The City Of Baroque | History

Considered by the well-known US magazine Forbes as one of the unforgettable Italian towns, Galatina combines the elegance of Baroque architecture with the tradition of pastry making. The city is full of artistic and historical treasures to discover, such as the Basilica of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, a unique Romanesque Gothic jewel in southern Italy, built at the behest of Raimondello Orsini del Balzo at the end of 1300 and declared a national monument in 1870. The facade of the Basilica, in Lecce stone, is decorated with a central rose window that seems to be embroidered in the stone.

The interior of the Basilica is a treasure chest of art, entirely adorned with frescoes that were made in the fifteenth century, at the behest of the Princess and later Queen Maria d’Enghien, by the best artists from the Giotto school. In fact, the splendid pictorial cycles are compared to those present in the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. Worthy of note, the majestic Piazza San Pietro with its late Baroque style Cathedral embraces visitors with the warmth emanating from the Lecce stone that decorates it.

The Chapel of St. Paul draws the attention of tourists and curious. It contains the local legend of the tarantolate. In fact, during the feast of the Patron Saints Peter and Paul (28 and 29 June), the Chapel was a place of popular pilgrimage, mostly peasant women, in search of healing from the bite of the "tarantula" spider that would have attacked them in the fields during the harvest period. The venom injected by the spider would have been the cause of hysterics and convulsions; the cure was the dance. To the rhythm of tambourines and violins, the Tarantolate wriggled in an obsessive dance to try to make the effect of the bite of the tarantula vanish together with the water that was drunk by taking it from the close well, an effect that was regenerated from year to year. The (imaginary) bite of the tarantula was nothing more than an expedient to publicly express, through the described ritual, the frustration deriving from being marginalized women, because they are victims of a patriarchal and peasant society.


Galatina is also renowned for its pasticciotto, a traditional and unique pastry made of shortcrust pastry and cream, invented in 1785 in the Ascalone pastry shop, the oldest in the city, which still exists. The “Pasticciotto di Galatina” trademark has been registered since 2021. The delicacy of this dessert cannot be described in words ... but it needs to be tasted.

Galatina: the navel of Salento

Galatina, the navel of Salento, enjoys proximity to the most famous beaches of the Ionian Sea (Gallipoli, Santa Caterina, Porto Cesareo) as well as the Adriatic Sea (Otranto, Castro, Alimini Lakes). Lecce, the capital of the Baroque, is only 19 km away.