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Gallipoli, Apulia

Gallipoli (Greek: Kallipolis (Καλλίπολις), meaning “Beautiful City”) is a southern Italian town and comune in the province of Lecce,

in Apulia. In 2014, it had a population of 31,862 History : According to a legend, the city was founded in ancient times by Idomeneus of Crete. Pliny the Elder attributes the foundation to the Senones Gauls, while more likely it was a Messapic settlement. Historically, what is known is that Gallipoli was a city of the Greater Greece, ruling over a large territory including today’s Porto Cesareo. In 265 BC it sided with Pyrrhus and Taranto against ancient Rome, suffering a defeat which relegated it to a Roman colony (later a municipium).

In the early Middle Ages, it was most likely sacked by the Vandals and the Goths. Rebuilt by the Byzantines, Gallipoli lived an economically and socially flourishing period due to its geographical position. Later it was owned by the Roman Popes, and was a centre of fighting against the Greek monastic orders.

In the 11th century Gallipoli was conquered by the Normans and, in 1268, it was besieged by Charles I of Anjou, causing numerous inhabitants to flee to the nearby Alezio. The city was repopulated around 1300, under the feudal rule of the principality of Taranto. In 1484 the Venetians tried to occupy it, but without results. King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies started the construction of the port, which in the 18th century became the largest olive oil market in the Mediterranean. After the unification of Italy (1861), Gallipoli was capital of a circondario, together with Lecce and Taranto.

Highlights :

  • Old city, The island of the historic centre is characterized by the present of various churches, all of them built in Baroque style. The narrow alleys are surrounded by enchanting white and cream-colored houses, that make this zone similar to a Greek or Arab old city.
  • Cathedral (Basilica di Sant’Agata), Via Duomo. Imposing Baroque church completed in 1696, with the facade in Lecce stone and the Latin cross plan interior rich of statues and paintings. It has been declared Italian national monument in 1940. Free entry.
  • Santa Maria della Purita, Riviera Nazario Sauro . Baroque church built in 1665 overlooking the Seno della Purita (Cove of the Purity). The sober facade hides a single nave interior rich of paintings, one by Luca Giordano. Free entry.
  • San Francesco d’Assisi, Riviera Nazario Sauro. Ancient medieval church of the 13th century, completely renovated in the 18th century in baroque architectural style. The two aisles contains ten richly decorated altars. Free entry.
  • Angevin-Aragonese Castle (Castello angioino-aragonese), Riviera Armando Diaz. 10:00-00:00. A wooden drawbridge permits the entry to this imposing defensive structure of the 11th century, rebuilt and restored several times. It is border by the sea on three sides, while the semi-circular bastion, overlooking the modern centre, is completely surrounded by the waters of the Seno del Canneto (Cove of the Cane field).
  • Santissimo Crocifisso, Riviera Nazario Sauro, 133 (corner of Vicolo Croce). Sanctuary erected in 1750 along the promenade. The exterior is quite simple and sober, while the single nave interior is almost totally white and is a true triumph of baroque decorations and stuccoes. Free entry.
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli, Riviera Nazario Sauro (corner of Via Angeli)  . A dazzling white facade enriched by a pediment in limestone. Inside it is possible to admire a majestic harmonium of the 18th century. Free entry.
  • San Francesco di Paola, Riviera Cristoforo Colombo (corner of Via Roncella) . Sober white exterior and a decorated interior rich of floral designs. Free entry
  • Museums
  • Diocesan Museum (Museo Diocesano), Via Antonietta De Pace, 51, Tu-Th 09:30-13:30, F-Su 16:00-20:00. €3 full €1.5 EU citizens between 14 and 25 years free for students, under 14, disabled. Diocesan museum of Gallipoli
  • Museo civico Emanuele Barba, Via Antonietta de Pace, 108. Tu, Th, Sa-Su 10:00-13:00/15:30-18:00; W, F 10:00-13:00. €1. Museo Emanuele Barba
  • Marea (Centro di cultura del mare), Riviera Nazario Sauro, 131/A, 10:30-13:30/19:00-23:00. Multimedia museum about the sea and its flora. €7.5 full ,  €6 over 65, 7-13 years, disabled ,  free under 6 years.
  • Greek Fountain (Fontana Greca), Piazza Aldo Moro. The name derives from the presence of caryatids and bas-reliefs depicting the mythological metamorphosis of Dirce, Salmacis, and Byblis.. It had been considered the most ancient fountain of Italy, also if many consider it dating to the Renaissance. The exact dating remains a mystery.
  •  Santa Maria del Canneto, Piazza Aldo Moro. Baroque sanctuary facing the characteristic fishing port of Seno del Canneto. It was built in the late XVII century on the site of a church owned by the Teutonic Order. The interior is preceded by a portico with three round-arches and is decorated various paintings and a XVIII century harmonium. Free entry.

Access : Coordinates: 40.055556, 17.991667 / By plane : Brindisi Airport (BDS IATA known as Aeroporto del Salento), Contrada Baroncino,  +39 0831 411 7406. The airport is located 65 km (40 miles) north of Gallipoli, that can be reached from here trough the efficient bus services or renting a car.

By train : Gallipoli railway station, Via XX Settembre. It is the main station of the town and is served by the trains of Ferrovie del Sud Est (FSE), a local railway company that provides a link to Lecce in about 90 minutes. The station was open in 1885 and is located in the modern centre close to Corso Roma, few minutes by foot from the bridge that leads to the old town By bus : Various private bus companies provides links from cities of Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland to Gallipoli:

Flixbus from 32 destinations in Italy and Europe, like Hannover, Munich, Nuremberg, Pescara, Pompeii, Rimini, Rome, Siena.
Marino Bus from Florence, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Stuttgart, Zurich and many other localities.
Marozzi from Avellino, Bari, Benevento, Rome.
Miccolis from Caserta, Matera, Metaponto, Naples, Pompeii, Potenza, Salerno.
Ouibus from Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Milan, Nice.
Fares can drastically change according to the period and even the day chosen. Info are available on their websites. All coaches stop at the bus station of 3 Piazzale Cimitero, in front of the municipal cemetery.

By car : From Brindisi: take SS 16  to bypass the city, merge onto Strada Statale 613  towards Lecce, here take Tangenziale Ovest and SS 101  to Gallipoli. (1 hr)
From Bari: Bari Nord motorway exit, then take SS 16  until Fasano and SS 379  to reach Brindisi, then follow the route above. (2 hr)
From Taranto: the easiest way is reaching Brindisi heading down SS 7  and following the route above (1½ hr). Another possibility is driving along the Ionian coast crossing some towns, but it usually requires more time.
From Santa Maria di Leuca: drive along SS 274  for 30 minutes.

Activities : Festa di Santa Cristina (Festival of Saint Christina): the most important religious festival in the town, in honor of the town’s patron saint. The event takes place on 23, 24 and 25 July, when the statue of Saint Christina is procession over the sea and Corso Roma is decorated with spectacular and colored illuminations, in addiction to many stalls. This is a really can’t-miss events if you choose to visit Gallipoli during this period.
1 Acquapark Splash!, Litoranea Santa Maria al Bagno (Rivabella locality) +39 0833 273400, e-mail: 10:00-18:30. A large water park with giant slides and many other attractions, 2 km north of the city centre. €12.
2 Teatro Garibaldi (Teatro comunale “Giuseppe Garibaldi”), Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 8 (the alley in front of the Cathedral’s bell tower). The most ancient theatre of Apulia, built in 1825 as Teatro del Giglio, in honor to the House of Bourbon. It is the most elegant one of the city and it’s focused on theatrical exhibitions, conferences with actors and musicians and cinema projections of cultural interest.
3 Cinema Teatro Italia, Corso Roma, 207 (at the foot of the “skyscraper”). Built in 1976 with a capacity of 1550 viewers. It is mainly used as a cinema, but sometimes it hosts theatrical performances.
4 Cinema Teatro Schipa, Corso Roma, 170. 500-seat hall built in 1900 and dedicated to Tito Schipa, one of the greatest leggero tenors of all times. It is mainly focused on cinema projections

Go next : Brindisi / Lecce / Nardo /  Otranto / Santa Maria di Leuca  / Specchia

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