Tricase, population 17,000, is the main town in the far south of the Salento. The centro storico has a majestic square with a concentration of  historic buildings, including one of Puglia's very finest baroque churches. It is an excellent place to stop off if you are driving to/from Santa Maria di Leuca, which is about 20 km further south. It can easily be reached by public transport, the station on the Ferrovaria Sud Est has direct trains to and from Lecce via Zollino and is a few minutes walk from the centre. Tricase is also a pleasant place to stay if you want a base from which to explore the tip of Italy's heel (NB we can personally recommend the modern Callistos Hotel on the edge of the town centre, with its own car parking and just a few yards from the railway station).

Tricase, as the name suggests, sprang from an area with originally three farmhouses. There are traces of its Roman occupation and records of its ownership by a series of Angevin rulers, finally Balzo Orsino. In 1588 it passed into the hands of the powerful Gallone family, who built the castle which dominates the central area. They established Tricase's key position in the south of Italy, and the family remained continuously in control of the city until 1806 (and continued to live there afterwards). Maria Bianca Gallone, last Princess of Tricase, died in 1982.

The imposing central piazza, Piazza Pisanelli, is the place to head for.  This is dominated by the Gallone castle, the Chiesa Madre and the Chiesa di San Domenica. In the middle is a statute of local notable Guiseppe Pisanelli (1812-1897), a lawyer, politician and activist through the period of Italy's unification, author of a significant legal code for the new Italian government.

The square also accommodates a couple of bars, one of which, la Farmacia Balboa, is a stylish cocktail bar modelled on the old style pharmacy which it replaced, including waiters in white coats. Next to this is a restaurant/pub, the Gallone which serves food and drink with a non-Italian style, mainly Irish! We can recommend both places but there are more traditional bars and restaurants nearby.





The Castello Gallone, also known as the Palazzo dei Principi Gallone, occupies all one side of the Piazza Pisanelli. It consists of a 14th century fortress tower and related structure, and the main body of the building built as a palazzo in 1599-1657. In 1661 both parts were converted into a home for the Gallone family by Stefano II Gallone, the first prince of Tricase. It is said that Stefano II Gallone wanted to make as many rooms as the days of the year, including a room called "of the throne" large enough to accommodate over a thousand people.
The Castello/Palazzo remained in the ownership of the Gallone family and its descendants until the 1950s, when it was bought by the Commune of Tricase. It houses the municipal offices. While not an "official" tourist attraction, it is open to the public and it is possible to wander in and around the building. If you go upstairs you can look out over the Piazza, see the city council chamber, and view the Throne Room which is used for concerts, exhibitions etc. Crucially, the Castello is the main base for the important Salento International Film Festival, featuring independent films from all over the world; this is held annually in the first week of September.

The Chiesa Madre of Tricase, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has a frontage with an entrance onto the lower end of Piazza Pisanelli, although its main frontage is on the Piazza Don Tonino Bello, which can be reached through an archway off the main square.

The building was completed in 1784; previous churches on the site had been damaged by the Turks and general depreciation. It was designed by architect, Adriano Preite of (1724 - 1804). The interior is surprisingly big and has the shape of a cross. There are numerous windows which make the church very light. There are windows on the sides of the roof at the intersection of the cross in the centre of the church, which have a beautiful effect on the ceiling there.  Walls are decorated in light stucco. The high altar, built in 1876, is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. There are twelve side altars.













The pulpit carved in foliage is the work of Raffaele Monteanni of Lequile, near Lecce, in 1795. There are paintings and other objects including some transferred from the older church buildings on the site. Some paintings are attributed to famous Italian artists including Titian, Catalano, Coppola, La Palma and Veronese.

The church was closed 1992-1995 for a complete restoration. Its reopening was commemorated by a new large painting "Il Cenacolo" (The Last Supper), measuring 8 x 4.25 meters, by the painter Roberto Buttazzo of Lequile, which was placed inside the main entrance door.


Also fronting onto Piazza Pisanelli, with an imposing flight of steps in front, is the Chiesa di San Domenico da Guzman, built in 1679-1703.  The Dominican monastery was founded in Tricase in the 13th century. When the church was built to replace an older structure, the Domincan order was very well supported financially by the local nobility and merchant classes. No expense was spared in the elaborate construction, design and decoration. The result is a baroque highlight of Puglia, and a must for any visitor.


















We definitely recommend a visit to the small town of Specchia, which lies inland a few miles to the north of the very tip of the Salento Peninsula. Specchia is justifiably  known as "The Jewel of the Southern Salento".

Although there have been settlements located here for many centuries the name Specchia derives from the term used for dry stone walls constructed in the local Bronze Age, it was not until the Middle Ages that the strategic location of the village meant that a castle was constructed along with protective town walls, and the location became of real significance for the first time.

During the early 15th Century Specchia was caught up in the bloody battles over the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples, being captured and destroyed. It was not until the end of the 15th Century that the town was repopulated and the castle and walls repaired.

Today, Specchia boasts one of the most attractive old towns in the Salento, if not Puglia itself, with well-preserved buildings, pleasant squares and narrow streets. Surprisingly perhaps for such a small town (population about 5,000), the very active local council has managed to attract significant money from Unesco and the European Union to finance local revitalisation and tourist promotion initiatives. These include getting rid of most overhead electricity wires and restoring traditional paving in the centro storico.

Specchia - il centro storico
Specchia - il centro storico

Since 2004 the town has been recognised with accreditation within the prestigious "I Borghi più Belli d'Italia" or "The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy" scheme. It has also received the "Forest for Kyoto" Prize twice, for being an environmentally progressive community. Unusual features include researching and using traditional local recipes and local foodstuffs. These may have some effect on health - when some of our family visited in October 2015 the whole town was celebrating the 100th birthday of a local lady!

The focal point of the old town is the Piazza del Popolo, a good sized square that hosts the main town events. On one side of the piazza is the Chiesa Matrice, built in the 16th and 17th centuries on an older foundation, with impressive architecture both inside and out. Attached to the church is the clock and bell tower that can be seen from the surrounding countryside and is beautifully illuminated at night.

Specchia - Palazzo Risolo
Palazzo Risolo and Piazza del Popolo

On the other side of the square is the Palazzo Protonobilissimo-Risolo - originally the town's castle (it is sometimes referred to as Il Castello) which was extended and modified from the late 15th Century through to the 18th Century. Its present appearance mainly results from modifications made by Desiderio Protonobilissimo, a local prince; statues of him and his wife Margherita Trane can be seen above the main door. It subsequently passed into the ownership of the Risolo family, but part of it is now owned by the Specchia commune, housing an important reference library and the town's tourist information centre.

The centro storico is small, clean and neat. It contains a number of attractive churches and buildings, including  underground olive oil presses, open in the summer, tours available at other times of the year by arrangement. Buildings of particular note include the Chiesa dell'Assunta and the Convento dei Francescani Neri (the "Black Friars").

Specchia - Chiesa dell'Assunta
Specchia - Chiesa dell'Assunta

Specchia - la Chiesa Madre
Specchia - la Chiesa Madre











Specchia has a fantastic feel to it, with especially friendly residents. A stroll around the streets of the old town is a very relaxing experience, the town has really made the most of its architecture and is spotlessly clean and well cared for. The centro storico can be "covered" easily in less than a couple of hours, so it is ideal for a coffee or lunch stop if touring this area. However, relatives have also stayed in Specchia and used it as a base for visiting other places in the Salento (we can recommend accommodation if required).

A car is pretty much essential here. Specchia is poorly served by train/bus services. However, it is not impossible to reach it, we do have some experience of public transport in the area. There is a station called Montesano-Miggiano-Specchia on the local railway Ferrovaria Sud Est (FSE) between Lecce and Galliano del Capo. However, this is well outside Specchia, and there are no facilities or taxi availability. Unless you have arranged to be picked up there, we would advise going to the next station, Tricase, which is not much further away, and from there you will be able to get a taxi more easily There s a very limited summer bus service between Specchia and Tricase but we have no experience of this or how reliable it might be - at first sight it looks like the buses are not especially regular or frequent.

For a coffee stop, try the cafe and pasticceria Martinucci on the main street (Via Umberto 1) close to the main piazza. Martinucci is now a large scale international business, but it started in and is still based in Specchia. It specialises in pasticiotti, and sells many varieties here; you can see the baking taking place in the shop behind a glass screen. Other options are the tiny Cafe degli Artisti on a corner at the end of Via Umberto 1, which has a few seats outside. Or Le Mille Voglie, a larger cafe/pasticceria with a wide range of mouthwatering possibilities as well as good coffee; this is a few steps along Via Roma, a tree lined avenue leading away from the centre, it has an external seating area plus a garden at the rear.

For eating, there are a few options, including a couple of pizzerias on the main street. Family members have tried the small Trattoria La Bettola on the main street, linked to the macelleria (butcher shop) of the same name - so not surprisingly this specialises in meat dishes, as well as fabulous antipasti. Just round the corner from the Chiesa Matrice, opposite the main Frantoio Ipogeo, is Trattoria da Coppuledda; this offers a more traditional range of dishes, including fish and top quality pasta. In both cases the owners prefer the term "trattoria" to "ristorante"!

There is a helpful tourism information centre in Piazza del Popolo, open 9.45-12.00 and 17.00-20.00 every day; you can get a leaflet (including one in English) with a map of the old town and brief guide to the main sites. Specchia is busy with visitors in the July/August period, but not as much as the nearby coastal towns. At other times of the year it is fairly quiet. Nobody visiting Specchia will regret it; somewhere a little bit special even in this wonderful area.


There are signs of Galatone as a settlement dating back to the Neolithic period. In the post-Roman era the town was an important Greek centre, and like many parts of the Salento still retains several aspects of Greek culture and language as an influence on the modern town. Saracens, Hungarians, Byzantines, Turks and Venetians have all had a hold over the town over the centuries, but it was until the 16th Century under the rule of Genoese banking family called Squarciafico that the town experienced a significant period of prosperity and growth. The baroque styled buildings constructed during this time  have earned the town its place among the 'minor baroque' towns surrounding Lecce.

Galatone - Santuario del Crocifisso della Pietà
Santuario del Crocifisso della Pietà

A terrible earthquake in 1743 destroyed many of Galatone's walls and buildings, but a handful still remain. The baroque church Santuario del Crocifisso della Pietà, completed in 1710 sits on a small piazza, opposite the Palazzo Marchesale, which was the home of the Squarciafico family.

Whilst not demanding a lengthy visit, Galatone is worthy of a quick stop off as part of a trip to the other towns in the area.


South of Casarano in the tip of the heel is Ugento. In ancient times 'Aoxentum', as it was then known, was an important city. Although inland, it had a significant port at what today is called Torre San Giovanni. This continued through to Roman times, but the collapse of the Roman Empire was mirrored here on a smaller scale with the city repeatedly crushed by Goths, Lombards and Saracens.

Ugento - Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta
Ugento - Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta

In the old town is the Piazza San Vincenzo, where you'll find the clocktower and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, and is the location of most of the town's festivals and events.

There is a 14th Century crypt, Cripta del Crocifisso which has impressive frescoes, and in the Franciscan convent of Santa Maria della Pietra there is the Museo Civico di Archeologia e Paleontologia, with various ancient collections of coins, vases, and ceramics. Both can be visited using the same admission ticket.

In July the town celebrates Sagra Della Puccia, a food festival accompanied by various musical acts, 'Puccia' being the specialist pitta like bread of the Salento.

On the coast at Torre San Giovanni there are 16th Century Angevine towers, one of which is used as a lighthouse.


To the west and south of Lecce, between the city and the Ionian coast is the town of Leverano. Twice destroyed, once by the Ostrogoths and once by the Arabs, the town is now dominated by another of Frederick II's constructions, the castle Torre Quadrata. Built in the 13th Century, the tower was an important part of the strategic defenses for the area, and in particular the ports of Otranto and Gallipoli. The moat and drawbridge that were also part of the building have long since disappeared, as have the three floors that once seperated the tower into four chambers on top of one another.

Also of note in the town is the convent and Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. Originally built in the 16th Century, the convent was closed in 1807, until it was returned to the church by the town council in 1935.

Leverano - Convento Santa Maria delle Grazie
Convento Santa Maria delle Grazie

The fertile land surrounding Leverano has earned it the moniker 'town of wine, oil and flowers'. The wine produced here, Leverano, is recognised with DOC status. In November, the town celebrates Novello in Festa, a celebration of wine and flowers.

Unless you are in town for a specific festival, it won't take up too much time to explore. The old town surrounding the tower is pleasant and contains a couple of small squares, and there are a handful of cafes where you can get refreshment or a bite to eat.


Santa Maria di Leuca

Santa Maria di Leuca is the southernmost tip of Puglia, where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. Its location has meant that it has been of significance for thousands of years. The headland is marked contains an important lighthouse and the Basilica della Madonna de Finibus Terrae ('End of the Land'), a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

The Basilica was constructed on the site of the Roman Temple of Minerva. According to the myths, the temple crumbled to the ground when St. Peter landed here in Italy on his way to Rome. In the middle of August the statue of the Virgin Mary is taken from the Basilica and paraded through the streets, before being placed on a specially constructed boat and taken along the coast to Marina San Gregoria, before being transported back to the Basilica, celebrations being completed with a dramatic fireworks display.

Santa Maria di Leuca - la basilica









The landmark that identifies Santa Maria di Leuca for miles around is Il Faro, the lighthouse, of octagonal design, almost 50m high, over 100m above sea level. Built in the 1860s on the site of a previous watch tower it is still in use today, and is one of Italy's most important lighthouses.

Santa Maria di Leuca - il faro
Il faro

The juxtaposition of the lighthouse looking out to sea and the column topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary looking inland gives this spot a significant atmosphere in sunny weather but even more so when the sea is rough and the sky ominous.


Santa Maria di Leuca is also the end point of the Acquedotto Pugliese, an immense engineering project almost a century in the making. After numerous delays and setbacks, it was finally completed in 1941. Mussolini required a dramatic finish, so here in Leuca was built a man made waterfall for the waters of the aqueduct to spill from, with a fake Roman column at the bottom and flights of steps on either side. You can walk up or down the steps - 300 of them.



Santa Maria di Leuca - il acquadotto
Il acquadotto











It is disappointing to see the course of the waterfall without any water! However, it operates for an hour at 10pm on summer Friday nights, when it is floodlit - we have never seen this but it should be good if you get the chance. Otherwise it only runs very occasionally.

The promontory where the Basilica and the lighthouse are situated is very popular with visitors of course; there is a lot of car parking space but this gets pretty full in summer. when there are also  stalls selling various gifts and other wares. There is a cafe and food is available. The promontory overlooks the resort area of Santa Maria di Leuca and its associated marina; you can drive down or walk down the Aquedotto steps.


Santa Maria di Leuca


The town was a popular holiday destination for rich Italians for a long time. It was really just a village around the church of Christe Re, still a key landmark. However, its main period of development came in the years after 1874, when Guiseppe Ruggiero, a well known engineer, bought some fields along the shore and decided to build a resort. He started by designing and constructing a villa for himself and his family - the Villa Meridiana, named after a sundial feature over the front door; this is now an important historical feature on the lungomare (promenade). He went on to design a series of villas for rich and fashionable clients, in all kinds of styles, including classical, Moorish and renaissance. These, together with the promenade and viewpoints constructed along the seafront, give the resort an elegant and restrained air which persists to this day.















As well as the numerous sandy beaches in the area surrounding Leuca, there are many hidden caves amongst the rocky parts of the coastline, such as the Grotta Porcinara and Grotta dei Diavolo. Boat trips are available from the promenade and the marina (home to visiting sailing and motor yachts) to discover these and other features of the coastline. There are several excellent quality restaurants on the promenade, right on the beach and over the water's edge. These only operate in the summer season. However, there are other good places to eat and drink just inside the promenade, these are open all year round.

Although Leuca is at the very tip of the Salento Peninsula and a long way to travel from most other places in Puglia, it is well worth a visit, just to say 'you've been there'. There is a dual carriageway road until just south of Maglie. To get there by public transport is a challenge! - we personally know it can be done with planning and patience, anyone who needs more information/advice should contact us, we will be pleased to assist.







To the south and east of Lecce is the town of Otranto; Part of Otranto is essentially a holiday resort, but the separate and distinctive walled city is a major attraction in Puglia. In July and August it is very popular among Italian holiday makers and gets extremely crowded - but out of season this is a great place to go, and the mosaic floor of the cathedral is a "must see".

FSE shuttle Maglie/Otranto
FSE shuttle Maglie/Otranto

Otranto is about an hour and a half drive from Ostuni; you will need to park in the resort area, there are car parks near the railway station. It is also easy to reach by train using the Ferrovaria Sud Est from Lecce - go to Maglie and change onto the charming shuttle service to Otranto, there are trains roughly every half hour, and it takes about an hour altogether from Lecce.

From Otranto station walk straight ahead to a roundabout, cross the main road there and walk down a little street behind the fruit shop on the corner, then turn left to reach the seafront (about five minutes from the station), from where you will see the old city on your right (another couple of minutes walk).



Otranto has Greek origins, previously being named Hydrus. Post Roman history witnessed the town remain in Byzantine ownership, and was one of the last settlements to withstand the Norman invasion of southern Italy, until it succumbed to Richard Guiscard in 1068. The city was heavily involved in the wars between Italian kingdoms and the Turks in the late 15th and early 16th century, and suffered from attacks from the Turks until 1644. For centuries it was one of Europe's key bastions against the incursions of the Ottoman empire, which had a major impact on Otranto's development.
The old town is largely enclosed by old walls, now built up, some of them along the side of the port area. From the resort area to the north, you enter the old city by crossing over the small river Idro (from which Otranto gets its original name),  then across a pleasant little garden area, and  through the massive arches of the double gateway Porta Alfonsina. 

Otranto - la Porta Alfonsina
Otranto - la Porta Alfonsina

Within the old town, there is the familiar maze of narrow streets and small squares, but it is smaller and less difficult to find your way around than many similar places. The streets also open out onto larger spaces beside the sea and around the castle.

In the heart of the narrow streets is the Romanesque Cattedrale d'Annunziata, built in the 11th century and extended/decorated especially in the early 16th century (a splendid rose window with 16 rays).

Otranto - la Cattedrale
Otranto - la Cattedrale

Make sure you go inside the Cattedrale to see the amazing mosaic reputed to be the largest in Europe. It was made in 1163-1165, and covers the whole floor of the cathedral. Based on a 'Tree of Life' it portrays the path from sin to salvation, with  scenes from the Bible, various mediaeval myths etc.

Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale
Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale
Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale
Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale
Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale
Otranto - la Cattedrale - Mosaico Pavimentale


Otranto - la Cattedrale (roof)
Otranto - la Cattedrale (roof)

Preserved in the cathedral are the skulls and bones of the 800 Martyrs of Otranto who were beheaded by the Turks in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam. The atmospheric crypt is also well worth visiting (it can be entered from inside the cathedral or directly from street level), dark and cool, multiple columns and frescoed walls. Note the cathedral is closed to visitors from noon until 3.00pm.

Piazza del Popolo is a small square in the heart of the old town. Just off this square, up a small flight of steps, is the Chiesa di San Pietro, a tiny Byzantine church dating back to the 9th century. If you are lucky enough to find it open, go onside and see the precious frescoes.

Otranto - Piazza del Popolo
Otranto - Piazza del Popolo
Otranto - Chiesa di San Pietro
Otranto - Chiesa di San Pietro

















The imposing Castello Aragonese was built by Federick II of Swabia in 1226 and subsequently modified by the Aragonese (15th Century) and Emperor Carlo V  (16th Century). It is of an unusual five-sided design, with three significant towers and a large moat crossed by a drawbridge.  You get good views of the massive fortification from the outside, there is a large open area in front of it, Piazza Castello. It is open to the public every day (closed 1.00-3.00pm). The cost is 5 euros, but if you keep the tickets they qualify for you for a 1 euro discount at Gallipoli castle.

Otranto - Castello Aragonese
Otranto - Castello Aragonese

Although there are good views from the ramparts over the town and out to sea, the inside of the castle is mainly used for temporary art exhibitions, and the entry fee is quite high because of this - on balance we would not think it worth paying to look around inside the castle unless you have a specific  interest in the art works on display. One permanent display in the castle relates to the author Horace Walpole, author in 1764 of the famous novel" which he entitled "The Castle of Otranto", regarded as the first "Gothic" novel. Although his fictional castle bears little resemblance to the reality, the display is remarkably comprehensive and makes the most of the connection with Walpole.

There are ample opportunities for eating and drinking in Otranto, even out of the summer season, especially if you like seafood.  Around the edge of the old town are promenades and larger squares, many overlooking the port/marina, with bars and restaurants. There are also lots of bars, cafes and restaurants around the town, particularly near the beaches. Otranto is at the narrowest part of the Adriatic, so Albania can often be seen, only 43km away.

There a two main beaches at Otranto, which are very popular in the summer months. Surrounding the old town spreading over the hilly areas are many modern hotels which have given the town a year round resort feel, very much in contrast to the towns of the Salento further inland.



South from Otranto, 5km along the coast, is the lighthouse of Faro della Palascia, the most easterly point in the Italian peninsula. This is not worth a visit, it is a very disappointing 'modern' lighthouse!.












To the east of Gallipoli near the centre of the tip of the peninsula is the town of Casarano.

Casarano - Chiesa Santa Maria della Croce
Chiesa Santa Maria della Croce

The town's Chiesa di Santa Maria della Croce is the primary reason for visiting the town. It is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in the world. Scattered amongst the arches and vaulted ceilings are numerous frescoes, many of Byzantine and Gothic origin. It is located in the outskirts of Casarano, in Casaranello, just near the town's train station. Every Saturday evening from July through to September there are free of charge guided tours of the church.

Casarano - Chiesa Madre
Chiesa Madre

The main part of the town itself consists of a not unpleasant new town next to the centro storico which contains quiet pedestrianised streets, squares and churches such as the Chiesa Madre. It is worth a visit but only as part of a wider itinerary exploring the other towns and cities in the surrounding area.


Gallipoli is located on the west coast of the Salento peninsula, to the south and west of Lecce. Meaning 'Beautiful City' in Greek, the town is of Messapic origins. After siding against Rome it failed to flourish within the Empire, and was then sacked by the Goths. Much of the old town today was due to the Byzantine rebuilding of the city, before it was ruled by Normans, Angevins and Bourbons.

Gallipoli - old and new
Gallipoli - old and new

As with many Puglian towns, Gallipoli today is split into two very distinct parts, the new and the old towns. The new town is situated on the "mainland". The old town is primarily located on an "island". Surrounded by the sea, it is connected to the mainland by a bridge built in the 16th - 17th Century, reputed to be the oldest bridge in Italy - and now dominated by a very tall and ugly building on the mainland side (known as the Glass Palace or the Skyscraper), completely out of character.

For most visitors, Gallipoli old town on the "island" is the attraction - and if you are on even a short trip to this part of Puglia, Gallipoli should be high on your list of places to visit - the old town has massive character plus lots of points of interest packed into a very small area.  However, Gallipoli is one of Italy's main summer holiday and tourist destinations. In the peak months of July and August it gets very crowded indeed, and is very lively. It receives a lot of visitors at other times of the year, but if you get a chance to visit outside the high season, you will appreciate its attractions more.  
Running through the middle of the new part of Gallipoli is Corso Roma, an elegant tree-lined road flanked by up market shops, bars, hotels and restaurants. Corso Roma leads straight to the bridge into the old town.

Gallipoli - Isola San Andrea
Isola San Andrea

The old town is completely enclosed by defensive walls along the sea; these originated from the 14th Century. Along the top of the old walls there is now a road (known as the Riviera) which follows the edge of the old town "island" in a circuit, populated with many bars and restaurants. Some of these have views to the island of Sant'Andrea with its lighthouse, now a nature reserve, a short distance away into  the bay. Others overlook the busy harbour and fish landing areas (there is an important fish market and landing area near the bridge).

As well as the castle, several important churches are located on this outer ring; most of these and other churches in Gallipoli are linked to religious fraternities which provided a welfare support framework for the community, especially the fishing community.

Inside this outer ring are narrow winding streets typical of the region, where you will find numerous Baroque churches and elaborately decorated palazzi, as well as more cafés and restaurants. The main street through the middle is called Via Antonietta de Pace; this links two small Piazze - Piazza Repubblica and Piazza de Amicis. Gallipoli old town has no large piazze, it is very compact and enclosed. Taking more or less any of the narrow winding streets will soon bring you out at the seafront road so it is pretty hard to get lost.

There are many things to see and do in Gallipoli, as well as the summer and to some extent all year round night life and cultural activity. It is a good place to wander round casually. However, for the day visitor, we would suggest a few specific things which we hope will be of most interest. Fortunately all are within a few yards of one another in the old town.

Gallipoli - Cattedrale di Sant'Agata
Cattedrale di Sant'Agata

The Basilica Cattedrale di Sant'Agata is an absolute must. Its exterior is a good example of Lecce style baroque, crammed in among the narrow streets without any spacious piazza in front. But make sure you go inside (closed usually between noon and 3pm). The interior is a beautifully balanced pattern of architecture, decoration and altar paintings, including key works by the local 17th century artists Giovanni Andrea Coppola and Nicola Malinconico. A visit to the crypt is essential, a dark chamber packed with pillars and remains of frescoes on the walls, very atmospheric.

Gallipoli - il Castello
il Castello

The Castello Angioni (dating in its current form mainly from 15th and 16th centuries), a key fortress in this area, is located next to the bridge. It has only been open to the public since 2014 and is still being improved in this respect. The entrance is through a 19th century market hall  now modernised and renovated with gift shops and a cafe/wine bar. Entry to the castle (it closes 1pm-3pm) costs five euros but there are concessionary rates. In this case the price is worth paying. The interior of the castle is basically military and functional, the most interesting and impressive features being large circular and polygonal rooms with very thick walls. There are fine views from the ramparts. The information on the various parts of the castle is well organised.

Gallipoli - il Frantoio del Vicere
il Frantoio del Vicere

Try to see a Frantoio Ipogeo (underground olive press). There are several open to the public, entry costs 1 or 2 euros and is well worth it; there were said to be 35 in the old city. Gallipoli was a massive centre for production of low quality olive oil for use in oil lamps throughout Europe, including London.

Gallipoli - Il Museo Civico
il Museo Civico

We like the Museo Civico Emmanuele Barba, but not everybody will. This costs a euro, and is open mornings except Mondays. It contains a weird collection of objects including the skeleton of a whale, various other skeletons, fossils, rocks, stuffed birds and animals, coins, old costumes, weapons, prints, tools, instruments etc, all mixed up and badly presented in a lofty book-lined room. But be warned if you go upstairs (NB you are supposed to pay extra to do this - but nobody seems to bother) - there is a deeply unpleasant collection of aborted foetuses preserved in jars, not for children or the faint hearted.

Gallipoli - Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purita
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purita

Two of the several churches on the Riviera have unmissable interiors if you can find them open - Santa Maria della Purita and San Francesco di Assisi - especially the former.

There are places everywhere in Gallipoli for eating and drinking. Seafood features strongly of course, so if you don't fancy this you need to check on a menu to make sure that other options are available.

La spiaggia

The Spiaggia della Purita is Gallipoli's main beach, situated on the old town island, and has a reputation for a vibrant party atmosphere – the bars and cafés around this and nearby beaches and sites in the surrounding countryside all contribute to the town being known as the party capital of Puglia.

Gallipoli is easy enough to reach by car from Ostuni, taking not much more than an hour by car; it is linked to Lecce by a direct dual carriageway. You will need to park somewhere in the new town and walk into the old town which has limited access (there is a car park near the bridge).

However, you can easily get there by train using the Ferrovaria Sud Est railway service from Lecce (or maybe Francavilla Fontana or Ceglie Messapica, change at Novoli). If you do this, make sure you don't get off at an extra station they slip in at Gallipoli (Via Agrigento). Outside the main station walk straight ahead for about 100 metres, then turn right along Corso Roma until you reach the bridge to the old town - 5-10 minutes pleasant walk.  
Although it is easy enough to visit Gallipoli from Ostuni, we have stayed overnight there in a brilliant hotel, details available if requested.