Spotlight on: Gallipoli, “Pearl of the Ionian”

GallipoliGallipoli, which means “beautiful city” in Greek, lies on Ionian Sea on the western coast of Puglia’s Salentine peninsula.

Historically Gallipoli was frequently under siege so it is almost completely surrounded by defensive walls. Over the centuries Gallipoli was ruled by the Romans, Aragonese and Bourbons until 1860 when it was liberated by a group of Garibaldians.

The city is divided into two zones: the “Old Town” and the “New Town”. The “New Town” is divided by Corso Roma into two sections called Sirocco and Tramontana and this is where we will find more modern buildings and tourist services.

The “Old Town” is on a tiny island which is connected by a 17th century bridge to the mainland. With its labyrinth of narrow streets and churches, palazzi and structures, Gallipoli’s history and mix of different influences and cultures is apparent. Strolling through the old town, it’s impossible not to be distracted by charming alleys and courtyards that greet you at every turn.

Extending out into the sea, the impressive and majestic Castle remains a focal point of Gallipoli as does the Cathedral of Gallipoli in town center. Built in honor of Saint Agata in 1629, it has a lovely facade and beautiful Baroque interior.

Once a wealthy port town, Gallipoli has two ports with the fishing port being the oldest.  Renowned for its fresh seafood and fish, if you get there in the morning you can visit the seafood market, a highlight of a visit here.  Chat with local fishermen, taste raw shrimps, sea urchins, shellfish and local oysters, and then head to a local cafe!

It isn’t hard to find tempting local specialties along the sea-front promenade. Take time to enjoy and savor them along with the breathtaking views of the crystal blue waters. Does it get any better than this?

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