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Hotel Albergo Gallipoli Resort

The local area

Hotel a Gallipoli, Lecce

"La Città Bella" ("The Beautiful City") is located on the west coast of the Salento peninsula. The city's origins are very confused, some hypotheses argue that it was founded by the Etruscans, others speculate that it was created by Idomeneo, King of Crete, or in 389 BC by some Sicilians who had escaped the persecution of the tyrant Dionysius. 
It was a Roman municipality with the Latin name Anxa, later plundered by vandals in 456 and then passed under the domination of the empire of the East for about 517 years, where it became a Greek colony by the name of Kalè Polis (Beautiful City). The Normans conquered it in 1701, but it was then destroyed by King Charles of Anjou in 1284. Gallipoli was rebuilt at the behest of Queen Giovanna I in the thirteenth century and faced the attacks of the Turks, Venetians and those of Charles VIII, then became a Spanish stronghold until 1860, when it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
One important feature of the town is the division of its land into two distinct areas: the old town and the new town.
The streets of the historic centre are narrow and winding and date back to the first half of 900 AD, when the city was conquered by the Saracens. Gallipoli was once joined to the mainland by an isthmus, the only passage to enter the city. This passage was called Porta terra (Earth door) and was created in 1310 through the work of Robert of Anjou, son of Charles II, and later destroyed in 1887. 
In 1484 Gallipoli was occupied by the Venetians, who planned to cut the isthmus in order to increase the island's defence. This work was, however, carried out only after some years by the Aragonese, who had taken possession of the city in the meantime. Between 1601 and 1608 a bridge with twelve arches was built and even today, this bridge is the only connection point between the island and the mainland.

The charming old town, therefore, stands on a limestone island and is full of frescoes, ancient buildings and many other things that play witness to, as we have just noted, the many peoples and civilizations of the past. In fact, to cope with enemy attacks walls were erected in 1500 which were then resized in height at the end of the 1800s, providing a fantastic panorama. The historical centre's streets are dotted with beautiful Baroque palaces (such as Palazzo Balsamo, Tafuri, Senape, Pirelli and the seminary), and numerous churches and chapels, especially along the city walls.
Immediately after crossing the bridge, we encounter the last bastion of the distant past, the Greco-Roman fountain, considered the oldest in Italy, adorned with friezes and caryatids that tell the story of the metamorphosis of Dirce, Salmace of Biblide, transformed into springs. From here we enter the new village, where the transition to modernity is drastically marked by the Skyscraper. It is located at the beginning of Corso Roma, the main shopping street that divides the new village into two new parts, commonly called "sirocco and tramontana". In recent decades, Gallipoli has gone through remarkable urban development and can be considered one of the most flourishing centres of Salento and a popular tourist resort.

Gallipoli and its ports

Gallipoli has two ports, one called Porto peschereccio or Antico (Fishing or Antique port), located near the Greek Fountain, just behind the Rivellino, and a Merchant Port that borders part of the old city walls. The fishing, or ancient port, 
is the oldest and extends for about 50 metres and is used to moor fishing boats of the resident fishermen, as they fish for almost the entire year. The Merchant Port instead has an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 80,000 square metres, and is located along part of the old town, while the tourist part is along the waterfront near the Gallipoli railway station. In 1480, the port of Gallipoli was completely renovated by the Venetians and immediately passed into the hands of the Aragonese. At that time it was the reference point mainly for oil and wine trading. In 1850, after undergoing several renovations, it became the most important port on the Ionian side of Salento.

The Monuments

Among the many monuments of Gallipoli, is the Castello Angiolino, built on a pre-existing Byzantine structure. The castle was built during the Angevin rule, in fact, it dates back to the thirteenth century. It is almost completely surrounded by the sea and is located near the bridge that connects the old city with the new city. 
The first buildings of the castle were square-shaped, but upon the Aragonese's return a polygonal fence was created, with a cylindrical guard tower, precisely because its function was to protect the city, as well as possible, by the now numerous attacks of invaders. Currently the Castle has a square base, with four towers arranged at the corners. The towers are wrapped in the centre by a cordon marking the internal floor level, and the tops are adorned with small arches. During the sixteenth century the Rivellino was built, a fifth round tower, shorter and wider than the others and separated from the wall, which served a leading role in the city's defense. In 1879 the Castle became State property; inside there are large rooms with vaulted ceilings, cross vaults and many tunnels and trenches.
Another great work of art located near the bridge that connects the new city with the old town is the Greco-Roman Fountain. It is considered the oldest of Italy and scholars have placed its construction date around the third century B.C.
It was originally located in the old thermal spring area, taday more commonly called "fontanelle" (fountains), but in 1548 it was relocated to a spot near the church of St. Nicholas, which is now gone, and remained there until 1560 before finally being moved to its present location.The facade which extends toward the sirocco is divided into three parts by four caryatids that support the lintel with a rich decoration, and is about 5 metres tall. The bas-reliefs are carved from local hard-stone slabs and represent scenes of the three mythological metamorphosis of Dirce, Salmace and Biblide. The myth of Dirce is represented on the ground between two towers and a bit higher up we can note Dionysus in the moment in which he transforms her into a stone fountain. The myth of Salmace is the story of the nymph who prayed to the gods to form one body with Hermaphrodite, son of Venus and Mercury, who she was hopelessly in love with. Their bodies are represented in chains, and are transformed into a single spring in the presence of Cupid and Venus. The myth of Biblide tells the story of how she in love with her brother Cauno, but once she was rejected and became aware of the error, she wept until she was consumed by tears, and the merciless gods transformed her into a stone fountain.
On the other side we find the coat of arms of Gallipoli, an inscription in Latin and images of King Charles III of Bourbon. At the bottom of the fountain, there is still a watering hole that was once used by animals.
In the heart of the old city there is one of the most important churches from both artistic and religious viewpoints, the Cathedral of Sant'Agata. Its construction began in 1629, during the Baroque period, in the same place where there was previously a medieval church that had been destroyed in the twelfth century, passing on the devotion to the Saint that had been there since 1126.
The church's facade is made of local stone and demonstrates the typical decorative richness from the late 1600s and early 1700s when Salento was dominated by the work of the great architect and sculptor Giuseppe Zimbalo. The church has a Latin cross with three naves, with two rows of Doric columns made of carparo; instead, the main altar is made of magnificent polychrome marble, which exalts the period's magnificent forms. Kept in the display cases of the cathedral are the relics of several saints including those of San Fausto and many paintings of great value.
Not far from the solemn cathedral is the church of St. Theresa, built in the late seventeenth century. You can admire a rich altar, an eighteenth century organ with with gold decorations and an interesting canvas of Saints Augustine and Ignatius of Loyola. Also in the old town you can visit: the church of St. Francis, built in the first half of the seventeenth century, which preserves the presbyter arch decorated in gold, baroque altars in local Lecce stone and carved wood and the painting of the transit of St. Joseph behind the high altar. The old town is also home to the Church of Purity, built in 1644 thanks to the brotherhood of the longshoremen. The interior has a single nave and houses the Romanesque style high altar, with the painting of Our Lady of Purity behind it, and on the side, the organ with the chorus stage completely in masonry. Under the arches you can admire the painting of the four Evangelists and several wood and papier-mâché statues.

Gallipoli and its festivals

The city of Gallipoli, like any other self-respecting city in Salento, is full of festivities, popular beliefs, traditions, folklore, processions and folk festivals, where visitors can't help socializing and feeling part of such deep roots. 
The festivities are many, each city has its own patron saint to celebrate, and in Gallipoli they are San Sebastiano, which falls on 20 January, and Sant'Agata which falls on 4 and 5 February. In the evening the streets of the old town host a solemn procession in honour of the Saint. The procession includes all the brotherhoods of the city, whose members parade in characteristic traditional clothes and in an order that must respect seniority. The same applies to Sant'Agata, and it is said that a great vessel carrying the Saint has come, driven by the sirocco wind, to the beaches of Gallipoli. After a brief stay at the Cathedral of the city, the ship resumed sailing to the coast of Sicily, driven by the north wind. In these two days dedicated to the saint, in addition to the precession, a solemn pontifical is celebrated in the Cathedral, during which the Gospel is read in Latin and Greek.
The Carnival tradition in the city of Gallipoli is ancient, with documented evidence dating back to the early 1700s. Such was the popular spirit that from the Middle Ages to the present day, these deep folk roots have been passed on with an almost perfect adherence to their origins. This tradition has done nothing but arouse curiosity and interest from Italian and foreign scholars, who in their past and recent studies mainly try to highlight how the traditions have survived in terms of popular expression despite the elapsed centuries of city history. The event is celebrated with ostentatious and exuberant theatricality, and is a continuous interweaving of Christian beliefs and pagan rituals. Not surprisingly, a well-defined process has been followed by the people of Gallipoli since the beginning of Carnival; one testimony to this is, in fact, the rite of the fire, on 17 January, when huge piles of olive twigs are burned outdoors in different squares of the city. It is the rite of "Focareddhe" that lights up the many cross-roads of the city, dedicated to Saint Anthony Abate, the patron saint of fire. As soon as the focareddhe are lit, the sound of the Saracen tambourine opens the dances and thus triggers the euphoria that lasts until the advent of Lent. Carnival, as well, has always been a moment of unbridled euphoria for the people of Gallipoli. From the old village the parade of hundreds of masks departs, made from the poor clothes that the people had available, but also with precious silks and accessories; it was the time when all walks of life forgot their class-membership and gave birth to this great festival which then continued through to the new village until dawn.
On the evening of 17 January, Gallipoli is illuminated by bonfires sanctioning the official start of Carnival. For the people of Gallipoli, the focareddhe represent an event that can't be missed; in fact, for the occasion thin olive branches saved in pruning are used and stacked. In ancient times, the ash was considered beneficial and was spread over the wall, to appease the wrath of the sea and allow fishermen a safe return. The ancient rite was also dedicated to Sant'Antonio Abate, called "Sant'Antoni te lu focu", out of devotion to the saint, and every family offered a bundle of branches to the bonfire with great sacrifice, given the economic hardships. There are numerous festivities that the people of Gallipoli respect and celebrate assiduously and with popular traditions. After Lent and Advent, as early as 15 October, day dedicated to St. Teresa, the streets are filled with the scent of pittule (pancakes with vegetables or fish) and sweets with cinnamon and cloves. Our way of preparing for Christmas, in addition to religious rites, is with papier-mâché nativity scenes and live ones, and we especially prepare lavish feasts with these beauties. After Santa Teresa day there are still four more events: Santa Cecilia (22 November), St. Andrew (30 November), the eve of the Immaculate Virgin (7 December) and Saint Lucia (13 December). 
A festival to behold, but above all to live, as well as the Holy Easter festival, where hundreds of people and tourists from neighboring countries come to Gallipoli to see the celebration of this rite. It all begins with the procession of Good Friday, when in the evening, the statues of Our Lady of Sorrows and Dead Christ are carried in a long procession that lasts until the early hours of Holy Saturday. The procession starts from the old town and continues through all the streets of the new town, where, at dawn on Holy Saturday, the two statues meet near the reeds; a truly impressive sight.
With the arrival of summer, then, Gallipoli becomes the scene of major events and important musical events, fairs and fireworks. On 24 and 25 July there is the feast of Santa Cristina, on 10 and 15 August the infamous night of San Lorenzo and Ferragosto and so on; events that attract thousands of tourists thanks to the many concerts organised at the port of Gallipoli.

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