Just before crossing the BRIDGE (built in stone in the 1600’s and made of twelve arches), which is the only way of access A TOUR IN GALLIPOLI to the old town, you can see THE GREEK FOUNTAIN believed to be the oldest fountain in Italy; it was built in local carparo stone and restored in 1560. It represents the metamorphosis of Dirce, Salmace and Biblide contained in 4 caryatids. The above engraved couplets warn people to resist crazed physical desires. The triangular fastigium, built later, contains the Philip of Spain and the town coats-of-arms.
THE OLD CITY CENTRE
It is surrounded by walls and characterized by a network of streets, alleys and courtyards marked out along the walls of the houses built in calc-tufa supporting ‘mignani’, balconies and loggias. All roads lead to the extramural street ( a circular street called the Riviera) which rings the residential area. So the best way of discovering the real nature of Gallipoli is to wander its picturesque streets.
Before crossing the Bridge you can admire The Church of S.Maria del Canneto ( built in an area which was originally marshland where fishermen discovered an icon of the Madonna amongst the reeds; inside there is an octagonal lacquered ceiling and a painting of the Madonna del Canneto ) and The Chapel of S.Cristina ( a very important church for the devotion of the saint who stopped a cholera epidemic).
After crossing the Bridge (“Porta Terra”), on the left there is THE CASTLE, a square shaped castle with four towers at each corner. Originally a Byzantine fortress, it was enlarged by the Aragonese and the Spanish. In the 16th century the RIVELLINO was built (an advanced fortification which was connected to the fortress by a drawbridge).
Turning left at the entrance to the old town and taking the 2nd turning on the right into Via Antonietta De Pace you can see Il Palazzo Del Seminario built in 1751 and SAINT AGATHA CATHEDRAL , built in carparo stone in 1629 by G.Zimbalo. The outside of the Cathedral is an impressive example of Baroque architecture; on its façade there are the niches of Saint Sebastian and Fausto, the statues of S. Irene in the middle and S. Marina and S. Teresa on its sides; on its side pinnacles there are busts of S. Giovanni Crisostomo and S. Agostino ; the interior is full of paintings which depict St. Agatha and S. Sebastian ( the Patron Saints of Gallipoli), the Adoration of the Magi and the Miracle of S.Francesco di Paola. The altar is made of marble with mother of pearl decorations and 51 stalls in walnut form the choir area.
Proceeding along Via A. De Pace you’ll find the CIVIC MUSEUM on the right established in 1878 following the donation by Prof. Emanuele Barba, a famous naturalist from Gallipoli. It is specialised in natural sciences and has a large collection of relics, vases, shells, coins, the skeleton of a whale and two Messapian sarcophaguses.
Almost opposite the Museum there is THE OIL MILL: it is a well preserved oil mill under Granafei’s Palace: tours in English and Italian describe the process of extracting oil from olives for illumination purposes.
Continuing along Via A. De Pace into Via Briganti and running right into the Riviera ( the coastal road) there is THE CHURCH OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI. Built in the beginning of the 13th century, it’s well known for its chapel “ Del Crocefisso” where the Crucifixion is represented with both the good and bad thieves, the latter being known as “ il mal ladrone”.
Continuing along the Riviera you will find THE CHURCH OF PURITY, in Via Nazario Sauro, and built in the middle of the 17th century. It is well known for its paper machè statue of St. Christine(another patron saint of Gallipoli) and its majolica tiles on the floor; the church was dedicated to the porters of oil who worked at the port of Gallipoli.
Churches that deserve to be visited are also The Church of S.Francesco da Paola ( with precious altars in true Baroque style, in carparo stone and wood, embellished with famous paintings).The Church of S.Maria della Purità (whose façade has a majolica triptych depicting ‘La Vergine con il Bambino’), The Church of S.Maria degli Angeli (with precious paintings and statues), The Church of SS. Crocefisso (whose high altar is decorated with glass pearls from Murano : it contains the sacred sculpture of the dead Christ which is carried in the procession of “L’Urnia” around the entire town on Good Friday), The Church delle Anime ( embellished with stucco decorations and the beautiful tiled majolica flooring); The Church del Carmine (you can admire the monolithic dell’Immacolata in high-relief and produced in Leccese stone); the Church of St.Teresa (containing the tomb of its founder, the bishop Antonio Perez De La Lastra and a convent where the sisters live in permanent reclusion), The Church of St.Domenico and the Virgin of the Rosary (with the Altar of S.Domenico- about 6m high- in wood and painted in pure gold).
Among the various palace we remember Palazzo Balsamo and Palazzo Pirelli (both built in the 16th century), Palazzo Granafei of Spanish origin; Palazzo Munittola and Palazzo Muzy in Via Micetti (with a coat-of-arms which reminds to Muzio Scevola); Palazzo D’Ospina ( with a façade in Venetian plaster).In Via Monacelle there is Palazzo Senape De Pace(in Baroque style); nearby you can see Palazzo Venneri (today known as Palazzo Fedele) and Palazzo Tafuri in the street of the same name.
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