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A short guide to Galatina in Puglia

GALATINA, ONE OF PUGLIA'S BAROQUE JEWELS

Villas in Puglia in and near Galatina >>

Galatina is one of Puglia’s many hidden gems. Just 20km south of stunning Lecce, it has much in common with its more illustrious neighbour, not least its mainly baroque town centre that has remained virtually intact over the centuries.

Founded in the 12th century, the town was originally called Sancti Petri in Galatina, recalling Saint Peter’s stopping in the area on his way from Antioch to Rome. It soon assumed a certain commercial relevance and was passed from one noble family to another.

In the 14th century Galatina came under the control of the Orsini family, and it was Count Raimondello who gave the town its first great church in 1390. Triumphantly returned from the Holy Land, and bearing a relic of Saint Catherine, Raimondello decided to build a church in her honour. The result is a fine example of late Romanesque Puglian architecture that features an elaborately carved doorway and an intricate rose window. The frescoes inside, by Francesco d’Arezzo, are also splendid.

As the town grew so did its need for defences and in the 16th century the present-day walls and gates were erected. Of the five original gates only three, Porta Nuova (or San Pietro), Porta Luce and Porta Cappuccini, remain. The impressive Castello Ducale also dates back to this period.

Galatina’s golden age, however, was in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which time numerous churches and aristocratic palaces were erected. Some elements of Lecce’s baroque style are evident in many of the buildings, but the Galatinese nobility seem to have had a peculiar predilection for imposing and intricately decorated doorways and balconiesA couple of fine examples of aristocratic palazzi include Palazzo del Concerto with its airy loggia, Palazzo Scrimeri with its sumptuously sculpted balcony supports and window decorations and Palazzo Sanlorenzo-Bardoscia with its elaborate facade.

Churches of this period include the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Grazia, 1743, the Chiesa del Carmine, completed in 1724, and the Chiesa di San Paolo, renowned all over Puglia for the curative qualities of its well’s water, which was said to restore to full health those bitten by the dreaded tarantula.

Wandering round the old town centre of Galatina, you will be struck by the charming uniformity of its architecture, the laid-back tranquility of its streets and the friendliness of its inhabitants.

The Chiesa of San Pietro e San Paolo, or Chiesa Mattrice, built in 1633, is an impressive example of the kind of elegant sandy-coloured baroque architecture that became so popular in the Salento.

Wandering round the old town centre of Galatina, you will be struck by the charming uniformity of its architecture, the laid-back tranquility of its streets and the friendliness of its inhabitants. There are also some good restaurants, bars and boutiques if you’re planning on spending a few hours there… which we recommend you do!

PS Anyone with a sweet tooth should go to Pasticceria Ascalone (Via Vittorio Emanuele 17), inventors of Puglia’s signature cake, the pasticciotto - crumbly pastry filled with egg custard!

Villas in Puglia in and near Galatina >>

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