Sunday, 5 October 2014
The last outing of our holiday to Puglia is a trip to Gallipoli on the west side of the Salento peninsular. Gallipoli is an ancient settlement and its old town is located on an island which was joined to the mainland by a bridge in the 16th century. The town is protected by an imposing castle built in 1622 by Charles of Anjou. The structure which sticks out into sea is apparently called a ravelin.
The new town side has a lovely renaissance style church also of the 16th century ...
... and a rather ravaged, but pleasing, fountain, described in guide books as the Greek Fountain and said to be the oldest in Italy. A helpful information panel reveals it too in fact dates only from the 16th century.
The scale of the castle becomes clear once we cross the bridge.
Gallipoli is a walled city, one of our great enthusiasms, so we naturally set out to walk round the walls. We quickly noticed a charming miniature castle on one of the sides of the harbour.
There are bastions at various points - we discovered later that they and the walls were reduced in size in the 19th century. Rather surprisingly to us, the curve between two of these bastions contains a pleasant sandy beach. The bastions tend to house restaurants and the one on the far side has palm frond sun umbrellas which we found a touch surreal.
Several churches face out to sea and were especially impressed with the Franciscan church with a facade of a style we have never previously seen.
Soon after this there was an interesting sight, a lighthouse some way out to see on the rocky islnad of San Andrea. It dates from 1867 and has a very different appearance to the English lighthouses we see on our walks along the South West Coast Path.
At this point we paused for an excellent lunch at Il Belvedere, a fish restaurant specialising in raw fish! I had the sea bream carpaccio for my starter and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Once we completed the circuit, we headed up a typical tourist street into the centre of the old town. The narrow streets were pleasant enough, but not especially distinguished compared to others we have seen recently. The Baroque cathedral was at the over-the-top end of the Baroque scale and hard to photograph in its very cramped location. The adjoining bell tower was however a real delight.
I can't resist including one last picture. Our locally-bought guide to Puglia mentioned that Gallipoli's new town is so modern that it "even has a sky-scraper". Here it is, just on the new town side of the bridge, insensitively dwarfing the pleasant old buildings of the harbour side. The middle section overhangs the base in a tiresomely clever way and the top section looks like a large portakabin has been left over from the construction work.
Conditions: mild, but with a constant threat of rain.
Distance: 2 miles.
Rating: three and a half stars. Charming and interesting.