Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Going to Gallipoli

The Train to Gallipoli
This area of Italy is really not that wide, and although Lecce is close to the western coast, an hour train ride will get you to the East coast, so we decided to take a train and visit Gallipoli.

Castello di Gallipoli
The Italian train system is a good one, the trains get you almost anywhere you want to go, and they appear to run on time. There is a big difference however between the big shiny inter-city trains and the local trains. The intercity trains are long, clean, shiny and fast. The local trains are only two cars long, grubby and not so fast. Yup, it was a local train that was taking us to Gallipoli.

No Wonder the seafood is good!
Gallipoli is a town that was originally completely on an island just a short distance from the coast. Of course the town has spread, and now the island is connected by a convenient bridge, and the train station is a short walk from the old town.

Crossing the bridge, you are confronted with an imposing fortress, obviously needed to protect the town; so vulnerable to invasion by those troublesome Turks of old. In fact the entire old town is built on a raised sea wall which surrounds it all. We started our self-guided tour by walking the perimeter, following the wall around the city as we looked for a place to eat. We had been told that the seafood was amazing in Gallipoli, so we wanted to sample some.
Wandering the streets of Gallipoli
Not sure what this is about
Finding a restaurant suggested by our guide the previous day, we stopped and examined the menu. It looked delicious, but when we requested a table we were ushered to one by the back door. We said we wanted a table out front by the ocean, but were told the were all "full". When I pointed out that the restaurant was completely empty, he pointed to his watch, indicating that it was 1:50 pm. I had forgotten about that 2:00 to 4:00 thing again. Now I know what everyone does during their "break"; reserve the best tables in town. A bit annoyed, we elected to try elsewhere.
Once you leave the sea wall walk, the town is much like the other small town in the area, with narrow winding streets and whitewashed stone buildings. We were a bit disappointed that none of the churches were open, but, it was Easter Weekend and many places were closed.
The castle however was open, and we spent an hour or so exploring this attraction. The castle/Fort has been partially restored, although in some places it was very confusing, and one spot had a display about a gate and chain bridge, but it was difficult to even picture this in its present configuration. Unlike the castle in Bari, which we were disappointed in because so much of it was closed or blocked off, here we were free to explore much of the old castle.
A fort colliding with a castle

Arriving back at the train station for the ride home to Lecce, we were pleasantly surprised to find a sleek red modern train waiting, but part way home we were told we would have to change trains, and at that point we were shuffled back onto the little local train, which was already mostly full with a wide variety of passengers, from a Justin Bieber "wannabe", young girls dressed for a night on the town, or a friendly group of North African street vendors, one of whom got off at each town. The last of them knew I was going to Lecce, and made a point of telling me that my stop had come, for at that point it was dark, and you could hardly see out of the grimy windows to see the dimly lit station platforms. 


  1. My brother, the linguist. In this and the following posts, the names of the towns differ in the title to what is mentioned in the main text. I had to go Google them to find out the real spelling!

  2. Stop that . . . you know I never could spell . . .