Galatina is a beautiful historical town in the heart of the Salentine Peninsular, within easy reach of the Adriatic and Ionian coast-lines, Puglia's "Lands End" (Sta Maria di Leuca), as well as the baroque provincial capital, Lecce. Galatina itself has some beautiful baroque architecture and some of Puglia's most famous churches, and as a result is often referred to as a "mini Lecce".
Of these churches, there is the Basilica di Santa Caterina, renowned for its beautiful fourteenth-century frescoes that cover its interior. The main square also features the incredibly impressive San Pietro. Perhaps the most famous of all the churches (and the most under-stated) however is the chapel of San Paolo. The chapel is located a small distance from the town square and is steeped in history. There is a legend which says that water from its well has the power to heal those who have been bitten by the tarantula. From this legend comes the annual Festival of the Tarantula, a tradition where would-be bite victims make their way to the well to be healed, whilst dancing to the pizzica (music that is typical of the area). I feel it's important to point out, there are no tarantulas in the area now so there's no need to be worried!
The festival is called "La Notte della Taranta" and traditionally takes place on San Paolo's feast days (28th and 29th June). Festivities usually start early and finish late in Galatina, where there is music and dancing, as well as a huge fair of rides and market stalls.
As well as the beautiful historical buildings within Galatina, many of which date back to the 16th century, you can also find a wealth of restaurants, bars and shops. During the day, your time can be spent drifting between cafe's, bakeries and gelato ice-cream shops, whilst in the evening the town centre comes alive with people eating at fantastic restaurants, admiring the flood-lit architecture and frequenting the many bars, listening to live concerts in the town square, or visiting some of the many shops
Due to its location just south of Lecce, Galatina offers an ideal base for sightseeing and exploring Southern Puglia. Not only this, but because the town is away from the tourist hotspots on the coast, the town is still lively and vibrant out of season, yet not overcrowded during the summer months.
Written by James Cullingford - Owner of Property 89993 in Galatina, Italy