Gallipoli and the Gozzo International Festival

Along the west coast of Salento, in the magnificent province of Lecce, stands the “pearl of the Ionian”. On the other hand, its toponym is clear: Kallìpolis, of clear Greek-classical derivation, means “beautiful city”. In the sixth century it was already a bishop’s seat, while from the Unification of Italy until 1927 it was the district’s capital. The town, which today has just over 20,000 inhabitants, is divided into two areas that appear urbanistically distinct: the one formed more or less starting from the second half of the nineteenth century and known as the “new village”; and the historical one that stands on an island. The two urban environments are connected to each other by a brick bridge dating back to the seventeenth century.  The island of Campo, the small island called “Li picciuni” and the island of Sant’Andrea complete the municipal territory. From 2015 Gallipoli chairs the “Conference of historical cities of the Mediterranean”, an organism born to safeguard and enhance local cultures. And always since 2015 the Gozzo International Festival takes place here. The last edition was held from 11 to 14 October last. Within the evocative maritime event is held also the Italian Championship of Latin sailing: for four years, traditional sailing enthusiasts are invited to meet in the pretty town of Salento to compete with their boats. Fifteen boats between ‘gozzo’ and ‘lancia’ with about 250 participants divided into crews and escorts from all over Italy, raced for the pleasure that drives them to carry on the tradition for the Latin sail. The Championship has recalled in a single regatta gozzo and lancia coming from the main Italian marines, of origins and peculiarities different from each other to make them all unique jewels: from the Sicilian red sails of “Rosio” from Trapani, to the silhouettes of “La Santa Lucia di Magna Grecia Mare” from Tricase, winner of the “Vela Latina Classica Pura” award, from the fast Sardinian lance to the Salerno and Pisciotta gozzi by Maestro Giovanni Cammarano, from the marvelous lines of Mastro Bonanno from Marsala boats to the Lancetta of Marina di Catona from Reggio Calabria. Gozzo International Festival is the event that was born in 2015 with the aim of enhancing the tradition and the seafaring culture, placing the undisputed protagonist at the center of attention: the boat with the Latin arm, the only common minimum denominator of all countries overlooking the Mediterranean. There are many collateral events at the Italian championship inside the evocative Galleria Dei Due. The exhibitions of the artists who portray the sea and especially the sails like the watercolors painted by Emanuela Tenti and the photographs on the Salento by Roberto Rocca and Bruno Sergio, the collection of “20 years by the sea” calendars by Antonio Mannu from Sardinia are highly appreciated. To all this were added the inevitable tastings of local food and wine. Four days of sport, art and gastronomy have therefore animated Gallipoli celebrating the Latin sail.It is to be hoped that this event will also be consolidated to make known this corner of Salento, and even more so to enjoy this wonderful village on the Ionian. Without neglecting the important message that comes from the event itself, namely the protection of the sea.