In Ortigia as well as in Gallipoli the natives use the word “rock” to indicate their island, just like the people from all the remote islands I have been so far do.
That said, Gallipoli, which in Greek means “beautiful city”, is an insanely beautiful place. A city that for at least 300 years ago was the equivalent of Dubai today for the almost monopoly throughout Europe of glaring oil (the one used for lighting), which lit the streets from London to Oslo. And since the boundaries of the island are unchangeable, and building beyond the short bridge was banned until a hundred years ago, up to 34 underground mills were digged where oil was produced. 34! Another fact: in Gallipoli there are no squares, you could not waste the little existing space! And finally in Gallipoli they don’t traditionally dance the “pizzica”, which represents the countryside essence of Salento, Gallipoli’s region: they preferred Neapolitan style songs sort of.
I met unforgettable and particularly enriching people here. The Circolo della Vela Gallipoli (Gallipoli Sailing Club), to start with, namely Massimoand Glauco, who took care of Maribelle and made me feel like a real sailor (which I am not).
Then the meeting with two special guys, Enrico and Renato of the Association EMYS, who gave life to a magical place struggling against monstruos touristic interests: the urban laboratory Liberalarte Gallipoli. In a former monastic cloister, hidden behind a door on the ramparts of the city, lies a container of art, crafts, innovation and tradition where you can visit an exhibition of tactile paintings (i.e. you are invited to touch them!), you can dive among whales and turtles with virtual reality glasses (the kids’ favorite) or listen to the sounds associated with the thousand traditions of the town organized according to the four seasons.
And then the incredible, volcanic and sweet Raffaela, an architect born in Milan but with blood from here, cultural manager of Castello di Gallipoli(Gallipoli’s Castle). Another incredible place that until 2014 was nothing less than a dump and that thanks to Raffaela and her collaborators has become the cultural pole of the city, with exhibitions (riht now a very clever one about selfies called #selfati) and events (yoga sessions, thematic nights, concerts) that stubbornly try to bring tourists, whose cultural level is here unfortunately quite low (Gallipoli in recent years has become the Italian Ibiza), to the world of culture .
In a few islands, indeed, I have found such an attachment to the “rock”, its traditions and its identity as I did in Gallipoli.
It’s even harder this morning to leave this place which already a huge place in my heart for past personal facts. In addition, in front of me stands (or should I say lies) the longest leg, until Tremiti islands: the forecast states very little and always opposite winds and extreme heat; besides, I will enter yet another sea, the Adriatic Sea, different, unique. With the shadow of Venice that looms from the North, the historical shadow of the former almighty marine empire and the personal shadow it being the arrival island of this crazy journey of mine…
Posted on: 6.Aug.2018 Leave a comment