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A Short Guide To Gallipoli, Italy – An Old Town On An Island


Modified: September 26, 2023

by Merna Judson



Gallipoli, Italy, a charming town located on the Apulian coast, is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Situated on a small island in the Ionian Sea, Gallipoli attracts visitors with its picturesque old town, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine.


This ancient town has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. From Greek and Roman settlements to Byzantine and Ottoman influences, Gallipoli has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, leaving behind an intriguing blend of architectural styles and cultural traditions.


Today, Gallipoli serves as a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking a peaceful escape from the bustling cities. Its narrow streets are lined with whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful flowers, offering a postcard-perfect setting for leisurely strolls.


One of the highlights of Gallipoli is its pristine beaches. Crystal-clear turquoise waters lap the sandy shores, inviting visitors to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Whether you’re looking for quiet coves or lively beach clubs, Gallipoli has options to suit every preference.


Moreover, Gallipoli is renowned for its delectable cuisine. From fresh seafood caught daily to regional specialties like orecchiette pasta and local olive oil, food enthusiasts will find themselves in culinary heaven. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in a traditional Italian meal at one of the many charming restaurants dotted throughout the town.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a beach lover, or a foodie, Gallipoli has something to offer everyone. Immerse yourself in the rich history, bask in the beauty of the beaches, and savor the flavors of authentic Italian cuisine in this enchanting coastal town. Let’s take a closer look at the wonders that await you in Gallipoli, Italy.


Overview of Gallipoli, Italy

Gallipoli, situated in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, is a charming coastal town that captivates visitors with its historical significance and natural beauty. This hidden gem offers a unique mix of cultural heritage, stunning beaches, and mouthwatering cuisine.


The town of Gallipoli is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge, providing breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea. With a population of around 20,000, the town retains its small-town charm and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist hotspots.


Gallipoli’s history stretches back thousands of years, evidenced by the various architectural styles and cultural influences that can be found throughout the town. From ancient Greek and Roman civilizations to Byzantine and Ottoman rule, the town has seen its fair share of historical transformations.


One of the main attractions of Gallipoli is its picturesque old town, known as the “Città Vecchia”. Enclosed by impressive 16th-century ramparts, this labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys is lined with traditional whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful flowers. As you stroll through the old town, you’ll encounter charming squares, historic churches, and inviting cafes, creating a truly enchanting ambiance.


Gallipoli is also renowned for its stunning beaches, attracting sun seekers from far and wide. The beaches here are known for their crystal-clear turquoise waters and golden sands. From popular stretches of coastline to hidden coves nestled among rocky cliffs, there is a beach for every taste. Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind or engage in water sports, Gallipoli’s beaches have it all.


No visit to Gallipoli would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. The town is a culinary paradise, offering a diverse range of flavors inspired by both land and sea. Seafood lovers will delight in the abundance of fresh catches, while those craving traditional Italian dishes can savor local specialties like orecchiette pasta, savory focaccia, and tangy olive oil. Be sure to explore the local market and indulge in the delights of Gallipoli’s gastronomy.


With its rich history, stunning beaches, and tantalizing cuisine, Gallipoli stands as a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. Immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of this coastal town and discover the hidden treasures it has to offer.


History of Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Italy has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years. The town has been inhabited since ancient times, with evidence of Greek and Roman settlements in the area. These civilizations laid the foundation for what would become a hub of trade and cultural exchange in the Mediterranean region.


During the Byzantine era, Gallipoli flourished as a strategic stronghold. The town became an important center for trade and commerce, with its strategic location attracting attention from various competing powers. It was during this time that the impressive city walls and fortifications were constructed to protect the town from invasions.


In the 13th century, the town fell under Norman rule and later became part of the Kingdom of Sicily. The Normans made significant contributions to the development of Gallipoli, leaving behind architectural masterpieces such as the impressive Angevin Castle, which still stands today as a testament to their influence.


One of the most significant chapters in Gallipoli’s history occurred during the Byzantine-Ottoman wars in the late 14th century. In 1480, the Ottomans launched a massive siege on Gallipoli, resulting in the town falling under Ottoman control. The Ottomans ruled over Gallipoli for nearly four centuries, leaving a lasting impact on its cultural and architectural heritage.


During the Ottoman period, Gallipoli witnessed a period of prosperity and growth. The Ottoman influence can still be seen today through the mosques, hammams (Turkish baths), and other structures that dot the town’s landscape. The Ottomans also utilized the town’s strategic location to establish a thriving trade route in the Mediterranean, further boosting Gallipoli’s economic significance.


Gallipoli remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century when it became part of the Kingdom of Italy. This marked a new chapter in the town’s history, as Italy focused on modernizing the infrastructure and elevating Gallipoli’s status as a tourist destination.


Today, the historical legacy of Gallipoli is preserved within its ancient walls and fortified structures. Visitors can explore the remnants of the past, including the imposing city walls, the picturesque old town, and the medieval churches that showcase the town’s rich architectural heritage.


Gallipoli’s history is a captivating narrative of conquest, cultural exchange, and resilience. It is a testament to the town’s enduring spirit and its ability to adapt and thrive in the face of changing political landscapes. Discovering the history of Gallipoli is like stepping back in time, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating stories that have shaped this remarkable coastal town.


Location and Geography

Gallipoli is located in the Apulia region of southern Italy, specifically in the province of Lecce. Situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea, Gallipoli is a town that combines natural beauty with historical charm. The town itself is built on a small limestone island connected to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge.


Gallipoli’s geographic location has played a significant role in shaping its history and cultural identity. Surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters, the town offers stunning views of the sea from every angle. The coastline is dotted with sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and hidden coves, making it a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts.


The town’s strategic position on the sea made it a hub for trade and maritime activities throughout history. It served as an important port, connecting Italy to other parts of the Mediterranean and facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.


The geography of Gallipoli is characterized by its unique island setting. The old town, known as the “Città Vecchia,” is located on the eastern edge of the island and is surrounded by 16th-century defensive walls. Meandering through its narrow alleys and streets, visitors can discover hidden squares, historic churches, and traditional buildings adorned with vibrant flowers.


Exploring beyond the old town, visitors will find a contrast between the historical charm and the modern amenities of the newer part of Gallipoli. The town has expanded onto the mainland, offering a range of shops, restaurants, and accommodations for tourists.


Aside from the town itself, Gallipoli is also known for its stunning beaches. The coastline stretches for miles, offering a variety of options for beachgoers. From crowded and bustling beaches with beach clubs and water sports facilities to secluded and quiet spots for relaxation, Gallipoli has a beach for every preference.


With its breathtaking natural beauty and strategic coastal location, Gallipoli has captured the hearts of visitors from all over the world. Whether exploring the historical old town, lounging on the beaches, or enjoying the panoramic views of the sea, Gallipoli offers a truly unique experience in a stunning coastal setting.


Attractions in Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Italy is a treasure trove of attractions that cater to a wide array of interests. From its historical landmarks and architectural wonders to its stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy in this charming coastal town.


The old town of Gallipoli, known as the “Città Vecchia,” is undoubtedly one of the main attractions. Enclosed by 16th-century defensive walls, this picturesque area is a labyrinth of narrow streets, historic buildings, and charming squares. Visitors can wander through the ancient alleyways, discovering hidden gems at every turn. Don’t miss the chance to explore the impressive Angevin Castle, which offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding sea.


Gallipoli is home to several magnificent churches that showcase the town’s rich religious history and architectural heritage. The Cathedral of Sant’Agata, with its stunning Baroque facade and elaborately decorated interior, is a must-visit. The Church of Santa Maria della Purità, known for its beautiful dome and intricate decorations, is another architectural gem that should not be missed.


For those interested in history, a visit to the Gallipoli Fish Museum is highly recommended. Housed in a former tuna processing plant, the museum showcases the town’s fishing traditions and the importance of the sea in shaping its identity. The museum features informative exhibits and displays that provide insight into the fishing industry and its impact on the local community.


One of the highlights of Gallipoli is its stunning coastline and pristine beaches. Baia Verde, nestled just outside the town, is a popular beach destination known for its clear waters and golden sands. Those seeking a more secluded beach experience can venture to Punta della Suina, a hidden gem with crystal-clear waters and breathtaking views.


Food enthusiasts will delight in the culinary offerings of Gallipoli. The town is known for its fresh seafood, and dining at one of the local seafood restaurants is a must. Be sure to try the local specialties, such as orecchiette pasta with seafood or the famous “friselle,” a traditional hard bread soaked in water and topped with tomatoes, olive oil, and local herbs.


In addition to its historical and natural attractions, Gallipoli also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. The Notte della Taranta, a music festival celebrating traditional Puglian music and dance, attracts visitors from far and wide. Additionally, the Summer Carnival, held in August, is a lively event filled with colorful parades, music, and fireworks.


Gallipoli holds a special charm that captivates visitors with its historical wonders, natural beauty, and vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re exploring the ancient streets of the old town, lounging on the pristine beaches, or indulging in the local cuisine, Gallipoli promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.


Old Town of Gallipoli

The old town of Gallipoli, known as the “Città Vecchia,” is a captivating destination that transports visitors back in time. Enclosed within impressive 16th-century defensive walls, this historic quarter is a maze of narrow streets, ancient buildings, and charming squares that exude a unique and enchanting ambiance.


As you enter the old town, you are greeted by a breathtaking view of the sea and the picturesque harbor. The warm-toned whitewashed buildings, adorned with colorful flowers, create a postcard-perfect setting that beckons exploration. Walking through the intricate network of alleys, visitors are transported to a different era, where history and culture intertwine.


One of the main attractions within the old town is the imposing Angevin Castle. Dating back to the 13th century, this fortress stands as a reminder of Gallipoli’s strategic importance throughout history. Visitors can explore its ancient walls and towers, enjoying panoramic views of the town and the surrounding sea.


The old town of Gallipoli is also home to several beautiful churches, each with its own unique story and architectural style. The Cathedral of Sant’Agata, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, features an intricately decorated facade and a stunning interior adorned with frescoes and marble details.


Another architectural gem is the Church of Santa Maria della Purità, known for its beautiful dome and intricate decorations. Inside, visitors can admire the richly decorated altar and the elegant Baroque-style artworks that adorn the walls.


While roaming the old town, you’ll stumble upon charming squares and bustling piazzas where locals gather for leisurely conversations and vibrant events. Piazza Aldo Moro, the main square, is a lively hub featuring cafes, restaurants, and shops. It is the perfect spot for savoring a cup of espresso, people-watching, and immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere.


As you explore the old town, don’t miss the opportunity to browse the local shops and boutiques. Here you’ll find a variety of unique items, including handmade crafts, locally produced ceramics, and traditional Puglian products. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or indulge in some retail therapy.


Visiting the old town of Gallipoli is like stepping into a different world, where history and modernity coexist harmoniously. The well-preserved architecture, combined with the vibrant atmosphere and the warmth of the locals, creates an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re strolling through its ancient streets, visiting historical landmarks, or simply immersing yourself in the charm of the surroundings, the old town of Gallipoli is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Beaches in Gallipoli

Gallipoli is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, which draw visitors from near and far with their pristine beauty and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re seeking a lively seaside experience or a secluded spot to unwind, Gallipoli offers a diverse array of beach options to suit every preference.


One of the most popular beach areas near Gallipoli is Baia Verde. Located just a short distance from the town center, Baia Verde boasts long stretches of soft sandy beaches interspersed with vibrant beach clubs and seaside bars. This lively area is perfect for those seeking a vibrant beach atmosphere, where you can enjoy music, water sports, and socialize with fellow beachgoers.


If you prefer a quieter beach experience, Punta della Suina is a hidden gem worth exploring. This secluded cove is tucked away in the natural reserve of Punta Pizzo, surrounded by lush vegetation and rocky cliffs. Punta della Suina offers tranquility and serenity, with its crystalline turquoise waters and peaceful atmosphere.


Heading north from Gallipoli, you’ll find Rivabella, another popular destination for beach lovers. Rivabella offers a mix of sandy beaches and rocky coves, perfect for both sunbathing and snorkeling. The calm and shallow waters make it a family-friendly option, and there are plenty of beachfront eateries where you can enjoy a delicious meal with a view.


If you’re willing to venture a bit further, the stunning beaches of Torre Lapillo and Porto Cesareo are well worth the trip. These pristine stretches of sand with turquoise waters are considered some of the best in the region. With their Caribbean-like beauty, they attract visitors who are eager to relax and soak up the sun in a natural paradise.


No matter which beach you choose, you’ll find that the waters of Gallipoli are incredibly clear and inviting. The beaches are well-maintained and often equipped with amenities such as sun loungers, umbrellas, and beach bars where you can grab a refreshing drink or a quick snack.


For those seeking a bit of adventure, Gallipoli is an excellent spot for water sports. From paddleboarding and kayaking to jet skiing and windsurfing, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained and make the most of the coastal setting.


Whether you’re in search of a busy beach with a lively atmosphere or a serene spot to relax and unwind, Gallipoli offers a spectrum of options to cater to every preference. With its stunning beaches and inviting waters, this charming coastal town is a true haven for beach lovers.


Local Cuisine and Dining Options

Gallipoli, Italy, is not only a visual feast but a culinary delight as well. The town’s cuisine is deeply rooted in its coastal location, with an abundance of fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients taking center stage in many traditional dishes. Dining in Gallipoli is a delightful experience that allows you to savor the authentic flavors of the region.


When it comes to seafood, Gallipoli does not disappoint. From succulent prawns to tender octopus and flavorful fish, the variety and quality of seafood in this coastal town are exceptional. Try dishes like frittura di paranza, a selection of fried small fish, or the famous zuppa di pesce, a rich fish soup filled with an assortment of seafood.


One of the must-try specialties in Gallipoli is the orecchiette pasta, a type of pasta shaped like small ears. This pasta is often served with seafood, giving you a taste of the flavors of the sea in every bite. Another local favorite is the famous friselle, a type of hard bread that is soaked in water and topped with juicy tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and local herbs. It is a refreshing and flavorful dish perfect for a hot summer day.


Gallipoli is also renowned for its olive oil production, as the region boasts some of the finest olive groves in Italy. The local olive oil adds a distinctive and rich flavor to many dishes, enhancing their taste and elevating the dining experience.


When it comes to dining options, Gallipoli has a wide range of choices to suit every palate and budget. The town is dotted with traditional trattorias and family-run restaurants, where you can enjoy hearty and authentic Puglian cuisine in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. These establishments often pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients and preserving traditional cooking techniques.


If you’re seeking a more upscale dining experience, Gallipoli also offers fine dining restaurants that provide a refined take on regional cuisine. These establishments often offer innovative and beautifully presented dishes that showcase the culinary talents of the chefs.


Don’t forget to explore the local markets in Gallipoli, where you can find an array of fresh produce, cheeses, and cured meats. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up some local specialties and ingredients to enjoy at your own leisure.


One thing is for certain – no visit to Gallipoli is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. From the flavors of the sea to the rich and hearty traditional dishes, Gallipoli offers a delightful culinary journey that will leave you craving for more.


Accommodation in Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Italy, offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious seaside resort or a cozy bed and breakfast in the heart of the old town, Gallipoli has something to offer for every budget and style.


For those looking for a touch of luxury, there are several upscale hotels and resorts located along the coastline. These establishments provide top-notch amenities, stunning sea views, and often have their private beach areas. You can lounge by the pool, pamper yourself with spa treatments, and indulge in delicious cuisine without ever leaving the comfort of your hotel.


If you prefer a more intimate and authentic experience, consider staying in one of the many charming guesthouses or bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the old town. These accommodations often feature traditional architecture and provide a cozy and inviting atmosphere. You can immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy warm hospitality from the owners. Some of these establishments offer picturesque rooftop terraces where you can enjoy panoramic views of the town.


For budget-conscious travelers, there are also budget-friendly hotels and hostels available in and around Gallipoli. These accommodations provide comfortable rooms and essential amenities at affordable prices, allowing you to make the most of your stay without breaking the bank.


A unique accommodation option in Gallipoli is to rent a private villa or apartment. This is a great choice for families or larger groups who prefer to have their own space and freedom. Renting a villa provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community, shop at the nearby markets, and enjoy home-cooked meals using fresh local ingredients.


When choosing your accommodation in Gallipoli, consider the location that best suits your interests. If you want to spend your days lounging on the beach, look for accommodations near the coast. If you’re more interested in exploring the historical sites and immersing yourself in the old town’s charm, opt for a centrally located hotel.


Regardless of where you stay, you’ll find that Gallipoli’s accommodations reflect the town’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. The locals take pride in providing exceptional hospitality, making your stay in Gallipoli even more memorable.


Whether you’re seeking luxury, authenticity, or affordability, you’ll find a variety of accommodation options to choose from in Gallipoli. Start planning your stay in this charming coastal town and prepare to be immersed in its beauty, history, and warm hospitality.


Getting to Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Italy, is well-connected and easily accessible, making it a convenient destination for travelers from both within Italy and abroad. Whether you prefer to travel by air, train, or car, there are various options available to reach this charming coastal town.


For international travelers, the nearest airport to Gallipoli is Brindisi Airport (BDS), located approximately 85 kilometers away. Brindisi Airport serves several domestic and international flights, making it a convenient gateway to the region. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Gallipoli, which is about an hour’s drive away.


If you prefer to travel by train, Gallipoli has its own train station, Gallipoli-Città, which offers connections to major cities in Italy. Regular train services operate from cities such as Bari, Lecce, and Brindisi, providing convenient access to Gallipoli. From the train station, you can take a taxi or a local bus to reach your desired accommodation in the town.


For those who enjoy road trips, Gallipoli is easily accessible by car. The town is located along the SS101 and SS274 state highways, which connect to the major road networks in the region. The journey to Gallipoli by car allows you to enjoy the scenic landscapes of Apulia at your own pace. It’s worth noting that parking within the narrow streets of the old town can be challenging, so it’s advisable to check with your accommodation for parking options or utilize public parking areas nearby.


Within Gallipoli, getting around the town is best done on foot. The old town is pedestrian-friendly, with its narrow streets and alleys inviting leisurely strolls. Exploring the town on foot allows you to fully appreciate its historical charm and discover hidden gems along the way.


If you wish to explore the surrounding areas or visit nearby beaches, renting a car or a scooter is a convenient option. Car rental services are available in Gallipoli, allowing you the flexibility to venture beyond the town and discover the beauty of Apulia’s coastline.


With its accessible transportation options, reaching Gallipoli is relatively straightforward, regardless of your preferred mode of travel. Whether you arrive by air, train, or car, you’ll find yourself enchanted by the historic charm, stunning beaches, and warm hospitality that Gallipoli has to offer.


Tips for Exploring Gallipoli

Exploring Gallipoli, Italy, is a delightful experience filled with historical treasures, natural beauty, and culinary delights. To make the most of your visit, here are some helpful tips to enhance your exploration of this charming coastal town:

  • Get lost in the old town: The narrow streets of the old town, Città Vecchia, are a maze of winding alleys and hidden squares. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly and discover the town’s hidden gems.
  • Visit during the shoulder seasons: While Gallipoli is a popular summer destination, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn. You’ll enjoy milder weather, fewer crowds, and a more authentic experience.
  • Try the local cuisine: Indulge in the flavors of Gallipoli by sampling the local seafood dishes, including the famous orecchiette pasta and friselle. Explore the local markets and try the region’s olive oil, cheeses, and other regional specialties.
  • Take a boat trip: Explore the coastline of Gallipoli by taking a boat trip. Visit nearby islands, swim in hidden coves, and enjoy panoramic views of the town from the sea. Various boat tours are available, allowing you to tailor your experience to your preferences.
  • Enjoy the beaches: Make sure to spend time relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Gallipoli. Baia Verde and Punta della Suina offer different beach experiences, so choose one that suits your preferred vibe.
  • Visit nearby attractions: Take the opportunity to explore other nearby attractions during your visit to Gallipoli. Head to Porto Selvaggio, a nature reserve with hiking trails and secluded beaches, or visit the nearby city of Lecce, known as the “Florence of the South,” for its stunning architecture.
  • Engage with the locals: Embrace the warmth and friendliness of the locals in Gallipoli. Strike up conversations, ask for recommendations, and immerse yourself in the local culture. The locals can provide valuable insights into the town’s history, traditions, and hidden gems.
  • Respect the environment: Help preserve the natural beauty of Gallipoli by being mindful of your impact on the environment. Dispose of trash responsibly, respect wildlife, and follow any guidelines or regulations in place for the protection of the town’s natural resources.
  • Take in the sunset: Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the stunning sunsets over the sea from the vantage points along the coastline. Find a spot to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views as the sun dips below the horizon.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and fulfilling experience while exploring the captivating town of Gallipoli. Immerse yourself in its history, enjoy the natural beauty, savor the local cuisine, and create lasting memories in this charming coastal gem.



Gallipoli, Italy, is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights. This charming coastal town showcases its rich heritage through its ancient architecture, picturesque old town, and historic landmarks. With its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, Gallipoli provides a serene escape where visitors can relax and immerse themselves in the tranquility of the Mediterranean.


Exploring the narrow streets of the old town, visitors can soak up the town’s fascinating history, discovering ancient churches, imposing castles, and charming squares along the way. Gallipoli’s cultural scene is vibrant, with festivals, traditional music, and art showcasing the town’s dynamic spirit.


Gallipoli’s cuisine is a gastronomic delight, with fresh seafood, traditional pastas, and delicious local produce taking center stage. Whether dining in charming trattorias or sampling street food from local vendors, visitors are treated to an authentic taste of Puglian flavors.


With its convenient transportation connections, Gallipoli is easily accessible, making it an attractive destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. From the nearby beaches and nature reserves to the historic sites and cultural events, there is something to captivate every traveler’s interest in Gallipoli.


As you explore this coastal town, you’ll be enchanted by the warm hospitality of the locals, who are proud to share their town’s history and traditions. Gallipoli invites you to immerse yourself in its charming atmosphere, bask in the natural beauty, and create lasting memories.


Whether you’re strolling through the old town’s alleys, relaxing on the beaches, savoring the local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the town’s vibrant cultural scene, Gallipoli promises a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Discover the wonders of this hidden gem, and let Gallipoli capture your heart with its history, beauty, and hospitality.