Photo of Gallipoli

Visit Gallipoli

The Italian town of Gallipoli is situated towards the southern tip of Puglia (Apulia) in south-east Italy.

Note: this town has no connection with Gallipoli in Turkey, well known for an extensive battle in the First World War.

Explore Gallipoli

Italy This Way review: Gallipoli has a pretty old town with Baroque architecture and an attractive harbour area.

Gallipoli is a popular fishing port and beach destination on the Salento peninsula. Whilst it is popular with Italians it is not well known with tourists and so it is possible to enjoy a more 'authentic' Italy holiday.


Gallipoli is divided into two parts, the Old Town and the New Town. The old town is built on an island which is now connected to the mainland by a bridge dating from the 17th century and it is this part that holds the most interest for visitors.

The old town has a mixture of buildings that date from several different epochs and cultures. It has lots of narrow and tortuous streets in the Islamic style dating from the period of Moorish domination of around 900 AD.

As you cross the bridge into the old town you arrive at the Angioino Castle, built to defend the city. This used to be connected to the mainland via a drawbridge. The castle dates from the 14th century although it has undergone major changes, additions and renovations since.

The castle has a square base and four towers at the corners. A fifth circular tower was added in the 16th century to defend against attacks from the sea. During summer months this is used as a movie theatre, while exhibitions and other cultural events are organized in the large halls.

Among the religious buildings to discover in Gallipoli the most important is the Cathedral of Saint Agata. Built in the 17th century, on the site of an earlier church, it is situated near the centre of the old town, where it is surrounded by numerous palaces, and is the most important Baroque building in Gallipoli.

The cathedral façade is made of stone and incorporates various statues depicting Saint Agata and other saints. The interior of the cathedral has a Latin cross form with three naves intermixed with two rows of Doric columns and an altar of polychrome marble.

As well as many impressive art works there are numerous relics of Saints preserved in the cathedral.

There are many churches in Gallipoli with interesting features. The Church of the Carmine was rebuilt in 1836-38 from a drawing by Vito Donato da Galatone. Inside the church you can see “The Lamented under the Cross”, painted in 1931 by the local painter Giulio Pagliano.

The Church of St. Domenico al Rosario has an octagonal nave covered in stone and includes five altars on each side where there are paintings depicting the "Virgin with child" and the "Saints John the Evangelist and Pietro Martire".

The Church of St. Theresa of Avila retains the Sepulchre of the Spanish bishop called Antonio Perez “Della Lastra” (1631-1700), and is next to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite nuns. The interior includes a carved presbytery with paintings depicting the "Holy Family".

The Church of Saint Clare was built at the end of the 16th century with an adjoining monastery and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Fitted with majolica flooring, it has some ancient paintings in good condition depicting the "Annunciation of the Virgin", "Adoration of the shepherds and the Crucifix", “Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi”.


Also in the old town is the Emanuela Barba Civic Museum of Gallipoli, founded in 1899. The museum doesn't really have a particular theme but presents a variety of objects best described as eclectic such as coins, weapons, terrestrial and marine molluscs from around the world, corals and specimens of fish and shellfish, beetles, birds and small pets.

Among the more unusual items are teeth of elephants and rhinoceros and the remains of reptiles, as well as various strange musical instruments such as the so-called “pantarmonico” that plays the sound of the violin, viola and double bass.

The second section of the museum houses the ancient remains of two sarcophagi of the Messapic age, one of them very rare.

The museum also houses a collection of rare books from the 16 to 19th centuary.

Most unusual is the top floor of the museum which houses a collection of fetuses of infants with fetal diseases and including Siamese twins preserved in formaldehyde. Not for the faint-hearted!

There are two ports at Gallipoli, with the fishing port being the oldest. Situated near the Greek Fountain it extends for about 50 meters and is used to moor the fishermen’s 'Paranze'.

Be sure to visit this pretty fishing port. You will see the boats coming in and out with their catch and fishermen sat by their boats mending nets. This is a great place to find a restaurant for lunch - especially if you want fish. Sea Urchins are a speciality of the town.

The Greek-Roman Fountain was built in the 3rd century BC and has two façades which seem to date from different periods. It was erected by the Greek people (or, according to some scholars, during the Renaissance) in the area named “Fontanelle”, and only later moved near the Church of San Nicola (now destroyed).

The Mercantile Port has an area of 80,000 square meters and develops along a part of the old town.

The New Town of Gallipoli is divided into two parts by the Corso Roma. These are called Sirocco and Tramontana. This part of Gallipoli is characterised by its numerous tourist services and buildings of modern construction - one of the best known is the “Glass Palace” (also known as the Skyscraper), built in the late 1970s.

Whilst visiting Gallipoli be srue to try the local cusisine. The traditional cuisine of Gallipoli uses rather 'poor' ingredients, such as the 'rape nfucate' (stewed broccoli with chilli), beans, chickpeas, homemade pasta such as the 'sagne ncannulate', 'minchiareddhi', and 'ricchiteddhe' accompanied by fresh ricotta cheese.

There are fish dishes such as 'lu purpu the pignata ' (stewed Octopus cooked in a typical terracotta container), soup of Gallipoli, consisting of mussels stuffed and fried black then put in the oven with potatoes; and the 'fracaia ' (tiny fish floured and fried).

The traditional sweets to sample when you visit gallipoli include 'purciddhuzzi cullu apples', the 'carteddhate' and cakes with the “vino cotto de scammaru '. To accompany any dish there are good local rosè wines such as the “Malvasia del Salento” and white wines such as “Moscato di Puglia” and “Donna Marzia white”.


Attractions nearby

North of the city and nearly a mile from the mainland is the Island of Saint Andrea. Covering about 5 hectares, the island of St. Andrea is a site of considerable archaeological importance with bronze age settlements, and the area is the only nesting site on the Ionic and Adriatic coast of Italy for the Corsican Sea-Gull.

In the 18th century the island was used as pasture for flocks of sheep, which were transported to the island on the boats of the shepherds. In the highest part of the island there was a source of freshwater for watering of the flocks.

Galatina and Lecce both have plenty of attractive Baroque buildings to explore.

See also history of Gallipoli

You can find more local travel ideas in the Puglia guide.

See also: 

Photos of Gallipoli

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Map of Gallipoli and places to visit


Gallipoli places to visit



Galatina centre has some fine Baroque buildings.

Galatina guide


Beautiful village in the 'heel' of Italy.

Specchia guide


Lecce has an abundance of rich Baroque architecture

Lecce guide
Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme is a popular spa town and an attractive seaside resort with a number of stunning palaces and villas in the town.

Santa Cesarea Terme guide


Otranto is a lovely seaside town on the Adriatic sea of Italy

Otranto guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Puglia