On day four we looked further afield for somewhere to visit and decided upon Gallipoli, a town on the Ionian sea in the very south of Puglia, on the heel of Italy’s boot.
We drove for nearly a couple of hours to reach the town, while I cursed at the drivers dangerously overtaking me, driving way too fast and accelerating through roundabouts without even a glimpse to check if it was safe to cross. Honestly, the drivers in Puglia were the absolute worst and only by practising incredibly defensive driving did I get through the trip without any accidents.
About 30 minutes before we were due to reach Gallipoli, a torrential rainstorm began, making it almost impossible to see the road. The same thing had happened on our drive to Savelletri and I felt a knot in the bottom of my stomach at the prospect of yet another soggy and miserable day.
As I tried to conjure up positive thoughts of sunny skies, miraculously the rain stopped, the clouds parted and we were treated to some elusive sunshine as we drove into the town.
About 5 minutes from the town centre, Ross spotted a man selling sea urchins in a cart on the side of the road. There was nowhere to safely pull in, so we continued on, excited that Gallipoli would provide us with some ricci di mare.
The old town was a tiny lemon and terracotta-coloured island, separated from the mainland by a small bridge built in the 17th century. They even had pastel-coloured trucks in Gallipoli!
As we crossed the bridge into the old town, we spotted a sea urchin sculpture in the water; another sure-fire promise we’d get to try some.
Next to the bridge, we found a fresh seafood market, heaving with fish, squid, prawns, mussels, oysters and crabs. After carefully scouring every single stall, there wasn’t a single sea urchin to be found! I double-checked with a man working at one of the stalls and he confirmed there weren’t any.
I was devastated and massively regretting not pulling in illegally – taking inspiration from my fellow Italian-drivers – and getting some from the food stall we had seen earlier.
We continued through the town, walking along cobbled streets and admiring the little details built into the stone walls.
Doesn’t everything look better when it’s set against a blue sky?!
After a short walk/hobble, we reached the sea edge and pulled up a seat at Silocco, after being charmed by its chalkboard menu (with once again only seafood options), cacti and pastel-coloured furniture. With our practically non-existent Italian, ordering was a little tricky here, but we eventually conveyed our order and basked in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.
Our salmon steak, giant prawns and octopus came out perfectly cooked, served with an accompanying salad. The seafood is so great here that all you really need is to add a squeeze of lemon and let the flavours speak for themselves.
The sun was beating down as we ate lunch, and after settling the bill we headed straight to the beach for our first ocean swim of the trip. It was a bit of a debacle getting Ross’ moon boot off, but once he got in we were treated to a swim in perfect-temperature, glittering water.
We stopped off at an ice cream shop on the way back to the car and ordered two scoops each – I had pistachio and rocher, and Ross got pistachio and pannacotta.
Ice cream isn’t usually my go-to dessert, but this was the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The texture was quite slightly chewy and the flavours were rich and amazing. I’m actually salivating as I write just thinking of it (I need to stop writing blog posts while hungry).
We had plans to fit in one more beach stop on the way home, so we set off to Torre Lapillo. It was nearly 5pm when we arrived, but the sun was still out and shining on the clearest, loveliest water. The sand was really fine and white, turning the sea a gorgeous aqua.
We stayed on the beach until the sun got low, then brushed the sand off our feet and hopped in the car, back to our little trullo for dinner and more limoncello.