Taking its name from the Greek translation of 'beautiful city’, Gallipoli has a big reputation to live up to. A gorgeous gem of the Ionian, this is an elegant city with water running through its veins. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, wander between the fish market, where tables groan below hauls of fresh seashells, and the harbour where little boats come and go all day long. Scooters weave along the old town's tight streets, dodge them while enjoying atmospheric strolls below the dangling flowerpot-laced balconies.
Enclosed by 14th-century sea walls - and linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge - the island is dominated by Castello Angioino di Gallipoli, with its thick walls and imposing waterfront setting glaring out to sea. The grand baroque facade of the Basilica Cattedrale di Sant'Agata of 1629 stands in the centre of the old town, showcasing intricate carvings, and harbouring intense, dark paintings, and grand columns within.
These sun-blessed landscapes produce a rich bounty of flavourful olives and grapes each year. The rich liquid gold of Gallipoli's olive oil is legendary, and the city is pocked with underground olive oil factories, squeezing out the very best flavours. Puglia has a number of charming coastal towns, from the beautiful Baroque architecture of palaces and churches at Lecce, to the walled city of Otranto - which waits across the peninsular looking east. This pretty old town has a charming Medieval core, and its glowing beaches spread beside the Adriatic’s blue waters. There is dark history lurking, however, and the bones of the 813 Martyrs of Otranto - massacred during a 15th-century Ottoman invasion - are stacked in the cathedral. They have recently been canonised as the town’s patron saints.