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Galatina is a small town to the south of Lecce in the Puglia region of southern Italy. It is home to some attractive Baroque architecture.
Galatina is not far from the lovely city of Lecce and enjoyed one of its most prosperous times in history at the same time - the 17th century. Like Lecce this means the town embraced the current fashion for Baroque architecture and Galatina has some fine examples.
Ornate Baroque balconies and doorways are particularly worth looking out for and some good examples can be seen on the Palazzo del Concerto and the Palazzo Scrimeri.
The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, known as the 'mother church' is a pretty church in Baroque style made of the local pale golden stone.
Take a look at the frescoes of Saint Peter's life in the vaults. The nearby Saint Paul's church is known for its healing waters, said to be particularly good at curing those bitten by tarantulas.
In the 15th to 17th century the people of Galatina and around believed that by frenzied dancing they could sweat out the poison of tarantula bites - a custom called "tarantism" which used to be celebrated in Galatina on the 29 June every year. Sadly this no longer happens though the frenzied dancing was at the root of the much more graceful folk dance, the Tarantella.
The Chiesa di Santa Maria della Grazia and the Chiesa del Carmine are two more pretty Baroque style churches.
However Galatina's most impressive monument is the 14th century Romanesque church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria with frescoes by Francesco d'Arezzo from the 15th century. The church has a lovely Rose window and three carved doorways.
Also dating back to its earlier history are the defensive walls and stone gateways of Galatina built in the 16th century. Of the original five gateways three still exist: the Porta Nuovo, the Porta Cappuccinni and the Porta Luce. There was also a ducal castle built into the walls though this has been extensively altered and not much of the original remains. It is now known as the Palazzo Ducale.
Market day is Thursday and is a good chance to buy some of the delicious local food.
Galatina has been given "City of Art" status by the region.
Places to Visit Nearby
You can find more local travel ideas in the Puglia guide.