Gallipoli was founded by Greek settlers and until today the Greek dialect Griko is spoken here. It is located on an island connected with a bridge to the mainland. Specialising in olive oil, it became the largest olive oil market in the Mediterranean. Olive oil mills can still be found in many old houses.
We came past this church on our way to the old town at Corso Roma, the main street of Gallipoli. It was built between 1929 and 1943 with a facade covered in travertine in a modern style. All the more amazes the interior with its grandeur and large proportions. It is a basilica-like structure with three naves, an apse and sculptural elements in Lecce stone. A very surprising church, definitely worth a visit.
In ancient times, Gallipoli was a city of the Greater Greece, or Magna Graecia. Greek settlers arrived at the coastal areas of Southern Italy from the 8th century BC.
In 265 BC, Gallipoli sided with the town of Taranto against ancient Rome, suffering a defeat which relegated it to a Roman colony.
In the early Middle Ages, it was most likely sacked by the Vandals and the Goths. Rebuilt by the Byzantines, Gallipoli lived an economically and socially flourishing period due to its geographical position. Later it was owned by the Roman Popes, and was a centre of fighting against the Greek monastic orders.
In the 11th century, Gallipoli was conquered by the Normans. King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies started the construction of the port, which in the 18th century became the largest olive oil market in the Mediterranean.
The baroque Cathedral of Sant’Agata from the 17th century is momentarily getting renovated at the exterior, therefore we didn’t see anything of the baroque façade. The interior is also richly decorated, and especially the high altar was impressive.
Where the fishermen sell their catch of the day, a small restaurant looked enticing. You select the fresh fish & seafood from the stall, and it will be prepared for you.
We are now on the way to Taranto, the town between two seas. But first we want to explore more of the coast. More on our next post!