Baloui

Italy

Gallipoli

The old town of Gallipoli is located on a limestone island

Gallipoli was on top of our itinerary for Southern Italy last year, because of its seaside location, the beautiful old town and the city beach, which makes it possible to get the best of both worlds. Of course, it is also known for its abundance of outstanding, unpretentious restaurants with lots of seafood on the menu…which was definitely something that drew us there as well.

It is located on the westside of Italy’s “heel” by the Ionian Sea within the Province of Lecce and only a short drive from Lecce itself. We traveled by car from Lecce and it took about 45 minutes to get to Gallipoli.

The city is divided in to two – the modern and the old town. The old town is a picturesque little town located on a limestone island which is connected to the mainland by a bridge built in the 16th century.

It is worth knowing, that only residents are allowed to drive their cars in the old town. You risk getting heavily fined if you venture across the bridge in a car. There is a parking lot by the harbor, where you can park for free (pay attention, there is also a paid parking zone in the same place) and walk into the old city.

There is a quite large golden shored beach called Spiaggia delle Purita next to the local harbor, which we used every day. The water is clear and the beach is very clean for a city beach and it was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel.

Spiaggia della Purita, Gallipoli

Where to stay

Palazzo Presta, Via Garibaldi 29, 73014 Gallipoli, Lecce, Italy.

Website: https://www.palazzopresta.it/

The “Souk” suite at Palazzo Presta

Palazzo Presta lies in the heart of the historic center of the old town down a couple of narrow streets. You might easily miss the door, so keep your eyes peeled for the brass sign saying “Palazzo Presta”.

The Palazzo is a quirky mix of different styles, giving the impression that the owner has travelled to many different parts of the world and decorated the rooms accordingly. It seemed a little odd at first, but it is done in a very stylish way and somehow the entire mix of globetrotter styles works out really well. There are 10 suites in the palazzo. Each room has been decorated in a different style – ours was named “souk”.

Detail from the suite

The real gem is the roof terrace. It has panoramic views over the city and is a lovely place to relax during the day. In the morning they serve breakfast on the terrace; fruit, vegetables, cereals, eggs cooked as you like them and really good coffee. In the evening you can order a drink by the bar and enjoy the sunset and play cards.

They also have a small library next door, which turns into a little speak easy at night, if you need a little nightcap on the way home.

The reception at Palazzo Presta
The roof terrace
The roof terrace
Ready for breakfast
Fortunately they serve really good coffee

Where to eat

The friendly concierge at the hotel recommended a very good fish reataurant and kindly called in advance to make a reservation for us.

L’Angolo Blu, Via Muzio 45, 73014 Gallipoli, Phone: 0833 261500

Website: https://www.langoloblutrattoria.it/

L’Angolo Blu did not disappoint. The service was warm and welcoming even though they did not speak much English. The fish was fresh and the waiter talked us out of our safe choices (tuna and sword fish) and persuaded us to try a special catch, they were serving that particular day. I have never seen the fish or heard the name before, but it was absolutely delicious. The meat firm, but buttery and cooked to perfaction. We actually came back the second evening to try the swordfish and the boys had the fritto mixta which was fresh and light and very tasty.

The town was celebrating their local Madonna and when the procession walked by, the waiter kindly asked us, if we wanted to go see it – which we did, of course. The parade was lead by a man with two large ostrich feathers on a pole! Then came the procession carrying a statue of the virgin Mary. It seemed like the entire city was out celebrating and every possible authority dressed up in their galla uniform and partaking in the parade.

Fantastic seabass served at L’Angolo Blu

Pescheria La Lampara, Via Incrociata 10/12,73014 Gallipoli (LE),+39 0833 261939

Website:https://www.lalamparagallipoli.it/en/

Fresh fish of the day cooked to your liking

We only tried La Lampara for lunch, but it was a very small lovely fish restaurant, with lots of fresh fish to choose from and a very Greek vibe. They also have a fish shop in the local fishmarket, where you can order light meals and white wine.

Grilled swordfish

What to do

Just wandering the narrow streets past the old people, who are chatting outside their homes, to baroque courtyards and small squares is an experience in itself. Everything is within walking distance, so take your time.

Details from an old baroque palazzo

The Spiaggia della Purita is the lovely city beach. In the afternoon it fills up with local families. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, the part towards the harbour is more sandy and also more popular. Come early if you want to get a spot there. In the other end the sand is a bit more coarse and  there are not that many people.

A part of the town beach, Spiaggia della Purita

Gallipoli was also one of the ports from which the Italians shipped their olive oil in the old days. And for that purpose they have dug old olive mills deep in the sandstone below the city – you can visit some of them for a small fee. The pits made for storing oil in the old days were deep and illuminated by red light. It felt a bit like descending in to Dantes inferno.

Pit for storing olive oil.

Gallipoli also has a small fortress dating back from the 13th century and a beautiful 17th century cathedral, “Cattedrale di Sant’Agata”. You can sit in the small square and enjoy an icecream from the nearby gelateria, while watching one of the men weaving something we guessed were nets or cages to catch lobsters.

Clock tower next to the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata
Keeping the craftmansship alive
For the lobsters?

Next to the harbor is the local fish market, where the fishermen sell the catch of the day. There are also a few places selling cooked food, but you have to get there early.

Local fishermen with the catch of the day

Where to find the best gelato in Rome

Hunting for the best gelato in Rome is serious business – or a wonderful pastime, while you’re looking at The Fountain of The Four Rivers on Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, Forum Romanum or The Trevi Fountain.
We found that it was the perfect fuel for the two boys, while we were slowly wandering the streets of Rome and taking in the sights. Whenever someone was too tired or needed a break there was always a gelateria nearby. So we have tested and eaten a lot (A LOT) of ice cream to find the best of the best in Rome. Here is our top list:

1. Frigidarium, Via del Governo Vecchio, 112, 00186 Roma

The best liqurizia gelato in all of Rome

Frigidarium delivers – hands down – the best gelato in all of Rome. We walked by on our way to Castel Sant Angelo and saw the long line of local Romans patiently waiting to get their ice cream. So we decided to join the queue. It was well worth the wait, because the ice cream was freshly made and tasted divine. Both my son and I love liquorizia and when the kind lady behind the counter saw the disappointment in our faces, when we discovered they were out of our favourite icecream, she ran out the back to get another batch fresh out of the freezer. The full taste of raw licorice melting in my mouth was divine! Other favourites were mango, strawberry, watermelon and white chocolate.

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2. Blue Ice, Via Dei Baullari, 141, 00186 Roma

Mango and strawberry at Blue Ice

Blue Ice in Via Dei Baullari was probably the gelateria we visited the most. It is right off Campo Di Fiori and we passed by so many times. So we had a go, both during the day and when we needed a little dessert in the evening, when we walked home to our apartment. The favourites here were mango, melon, liqourizia and my husbands favourite: Amarena with wild cherries and tiramisu

3. Origini gelateria, Via del Gesù, 73a, 00186 Roma

Origini – organic gelato

Origini Gelataria was a little gem, which we found after a visit to the Pantheon. We walked by our favourite Bernini sculpture, the elephant obelisk, in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and 200 meters up the street we found Origini and decided it was time for a break.

It is a wonderful little gelateria, with colorful tiles as decoration and most of the gelato is organically produced. The flavors are very clean and natural, which we very much enjoyed. The strawberry and melon were a big hit and tasted deliciously natural. Very refreshing ice cream to enjoy in the heat.

Punto Gelato

4. Punto Gelato (Günther), Via dei Pettinari, 43, 00186 Roma 
We came across Punto Gelato on our evening stroll. There is a very good selection of many flavors and it is usually open until midnight on most days. The ice cream is produced on site. The favorites here were strawberry, fig, pesca and vanilla. We did not try their special “cioccolato extra fondente”, which is made of 75% cocoa from Venezuela. But we will absolutely give it a go the next time we are in the neighborhood

5. Il Baretto Rome, Via della Conciliazione, 6/8, 00193 Roma

Il Baretto is not the most charming of places, but the location is perfect. It is right on the long sweltering walk to Saint Peters square and we passed just in time to prevent a rebellion. They have a wide selection of flavours ranging from the classic pistacchio to limone and cioccolato. However, the boys went with the safe choice of strawberry and pesca, which was good enough to cool them right down again.

Il Baretto Rome

Il Baretto is also a café with a nice selection of pizzas and sandwiches to eat at the café or grab and go. And it has a toilet. So all in all a good pitstop on our way to the Vatican City and Saint Peters Church.

Montepulciano

Caffé Poliziano

Via di Voltaia nel Corso, 27-29, Montepulciano. http://www.caffepoliziano.it

It is no secret, that I love cafés and coffee – mostly because it means a break from the everyday, the journey, the treadmill etc. One of the most spectacular coffehouses, that I have ever visited, is Caffé Poliziano in Montepulciano. It oozes art nouveau and 1920’s charm. There are also two balconies, where you can enjoy your cake, coffe or drinks with a view of the Valdichiana valley – quite spectacular.