I always thought Gallipoli was in Turkey too; as indeed it is, but there is also one in Italy, on the inside of the heel of the boot. The information we had didn’t make it sound like a ‘bucket list’ place but we decided to go and explore.
We weighed anchor at a civilised 8.30 on Wednesday morning, leaving Ciro Marina to set off north across the Gulf of Taranto in almost calm conditions. With our nice clean hull we were making almost 6 knots on one engine! It may have cost €200 to get barnacle free but we’ll likely save that in fuel until November.
The trip was entirely uneventful and we arrived off Gallipoli at about 6 pm. We tried to anchor close to the port as we intended to go ashore in the morning but we couldn’t get the anchor to set. So we move about a half mile from the harbour where we finally found a nice sandy bottom and the anchor dug right in. And so we spent another peaceful night at anchor.
But, the following morning we had a very important appointment to keep. The 20th is Sophie’s birthday and we needed to wish her a Happy Birthday before she went to school. We’re an hour ahead here so it wasn’t like we had to be up really early like Zilda!!!
But back in Gallipoli it was time to launch the tender to go exploring, and to search for fresh fruit and veg. We ‘parked’ in one of the marinas and set off with our shopping trolley. The Old Town was built inside a fortified island headland connected to the main land by a 16th century bridge and guarded by a fortress. It is described in the Pilot Book as a ‘warren of narrow streets‘. The book goes on to describe the new town as ‘reinforced concrete non-architecture‘. Both descriptions are accurate.
Gallipoli has a familiar history. Possibly founded by Creatans, taken over by the Greeks, picked the wrong side against the Romans. Later sacked by the Vandals and Goths, itvwas rebuilt by the Byzanyines before the Norman’s took control in the 11th century. The Venetians failed to take the city and the Turks don’t seem to have made it there. By the 18th century ten port was built and at the Unification of Italy Gallipoli was apparently the largest olive market in the Mediterranean.
But we didn’t have time for the full tour, just a wander around the streets taking in the ambiance, a couple of churches and some views then a stop at the green grocer and supermarket. In and out in 2 hours.
The streets are so narrow they would more accurately be described as alleys and the ‘main square’ is more the point where two lanes meet outside St Agatha’s Cathedral.
As we reflected on our visit over an ice cream we figured a day wandering around would have been nice but in high season the marina charges for a cat would have dampened our enthusiasm considerably. Old Gallipoli is a quaint old Italian town and a really pleasant place to visit.
Back on board with our supplies we heaved up the anchor and set off for a 5 mile sail south to anchor for the night off Torre del Pizzo, a nice shallow, sandy anchorage ideal for a peaceful night in light winds. We arrived by 3 pm to find a few boats there, and two more came and tried to anchor right on top of us – why? It’s a big bay!! But by sunset we were almost alone.
But where to go tomorrow? We’re now headed for Lastovo in Croatia and were going to work our way round the Italian coast via Santa Maria de Lucca on the tip of the heel, Otranto, Brindisi and Bari waiting for the right weather to cross the Adriatic. The forecasts give us favourable winds from Friday to midday Sunday but there is a risk of thunder storms in Lastovo on Sunday. One option is to just do a 45 hour passage from here to Lastovo, but we’ll make that decision tomorrow. The other is to make for Otranto, a 10 hour passage, and reassess.