Olive trees and vineyards alternate with ancient farms and elegant villas, in a landscape that always leads to the nearest sea, which is the Ionian Sea. The wide-open window on the Paleolithic era always surprises visitors.
The history of Alezio is very ancient. It was founded by the Messapians and several tombs have been found in the underground of the town. The largest is in the Archaeological Park near Tafuri Palace, an 18th century building that houses the Messapian Civic Museum.
In the territory of Alezio PDO wine there are also Sannicola and Tuglie. Sannicola has recent origins that date back to 1715, when the Coppola family from Gallipoli granted to the peasants its lands near the chapel of San Nicola, where the members of the wealthiest families of Gallipoli started to settle. In the countryside of the village there are four Menhirs and the Grotte Passaturi, or Case Vecchie, old houses, are particularly interesting. According to some scholars, they were the home of the ancient “Tulli” population.
Its gem? The Museum of the Radio, unique in Apulia and housed in an underground oil mill of the 17th century. In the Ducal Palace, once the home of the Venturi Dukes, there is instead the Museum of Rural Life.
Until 1908 Sannicola was a hamlet of Gallipoli and its coastline was considered an extension of that of the more famous Ionian town. The stretch of sea has high rocks alternating with low cliffs and a wide sandy stretch. The coast has been inhabited since ancient times: material dating back to the Paleolithic period has been found near the Tower of Alto Lido and in the cave situated under the present-day Montagna Spaccata, a rocky ridge overlooking the sea.
Gallipoli is the only example in Europe of an island enclosed by walls on all sides, with vineyards producing Alezio PDO wine that almost reach the sea. In the village of medieval origin, a maze of small courtyards and narrow streets that intersect, the Baroque reigns supreme in the sumptuous façades and portals of noble palaces. Almost surprisingly the churches emerge: spectacular on the sea is that of the Purità with its white façade and majolica tile panels built by the dockers, in the center of the old town the Cathedral dedicated to St. Agatha and then the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, which contains the wooden statue of Malladrone, depicting one of the thieves crucified next to Jesus. In the underground the hypogeum oil mills, used from 1600 until the first half of 1800 for the production of the lamp oil for lighting that made the real wealth of the town reaching North Europe, Russia and Paris where it was transformed in soap for the court ladies.
Before saying goodbye to Gallipoli, passing over the bridge from the old town to the new a stop is due to admire the 16th century Greek Fountain and the Castle by the sea, built in the 13thcentury and renovated in the Angevin period. Reopened after a long restoration, it is now open to the public. Don’t miss a visit to the Circular Rooms and the Ennagonal Room, which represents the oldest part of the Byzantine period, and a walk on the bastions to admire the view over the city.