The best way to visit Gallipoli‘s historic center? To get lost! Gallipoli is the only example of an island enclosed by walls on four sides. And the island of Sant’Andrea, which is ahead of the sea and now dominated by the lighthouse, was the sentry from the outpost to the city.
Gallipoli, a spiral that emerges from the sea
While the island welcoming the ancient village, connected to the mainland by a bridge, has the shape of a spiral that emerges from the sea and encloses narrow and twisted lanes that today slow the path and the fury of the winds and once used to confuse and trap the enemies.
We, who have been to Gallipoli several times and have already told the monumental part of churches, palaces and castle, on this occasion we wanted to lose ourselves in the picturesque intricate of white houses, small courtyards and intersecting narrow streets.
Remaining fascinated by court houses, but also by stairs and ladders climbing the walls reaching altane and terraces overlooking the sea. Strolling through the narrow and paved streets you come across arches, windows, rich portals and “mignani”, a legacy of the Roman lodges from which to spice life on the street without being seen. Everywhere “sings” the baroque, with wrought iron balconies, carved facade stones and embroideries of elegant portals.
The gaze is captured by the imposing balconies, often supported by crowds of statues such as that of the palace of the Taiano family, which also boasts an ornate portal.
And they are not indifferent to the beautiful access ramp to the former oratory of the Immaculate, built in 1732 on Sant’Angelo Street and rich in many sculptures, paintings and friezes.
If they are open, enter the gates of the ancient palaces that sometimes conceal real surprises! It is the case of Palazzo Balsamo on the main street that cuts in two the old village of Gallipoli. Here, at number 56 of Via Antonietta de Pace, inside the courtyard of the palace, is the Nugae jewelry shop, where the two smiling sisters Vittoria and Giulia will welcome you, displaying their fairy and delightful space in which they collect and propose everything what they like. “Trust the baskets, they will make you light”: this is their motto, in our opinion a philosophy from which to be conquered.
In the harmonious play of houses emerge the churches, beginning with the cathedral dedicated to San’Agata, the chiseled façade in the yellow tuff of Lecce and the magnificent baroque interior.
Leaving the main street and strolling along the scenic seafront road leading to the ancient city with stone ramparts, there are many churches that meet and directly overlook the blue.
Among the most beautiful is the Church of Purity, sixteenth century, with its white façade animated by majolica tiles.
Are the walks hungry for you? Gallipoli is a fishing town and never fails if you eat fish. The freshly caught and often still alive in the tanks you find it down to the port by the fishery La lampara (via Mercato Ittico, tel. +39 0833 261936 – +39 338 1108667), which for four generations is dealing with fish sales service lastly, it also offers the preparation of excellent aperitifs based on fresh seafood and delicious fish-based dishes.
We did not know how to withstand a large, red-faced redfish, prepared so that it was a delight to the eyes and not just for the palate! Can you then say no to the seafood that they look everywhere? Mussels, true clams, oysters, white and real nuts, along with purple shrimp and shrimp have completed our luncheon with a fresh, light white wine.
Fresh and top quality fish is the business card of Antonello Corciulo’s La Grotta Marinara restaurant (via Cesare Battisti 13, tel. +39 0833 264030 – +39 340 2807746 – firstname.lastname@example.org) in the historic center of Gallipoli. Built in the splendid structure of an ancient Frantoio Ipogeo, the trattoria offers seafood and fish dishes, whose freshness is exalted by traditional but also innovative and refined preparations. Do not miss the fried of paranza and the octopus, but also the delicate paltamite meatballs, the fried mackerel served with red onion and octopus meatballs.
At this point, you are ready, with your full belly, to lose yourself in the winding alleyways of the village, guiding you from the scent of the sea to find the way.