Cross back onto the mainland, and hotel options include Palazzo del Corso, a former noble residence built in the 19th-century that’s now a luxurious 5-star hotel. Situated on its rooftop, Ristorante DolceVita is a fabulous fine dining choice, providing panoramic sea views and classic local dishes such as spaghettoni pasta with Gallipoli’s famous pink shrimp.
Gallipoli is a fisherman’s town at heart. For the freshest catch-of-theday, Pescheria La Lampara is one of several fish stalls in the harbor where you can choose your fish to be grilled to order, accompanied by a bottle of crisp local wine, so it’s ideal for a casual outdoor lunch or dinner. A more extensive menu can be enjoyed at their nearby restaurant La Lampara Fish Lab, including tuna and swordfish tartare, homemade pasta, and fritto misto di mare (lightly fried little fish, squid, and shellfish).
Numerous beach clubs line the coast, with Lido Pôr do Sol in Baia Verde to the south of Gallipoli being popular with the LGBTQ community and their friends. This fun beach club has sun loungers, a bar serving drinks and snacks, Wi-Fi, plus DJ’s from 4 P.M. on weekends. For the past few years it has hosted the official Salento Pride Beach Party, a key event of the annual Salento Pride celebrations that take place in August each year.
Be aware that, following a change-of-management, Gallipoli’s once premiere gay beach club G Beach now appears to not welcome members of our community. Back in 2017, several LGBTQ websites including gay.it ran reports of gay couples being asked to leave for kissing, while others were told not to tag G Beach on their social media posts. Some outdated websites continue to list it as a gay beach, but it’s best avoided, especially as there are more welcoming options directly north and south of here.
The rocky outcrop of public beach to the north of G Beach is nicknamed by locals as ‘cocks on the rocks’ and remains popular with gay men. To reach here, park at Ten Club then follow the footpath around the club perimeter wall and through the pine trees. To the south, Punta Della Suina is another LGBTQ friendly choice.
Farther inland from here is Village Picador, a gay party mecca set in the countryside amidst acres of olive groves. With a large outdoor dancefloor, a stage for spectacular drag and go-go shows, and secure parking for 1,500 cars, it’s a uniquely Mediterranean party experience that sends rays of rainbow light into the night sky. Open during the summer season, Village Picador is most popular on Saturday nights, so check their Facebook page for details.
A 1-hour drive north of Gallipoli, Spiaggia D’Ayala (D’Ayala beach) is a wonderfully remote beach backed by dunes and a pine forest. Although not officially authorized as a naturist beach, nudists have frequented this stretch of golden sand for decades. It’s favored by gay Italians as well as intrepid international visitors: gay travel bloggers the Nomadic Boys named it their favourite beach in the region. One of only a handful of properties close to the beach is a gay B&B. Owned and run by gay couple Umberto and Angelo, Lune Saracene has three simple guestrooms, and it’s a great choice if plentiful beach fun is your priority.
Over on the Adriatic coast, Torre Guaceto is also popular with nudists and local gay boys. Named after the 16th-century watchtower that stands at the heart of this protected marine nature reserve, this stretch of coastline is wild, hirsute, and blissfully free from modern development. The gay-frequented section is a 45-minute walk from the car park, assuring its remoteness.