Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 40 On the road again

Gallipoli is gorgeous and it took only 40 minutes to get there from Martignano. A perfect day for a drive, too, clear skies if a little windy. And because we left at 1 p.m. and on a Sunday we pretty much had the road to ourselves.

Shay and I were the only ones up for the trip. Barbara and Frances had already seen the town. But the pair of them missed what I would consider the best pranzo (lunch) I've ever had anywhere. Boy was that food special. Shay was still raving about it on the drive home.

We ate at a place called La Puritate on via S. Elia. Gallipoli is a harbour town so, of course, the restaurant specializes in fish dishes. We had two primi (pasta course): penne with muscles and clams in a light tomato sauce, and spaghettini with a fish called palamito (I'd never heard of it. It's called Bonito in English, a medium-size fish in the mackerel family.). Small pieces of the fish were mixed eggplant and fresh tomatoes in a white wine reduction. OMG. 

For our secondo (main dish), we shared what turned out to be a sort of tuna scaloppini that melted on the tongue.

We didn't order dessert but we each had a tiny, perfect espresso. It came with a silver dish filled with miniature almond cookies.

Gallipoli, home to 21,000, sits on the inside Italy's heel, facing the sole of the boot, so to speak. It looks out across the Ionian Sea, which is really just the top arm of the Mediterranean.

Outside its centro storico, Gallipoli boasts a skyscraper, of which the citizens are quite proud. But how can a glass and metal thing, though it may be beautiful, compete with structures warmed by sun, buffeted by winds and impregnated with the spirits of the generations that have lived in them for a thousand years?

Spaniards added to the original 13th C castle, built by Byzantines, in the 16th C.

Gallipoli fortification walls in the centro storico

A 16th C "Hellenistic" fountain depicts the labours of Hercules and a myth of certain nymphs

Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which has parts dating back to 13th C, has 10 altars along the side walls. The Crocefisso chapel (Crucifix) has wooden statues of the Robbers on either side created in the 18th century by Vespiano Genuino.  

Shay preparing to down his pasta with palamito

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