Many of my Australian followers, upon hearing I was traveling to Gallipoli, thought of the Turkey one (Australia and Gallipoli, Turkey have a long and quite emotional history and connection). I did the same thing about 10 years ago when a friend first told me about it. She said to me: it’s all white buildings and amazing beaches. It’s the south of the south; where all the Italians spend their summers.
The first time I visited shortly after, I was unfortunately on crutches after having badly injured my ankle in Sicily a week before. Needless to say, I didn’t really get to experience it like one should.
This time was different.Of late, Gallipoli has become a Mykonos or Ibiza of sorts in that while it still attracts a mixed (predominantly Italian) crowd, it has developed a local reputation for being a party destination. Here, young Romans, Neapolitan and Milanese come to beach all day and dance all night. Oh and by beach, I mean – turn up late (early mornings are sacred after a big night out), tan and swim for a couple of hours and at about 4pm stand on your sun bed and spray prosecco everywhere as the DJ starts mixing all the big summer hits! The population of Gallipoli is about 20,000, but in summer it inflates to around 250,000! Located in the Salento region of Puglia, it has historically been a fishing village and once even a part of Greece. Some locals, especially the elderly (many of whom you’ll see hanging their washing or as you walk past their houses in the historical centre which in spite of the partying crowd, remains quite humble and residential!) seem dumbfounded by the tourism boom that Gallipoli has seen in the last decade. And with international DJs (like David Guetta who we saw while in town) setting their sites on it, one can only predict there’s more to come!
Here are my tips on where to eat and drink in this most gorgeous town on the Salento coast.
Family-run and casual homestyle food. Start off with some fried treats and then go for the seafood primi like spaghetti alle vongole (clams) or the classic Barese orecchiette with cime di rapa (turnip tops from the broccoli family of greens). Via Antonio Galateo 8, ph: +39 349 341 3578.La Puritate
Listed as a recommended option in the Michelin Guide, La Puritate is your fancier Gallipoli dinner. Not too fancy or stuffy but it’s a restaurant and not your casual fish trattoria. Dinner must be booked and they offer an 8pm or 10pm sitting. The decor is olde world nautical with a lot of dark wood and quasi port hole windows. Order the mixed antipasto and they will bring out plate after plate of seafood delicacies from tuna tartare to octopus salad. Silocco
Gallipoli is a fishing village so as you can imagine, the role of the fish monger (pescheria) reigns king. Many are dotted along the port area and along the water, sits Silocco. You walk in and pick your fish at the counter, you pay, they cook, you eat! The grilled scampi here were some of the best of my summer.
A large fish osteria, don’t eat at Osteria Briganti if seafood ain’t your thing. Start off with the mixed crudi – a tris of tartare of whatever’s fresh from tuna to salmon to amberjack. The scampi risotto is creamy, the sautée of mussels is to die for and take your pick of whatever fish has just been delivered – filleted or whole, baked or pan fried; whichever, you choose! Blanc
Blanc is a boho chic bar with all mismatched furniture and white walls (you know the kind!) and has this secret courtyard set within the high concrete walls of an old church. I loved both my Hugo and Grasshopper cocktails here and they have a great snack and dinner menu too. In the evenings, a DJ plays hip tunes and it attracts a classy younger crowd.Spaghettata in barca
On the national ferragosto holiday where people were fighting for some sand to drop their towel, we escaped to the seas! We chose to do a spaghettata in barca (a sailing spaghetti lunch). For €30 we got to sail the coast of baia verde, swim in the crystal seas and feast on fresh seafood spaghetti. Best way to spend a day! (Runs from 10am-2pm and bookings can be made through this company. Stay: Palazzo B&B Zacheo
We loved our 2 bedroom apartment with frescoes on the high ceilings, a fully equipped kitchenette and a balcony at Palazzo Zacheo. There are only a few apartments here which makes it a nice escape from the crowds, even though it’s positioned right in the historical centre.
Ahh Gallipoli – perhaps not in August! – but I’ll be back.
Signing off from Trastevere