The pearl of Salento
Gallipoli is amazing. It is enough to look at the map to realize the unique location of the city. Unfortunately, the attractive location of the city is also the direct cause of an unusually long and colorful history, countless invasions, battles, passing from hand to hand ... etc.
The story is so long and confusing that ... I don't think I will tell you about it 🙂 (I can already hear some of them sighing loudly and with relief ... phew). I will limit myself to a few curiosities that you will easily remember while visiting Gallipoli and make exploring the city more enjoyable.
Gallipoli is one of the points of the Apulia tour guide and itinerary that I developed you will find here - [click]
A short history in trivia
Currently Gallipoli consists of two clearly separated parts:
- the old town - entirely located on the island
- new city - spills widely on land beyond the island.
Going to Gallipoli, we passed through the new part completely indifferently and went straight to the historic part of the city, to the island.
Gallipoli's roots go back to antiquity and time Great Greece when Gallipoli was part of it. Traces of Greek affiliation can be seen, and actually heard in the city until today. It is hard to imagine, but despite the fact that more than 2500 years have passed, the inhabitants of the city still communicate widely in the dialect of the Greek language, called Greece. Moreover, the Griko dialect and the modern Greek language retain a sound that makes them partially mutually intelligible. People who know one of these languages are able to communicate with each other without knowing a second language.
It will come as no surprise that the name of the city is also derived from Greek, from the term "Callipolis"(Or" Kale Polis "), which means"beautiful city". Gallipoli is sometimes referred to as the Pearl of Salento or the Pearl of the Ionian.
Originally Gallipoli was not an island town because there was no water between it and the mainland. The natural terrain here formed a peninsula. The constant threat of invasions from the Turks meant that Gallipoli artificially cut off from the mainland, creating a wide ditch and fortifications that completely surrounded the city. From the Middle Ages to the XNUMXth century, only a drawbridge existed here. Only city residents had the right to pass through it. It was only in the XNUMXth century that a permanent bridge was built, which (after subsequent reconstructions) is still in use today.
Gold trade in Apulia
What is the gold of Apulia? It is a world-famous, top-quality olive oil. Puglia is the main source of oil in Italy. About 50% of the olive oil production in Italy comes from here. I wrote about olive trees from Apulia in one of the previous entries: Area of monumental olive trees - Apulia.
The oil trade in Gallipoli has a very long tradition, dating back to the Roman rule in the 70nd - XNUMXrd century BC. The transport of oil was one of the reasons for the construction of two roads (Via Sallentina and Via Traiana) connecting the Salentinian peninsula with Rome. At that time, however, the oil trade was still quite calm. The real explosion occurred in the XNUMXth century, when Ferdinand I King of both Sicily built a large port in the city. Gallipoli has at dizzying pace become the largest oil trade point and dominates the trade in this commodity in Europe. On one day, XNUMX (!!!) ships were serviced in the port of Gallipoli. By the end of the XNUMXth century, Gallipoli had become a city of importance to Nepal, Rome, Paris and London, with the port ranked first as Europe's busiest and most important port.
The oil trade has grown to such an extent that in order to be able to handle all commercial traffic, 35 oil mills and around 2000 oil tanks had to be built in the city. A special tax was also introduced for each bushel of oil loaded on the ship (a bushel is about 36 liters), because the transport load was such that all access roads to the city and city walls had to be constantly rebuilt and renovated.
Most major countries in the world (Venice, France, Spain, England, Denmark, the Ottoman Empire, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sweden and Norway, Malta, the Netherlands, the Papal States and the United States) had their consulates in Gallipoli, which operated here until until 1923.
The influence of Gallipoli on the price of oil in the world was such that for some time the official price of oil on the London Stock Exchange was fixed at Gallipoli.
Today Gallipoli lives mainly from tourism. In the historical part of the city, the original medieval street layout has been shaped naturally over the centuries. The shape and course of the streets was mainly shaped by ... the wind. Due to its location, the city naturally struggles with incessant winds from the sea. Thus, houses and streets were built to minimize the unpleasant impact of strong winds on everyday life. The street grid has shapes that help to suppress the wind, and as soon as you enter the city a little deeper, you will immediately notice the difference.
While preparing to write this text, one thing caught my attention. In the town, which is entirely located on a small island (at the widest point the island is about 450m, and at the narrowest 350m) there is 17 churches (which especially in Italy is not surprising) and 18 palaces (!!!). How can there be 18 palaces in such a town? The history of the city, which I wrote about in the previous paragraph, explained a lot to me. The oil trade, the presence of consulates of many countries and the commercial position of the city generated enormous cash flows. Inevitably, great fortunes were created here, and representatives of important trade families in Europe had to have their seats and houses here. A self-respecting rich man could not live and work anywhere. Hence the concentration of palace-class buildings.
Big money likes glamor, and it fits perfectly into the city's architecture. He reigns supreme in Gallipoli baroque architecture in the style of Lecce. It is characterized by exaggerated, extravagant façade decorations, rich in floral and angelic motifs (for more on this, see entry about Lecce - [click]). While strolling around Gallipoli, you will surely come across such buildings whose façades will be dripping with decorations (eg Palazzo Tafuri, Palazzo Romito).
For those interested, I present two links:
- list and descriptions of 17 churches in Gallipoli - [click]
- list and descriptions of 18 palaces in Gallipoli - [click]
Attractions and sightseeing in Gallipoli
It's best to start visiting Gallipoli with a round around the island. A road runs around the perimeter of the island, and a sidewalk next to it. The length of the route around the circumference of the island is about 1,5 km and you will cover it with a leisurely walk in about 30 minutes. On the way, you will see a yacht and fishing port, beaches, several characteristic buildings, defensive walls, towers, a castle, a bridge connecting with the mainland… quite a lot. Then, it is worth going deeper into the streets of the old town (e.g. Via Antonietta de Pace) and feel the atmosphere of Gallipoli's interior. The city is tiny, so don't be afraid to go anywhere you like. You will not get lost.
Below you will find a map with the most important monuments in the city marked. They fit well with the sightseeing scheme I have proposed. The numbers on the map correspond to the numbers next to the descriptions of other attractions further in the text.
Map of Gallipoli
1. Gallipoli Castle
It was established in the thirteenth century by the Byzantine Empire. It was thoroughly rebuilt by the Anjou and Aragonese between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. Then a polygonal defensive wall and round towers were added.
2. Rivellino defensive bastion
The strongly fortified bastion was added at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. Its purpose was to protect the castle from the mainland, repel the siege and protect it from enemy fire from this direction.
The main entrance bridge to the city, built in the 16th century, and then heavily rebuilt. It consists of XNUMX arches and before the reconstruction it had a wooden drawbridge in front of the entrance to the large city gate. The reconstruction carried out in the twentieth century was aimed at adapting it to modern car traffic requirements.
4. Greek Fountain
It is considered to be the oldest fountain in Italy (although its actual age is still uncertain). There is a suspicion that the sculptures on the fountain are only a copy of ancient sculptures made by contemporary masters of art. In the XNUMXth century, this practice was quite fashionable. There is a drinker for animals at the bottom of the fountain.
5. Basilica of Sant'Agata
The basilica is located in the center and at the same time at the highest point of the island, which has probably been considered a holy place since ancient times. It was built in the XNUMXth century on the site of the church that used to stand here. It is worth paying attention to the richly decorated facade, typical of the Baroque architecture in the Lecce style.
6. Palazzo Romito
I chose this palace because of the exceptionally rich decoration of the facade in the Rococo style. It's really worth seeing. Decorations in the form of busts, columns, buttresses and balconies are extremely effective. The palace belonged to a nobleman and historian: Bartholomew Ravenna, whose parents were involved in ... olive oil trade. He was buried in the Basilica of Sant'Agata.
Photos of the facade of Palazzo Romito you can see here - [click]
7. Palazzo Tafuri
This palace, in turn, is the best representative of the Lecce Baroque decorations. Rich in decorations and details, with oval windows and made with an elegant, baroque class.
The beautiful building was commissioned by a wealthy nobleman, a lawyer from the Tufari family, to emphasize its social rank. Of course, it goes without saying that the source of our wealth was the oil trade.
Photos of the facade of Palazzo Tafuri you can see here - [click]
8. The beach
A place for a moment of rest and relaxation after a long walk around the city, but only out of season. In the season you can forget about freedom, peace and quiet. In summer, the beach is very crowded and crowded, so you won't press the pins.
Gallipoli Hotels and accommodation
Gallipoli - when it comes to the price category of accommodation - is not a very expensive place, but it is also not very cheap. You should expect mid-level prices. It is much cheaper to book accommodation if you do it well in advance (no later than two months before the planned arrival). Below are some suggestions for accommodation in Gallipoli.
If you want to browse the Gallipoli accommodation database yourself, you can use the text link below. It is prepared so that it narrows the search result to Gallipoli only:
- booking.com - see all Gallipoli hotelsWARNING!
If you are going to book a hotel then I have a request. Do it from my link to booking.com - [click]. You will pay exactly the samebut by the way, I will get a commission. Of course, you can do it without clicking on my link and then you will pay the same price (not a penny cheaper) and the entire commission will go to one of these portals, but I believe that my work is worth one click, which costs you nothing. Many readers write to me that my texts were very useful. Making such a reservation will be the best thank you.
So if this is not a problem for you, when booking a hotel, go to my website, click the link above, and then simply book any accommodation. Thanks in advance!
Parking lots in Gallipoli
In high season, it is not possible to enter the old part of the city, because in the summer season there is a restricted access zone, ie “Zona a Traffico Limitato” (ZTL for short). Only authorized persons, residents of the old town and tourists who have an overnight stay in the old part of the city have the right to enter the zone (you have to report the registration number to the hotel staff in advance, and the hotel registers your number with the office). If you do not belong to any of these groups or have not previously registered your number at the hotel, you are not allowed to enter the ZTL zone. Then you have to leave the car in the new part of town. Below are the coordinates of several car parks. The duration of the ZTL is determined every year by a resolution of the commune council. In 2020, the ZTL was in force from April 22 to September 30, daily from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 a.m.
In the off-season, you can drive into the old town without restrictions, but there are very few parking spaces here and they are parked on the street. If you want to park as close to the historic center as possible, it's best to just drive around the old town along the walls and you will probably find a single vacant spot.
Below are some tips for the parking lots in Gallipoli.
Useful GPS coordinates
Parking in the new part of town, available in season, GPS coordinates:
40.054987, 17.982030 - click and route
Parking in the new part of town, available in season, GPS coordinates:
40.056482, 17.981721 - click and route
Parking in the new part of town, available in season, GPS coordinates:
40.057067, 17.984876 - click and route
Parking on the street in the old part, available only in low season, GPS coordinates:
40.056416, 17.977126 - click and route
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