views of a succession of extensive fields cultivated with wheat, corn and vegetables and a series of farms where the following livestock are reared: cattle, pigs and goats.
The Shrine of the Madonna del Carmelo
Legend has it that a local shepherd, in an attempt to shepherd the flock near Monte Poro, witnessed the Madonna appear before him, asking for a church to be built in her honour. The shepherd dressed with a religious habit and went into the countryside as well as to neighbouring and faraway villages collecting generous offerings he used to build the Shrine of the Madonna del Carmelo di Monte Poro.
The church dedicated to the Madonna that rises in the small town of Monte Poro inside a grove of pine and chestnut trees is the destination of on-going pilgrimages of believers who worship her solemnly on 16 August. The shrine has a single chamber of a medium size with double pitched wooden roof. Inside the shrine the following are noteworthy: a statue of St Francis from the beginning of the twentieth century, a statue of the Madonna of the Neapolitan school dating back to 1894, a canvas which represents the building of the shrine from 1975 and the impressive altar in polychrome marble.
Joppolo's gastronomy is simple and genuine. Notable local specialities include lamb prepared following ancient traditions and cheese, in particular ricotta and the aromatic Pecorino cheese of Monte Poro, fresh and exquisitely matured, which is an artisan cheese made by shepherds.
Honey, figs and almonds are the stars of Joppolo's cuisine. Many recipes are based on the use of these ingredients, including “crocette” (baked figs stuffed with almonds), mustard, prickly-pear “chaiappetta”. Joppolo's typical dishes include fried aubergines (using dried aubergines), pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans), tagliatelle and octopus stew with plenty of fried onion.
Via Santa Maria, Joppolo