Gallipoli, Diocese of (GALLIPOLITANA), in the province of Lecce (Southern Italy). The city is built on a high rock in the Gulf of Tarentum and joined to the mainland by a bridge of twelve arches. It is surrounded by a bastioned wall and dominated by a castle; has also an important trade in wine, oil and fish. Drinking-water is brought to the town from the mainland by means of an aqueduct. The harbor is a natural one, and not particularly safe. It is thought that the place owes its origin to the inhabitants of Gallipolis in Sicily. In 450, it was laid waste by the Vandals; in the days of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) Gallipolis belonged to the Roman Church. During the Norman invasion it resisted stubbornly. Roger I gave it to his brother Bohemund, who had been made Prince of Tarentum; thenceforth the city shared the lot of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Charles of Anjou besieged it in 1284 and destroyed it, driving the inhabitants from their homes; in 1327 Robert the Good gave them permission to return, within a short time the town again became prosperous. In 1429, the Turks disembarked there. In 1484, the Venetians, in order to force King Ferdinand to with-draw his troops from the pontifical states, blockaded the port with a fleet of 60 vessels. Despite the death of their leader, Giacomo Morello, they overcame the stubborn resistance of the citizens, and sacked the town ruthlessly. It was quickly restored; but in 1496, the Venetians, in revenge for the assistance given to Ferdinand II by the town, took possession of Gallipoli; even the French blockade in 1501 did not succeed in driving them out. In 1509 Gallipoli was given back to the Kingdom of Naples, at that time under Spanish rule. A very remarkable feat of arms occurred in 1528 when 600 Gallipolitans routed an army of 4000 French infantry and 300 cavalry. The last blockade occurred in 1809 when the English attacked the place and were repulsed.
Among its famous citizens are: the painters Giovanni Andrea Coppola, Giovanni Domenica Catalano, Giuseppe Ribera (Spagnuoletto); the sculptor Vespasiano Genuino; the poets Giovanni Coppola, Bishop of Muro, and Onofrio Orlandini; the jurisconsults Tommaso Briganti (1762) and Filippo Briganti (1804); the physician and naturalist Giovanni Presta (1797). The earliest bishop we know of is one Benedict who lived in the days of St. Gregory the Great. The Greek Rite, which was introduced probably in the tenth century, remained in use until the year 1513. Among other bishops are: Melchisedech, present at the Second Council of Nicaea (787); Alessio Calcedonio (1493), one of Bessarion’s disciples; Alfonso Herrera (1576), a generous and charitable man; Vincenzo Capece (1595), a man of remarkable holiness; Antonio Perez de la Lastra (1679), philosopher and theologian; Oronzio Filomarino (1701), a renowned theologian. The cathedral, built in 1629, has a famous facade; it is the work of Francesco Bischetini, and Scipione Lachibari. The frescoes of the cupola (martyrdom of St. Agatha) and on the walls are the work of Carlo Malinconico. The see is a suffragan of Otranto; it has 3 parishes and 20,100 souls, a convent of Carmelite nuns, and a foundling hospital.