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Walking through Gallipoli’s fishermen village feels like you’re walking ‘under the sea’ as Sebastian from The Little Mermaid would say. Surrounded by pristine, almost transparent waters and stores rich in natural sea sponges, a day in Gallipoli feels otherworldly.

After a morning spent lazily napping, reading, and lounging by the cold, glistening pool at Masseria Bernardini, my mother and I decided to head out and explore one of the many nearby towns in Salento. After researching the long list of things to do in Gallipoli, we decided to spend the day in Gallipoli, Apulia, exploring the streets and grabbing lunch before heading to nearby beaches. As we neared the historic city center of Gallipoli, I noticed that the old 14th century defensive walls that still surround it could hardly contain the island’s marine-like vibrancy. The energy of the fishermen village spilled over the walls, into the Ionian Sea, into the fishermen boats, and across the sea to the mainland. I could feel a warm Salentino welcome overcoming me.

Like much of Puglia, Gallipoli’s name comes from its historical Greek origins. Gallipoli meaning “beautiful city” in Greek. Gallipoli, Puglia is not to be confused with Gallipoli, Turkey–the site of the disastrous 1st World War battle. This seaside village is far from a WWI zone, in fact, it was an ancient port on the Ionian Sea. The island is connected to mainland by a 17th century bridge. We parked our car outside the historic district and walked across the bridge. In the mornings you can attend the famous mercato del pesce, fish market, frequented by both tourists and fishermen alike. It’s one of the few pastimes that has been conserved over the years and gives you a true inside look into the local Gallipoli culture.

Local Tip: Park your car outside the historic city center

Park your car outside the historic center. Only locals are allowed inside the historic center and you can get fined for accidentally parking or driving through it.

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Get Around

What you’ll find in this article:

  1. Shop Antica Sartoria
  2. Piazza Duomo
  3. Basilica Concattedrale di S. Agata Vergine
  4. Shop Souvenir: Natural Sea Sponge
  5. Wander the Streets
  6. Spiaggia della Purita


  1. La Frascera; Eat: Frisa
  2. Gran Caffè dello Sport; Drink: Caffe Leccese and Granita

Gallipoli Itinerary Map
How To Get Around Gallipoli

Where to Shop: Antica Sartoria

We immediately dove head first into the labyrinth-like cobblestone streets of Gallipoli. Shopping is one of the best things to do in Gallipoli. We wanted to peruse some of the local stores before they all closed for lunch time. Luckily, we caught the guy working at Antica Sartoria right as he was heading out for his lunch break. He decided to let us browse (which always turns into shopping when at Antica Sartoria) a bit before closing up shop for the afternoon.

Born in Positano, Italy, Antica Sartoria is a very famous and well-established brand. The concept of the clothing started in the early 1960s. City folks who would come to Positano were never dressed appropriately for the hot and sunny weather. So local traders began to produce one-of-a-kind fashion garments with these city folks in mind so that when they arrived, they could purchase all their necessities. What made their clothing so particular is that it was made using linen, hand-embroidered towels and sheets from traditional wedding kits, crochet, and bobbing. The look was a clean, elegant, laidback, yet refined seaside look made my masterful craftsmen. The clothing was made famous by Giacomo Cinque who started the Antica Sartoria brand and still preserves this “Positano” look to this day.

I left the store with the colorful, patterned viscose pants featured above and a crop top quarter sleeve shirt. Each with the patterns and embroidery, or pizzo in Italian, that Antica Sartoria is known for. Since it was an outlet shop and there were discounts going on, I left with the two items for just around 70-80 euro. Not a bad bargain if you ask me!

Piazza Duomo and Basilica Concattedrale di S. Agata Vergine

Piazza Duomo wraps around, of course like all Italian piazzas, a religious structure, in this case the Basilica Concattedrale di S. Agata Vergine. Because of its historical and artistic importance, Pope Pius III declared it a basilica in the 1940s. From the outside, the 17th century basilica with its yellow tinted stone elaborated into baroque architecture is truly stunning.

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Do you know the difference between a chapel, church, cathedral, and basilica?

Do you know the difference between a chapel, church, cathedral, and basilica?

What’s the difference between a chapel, church, cathedral, and basilica?

– A chapel is a place of worship that does not have a priest or pastor
– A church is a place of worship that has a priest or pastor
– A cathedral is a place of worship that is run by a bishop
– A basilica is classified into two types: major and minor. A major basilica is one of the four personal churches of the pope and are in and around Rome. A minor basilica is a place of worship located anywhere around the world that the pope has deemed sacred due to a historical occurrence, spiritual significance, or architectural importance. Any chapel or church can also be a basilica.

In this case, the basilica in Gallipoli is a minor Basilica.

What to Shop, Souvenirs: Natural Sea Sponges

Shop in Gallipoli, Puglia: What to Take Home

Did you know that Gallipoli is known among some as the historical village of natural sea sponges? Being a fishermen’s village, a lot of the local souvenirs specialize in marine objects such as shells, star fish, corals, lamps and other artisanal products to take home, and of course, the typical terracotta dolls made by hand that represent the massaie salentine.

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Wander the Streets

Walking through Gallipoli feels like your walking ‘under the sea’ as Sebastian from The Little Mermaid would say. Weaved in at every turn are marine elements. It is the true embodiment of a fishermen town. Through the narrow cobblestone alleyways, laundry lines were strung everywhere from one window to the other. Clothes were blowing about in the breeze. Hidden amongst the laundry lines were natural sea sponges, starfish, shells of every color. Everything in Gallipoli brought you back to the sea. This place felt alive, in a calming, subtle way, like the ocean. Along the way, you’ll come across several impressive Baroque churches and aristocratic palaces that point to the understated wealth of this fishermen village as a trading port.


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Spiaggia della Purita

We let our noses guide us. We followed the strong scent of the salty sea, which brought us out of the the maze-like streets and onto the border of Gallipoli’s old walls. Spiaggia della Purita was quite a sight to behold due to it’s pristine, almost transparent water that make it look otherworldly. On a hot day, one of the many things to do in Gallipoli is go for a swim. Even in a village as bustling as Gallipoli, the beach has crystal clear waters that rival those of the Caribbean. Spiaggia della Purita boasts shimmering shades of blue, turquoise, and emerald that are enough to lure even the hardest of hearts, but just in case it isn’t, it’s prime position in the heart of historic Gallipoli with it’s restaurants, nightlife, and energy would be enough to change peoples minds.

Where to Eat: Lunch at La Frascera; What to Eat: Frisa

Where to Eat and Drink in Gallipoli, Puglia

You can’t leave without eating, one of the most important things to do in Gallipoli. La Frascera is a butcher shop, or macelleria, that also serves meals. It’s like a farm-to-table experience that allows you to truly feel confident in the local origin of your meat. My mom ordered a meat skewer and I ordered a vegetarian local Salento platter I had been eyeing for a while called Frisa.

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Where to Grab Coffee: Gran Caffè dello Sport;
What to Drink: Caffè Leccese or Granita di Caffè with Whipped Cream

Where to Eat and Drink in Gallipoli, Puglia

After lunch we took the suggestion of the local who was grilling our meats and went to Gran Caffè dello Sport. It’s right next to the 17th century bridge and within the Gallipoli castle (how cool!). We both ordered a caffè leccese, of course, but Gran Caffè dello Sport is also known for their artisanal granita di caffè or almonds with fresh whipped cream (perfect for those super hot summer days). We sat their looking down at the port and inhaled our last few deep breaths of salty fresh air before heading back to our stay at a Masseria in the town of Nardò.

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How to Get Around

You can’t drive into the historical center, so all you’ll need are your own two feet. Fortunately, it’s a small fishing village so you won’t get to tired. However to get there, you will require a car.

>> Next: Why Nardò Should Be Your Homebase When in Puglia

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