Gallipoli is a fishing village on the coast in southern Italy's Puglia region with an interesting old town built on a limestone island and linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge. Its harbors are used by fishing boats and there's plenty of fresh seafood. The name Gallipoli comes from the Greek Kallipolis meaning beautiful city, as this area was once part of ancient Greece.
Gallipoli is on the west coast of the Salento Peninsula, in the Gulf of Taranto on the Ionian Sea. It's about 90 kilometers south of Brindisi and 100 kilometers southeast of Taranto. The Salento Peninsula is the southern part of the Puglia region, known as the heel of the boot.
Gallipoli is served by the private Ferrovia del Sud Est rail and bus lines. To arrive by train, take a regular train to Lecce from Foggia or Brindisi, then transfer to the Ferrovia del Sud Est line to Gallipoli (train does not run on Sundays). From Lecce, it's a one hour train ride.
To arrive by car, take the autostrada (toll road) to Taranto or Lecce. It's about a 2-hour drive from Taranto or a 40-minute drive from Lecce on the state road. There are paid parking lots as you get into the new city but if you continue there's a large parking lot closer to the castle and old town. Car rentals are available in Brindisi from Auto Europe.
The closest airport is Brindisi, served by flights from elsewhere in Italy and some parts of Europe.
What to See and Do
- The highlight of a visit is Gallipoli's Old Town, built on an island now connected to the mainland by a bridge. It's very picturesque and a nice place to stroll through its maze of alleys. The 17th century Baroque Sant' Agata Cathedral is in the center of the town. Several interesting churches are along the perimeter of the old town facing the sea. The walls and bastions surrounding the old town are believed to have been built in the 15th century to fend off attacks, especially from pirates. The walls were altered in the 19th century permitting beautiful views of the sea, port, and harbors.
- The Hypogeum Oil Press at Palazzo Granafei was a major center for producing lamp oil. It's now open to the public.
- The pretty port is still used by fishing boats and you'll see fishermen mending their colorful nets and houses decorated with fishing baskets. Restaurants serve fresh seafood and sea urchins are a specialty of Gallipoli.
- Castello Angiono stands near the entrance to the old town. The current fortress, built on old Byzantine fortifications, probably originated in the 11th century but was altered quite a bit in the 15th century. The fortress guarded the old port, once part of an important trade route, and was connected to the mainland by a drawbridge.
- Corte Gallo is a surprising little alleyway that looks like an open-air ethnographic museum.
- A sandy beach, Spiaggia della Purita, lies on one side of the old town, outside the walls. Private boats can dock in the recently built tourist harbor.
When to Go
Gallipoli has a mild climate and can be visited year-round but the main season is May through October when the weather is almost always hot and clear. There are good celebrations and festivals for Easter Week, Carnival (40 days before Easter), Sant'Agata in February, and Santa Cristina in July.