Galatina is a city in Salento
in the province of Lecce. It is famous mainly for its Cathedral
dedicated to Saint Caterina, containing beautiful frescoes.
Today’s habitation has definite feudal origins from
the High Medieval era, but nothing much is known about this
Galatina was not mentioned in historical documentation
until 1200, where it was described as having a lively and
important centre for culture, language and Greek religious
rites. This moves its past history to at least the Byzantine
domination of Southern Puglia, beginning with the Greek-Gothic
War (535-553). But nothing prohibits one thinking that Galatina
also existed under the Roman Empire, and that it probably
had, like many other cities of Salento, even earlier foundations.
One thing for certain is that Galatina - which at the time
was called San Pietro in Galantina in honour of the apostle
who passed through here during his journey to Rome - was an
integral part of the County of Soleto, whose feudatories were
also nobles of Galatina.
After the advent of the Normans and Swabians, Galatina was
granted to Ugo del Balzo, who disembarked in Italy after Carlo
d’Angiò (1266). In 1334, the same family had
defensive walls erected. The Balzo Family then became Orsini
del Balzo through marriage (1386) to Maria d’Enghien
Among the most interesting places, other than the aforementioned
Cathedral of Saint Caterina in Romanesque Pugliese style,
is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul (1335, rebuilt in 1633),
a beautiful Baroque-Pugliese example which preserves precious
paintings in its interior.
Other religious buildings are the: Church of the Battenti,
Monastery of S. Chiara, Carmelitan Church and Convent, Cappuccini
Church, Church of the Addolorata, Anime Church, Church-Abbey
of the Olivetani and the S. Maria delle Grazie Church which
is annexed to a Dominican convent.
Along the wall there are three doorways: Porta Luce, Porta
Nuova and Porta Cappuccini.
Until a few decades ago, yearly on the 28th and 29th June
in Galatina, the Tarantate arrived from all of Salento, that
is women who had been bitten by tarantulas (in dialect tarante).
During this time there was a procession of people dancing,
singing on their way to the Chapel of Saint Paul so that they
could drink water from the well and be healed by the saint.
In the surrounding territory, one can visit three Basilican
crypts, founded by the Basilican monks who arrived in Puglia
during the 9th century in escape from religious persecution
in the East: Saint Anna in the Piani district; Saint Maria
della Porta in the Pisanello district, Saint Maria della Grotta.