Lecce

8 May

Lecce, our last of the three-city trip south, is a town of over 95,000 people located in Puglia. It is well-known for its Baroque architecture, a style that began in the late 16th century and is often characterized by large proportions, twisting columns, theatrical effects, bronze and gilding, and extensive use of tromp-l’oeil. 

We entered the historical center via Porta San Biagio (St. Blaise Gate).

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and were immediately met with visions of baroque architecture.

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The Chiesa di Santa Croce, (the Basilica), was begun in 1353 and eventually completed by 1695.

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The church has a richly decorated façade with animals, statues, grotesque figures and vegetables, and a large rose window.

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Side altars are adorned with an abundance of Baroque columns and theatrical effects,

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while the chapel of St. Antonio is a great example of gilding.

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Lecce is a city where old meets “new”:

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The Roman 2nd century amphitheater was able to seat more than 25,000 people. It is now half-buried because other monuments were built above it over the centuries. The theatre is currently used for different religious and arts events.

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The biggest surprise came when we found out our hotel, Torre del Parco, is one of the medieval symbols of Lecce. It was erected in 1419 by the then-18 year old prince of Lecce, Giovanni Antonio Del Balzo Orsini.

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The tower, standing more than 75 feet, is surrounded by a ditch in which bears (the heraldic symbol of the Orsini del Balzo) were reared.

The whole complex was the seat of Orsini’s tribunal and of a mint, and after Giovanni Antonio’s death, it became a residence for the Spanish viceroys. Over the intervening years, and with the addition of acreage, it functioned as many historical places, including a grand tribunal, a palazzo, and even a prison.

From 1992 – 2006, the current restoration took place and it was reopened as a small private hotel, banquet facility, spa, meeting center, and just wonderful place to relax.

We visited the tower and were surprised by what we found…

a chapel,

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modern meeting space,

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small banquet rooms,

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and an interesting antique carriage. (Thanks, Susan, for posing.)

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The bridge from the tower to the hotel facilities crosses one of the main roads in town,

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and provides several spaces for relaxing and wine sipping.

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The hotel grounds, complete with palms and flowers everywhere, were a total surprise.

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After sight-seeing all day, and since it was our last night, we decided to “eat in” and enjoy the surroundings.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the spa, but the made-to-order breakfast and freshly squeezed blood orange juice were perfect for our last morning.

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Alberobello Trulli, Matera Caves, and the loveliness of Lecce, three amazing locations in southern Italy offering thousands of years of history, beauty and intrigue – so very worth a visit.

Ciao,
Judy

 

11 Responses to “Lecce”

  1. Fr Chuck Faso OFM May 8, 2018 at 2:18 AM #

    Pace e Bene from Bari. The 19 of us are finishing our four days in Bari, Alberobello, etc. We go to Naples today and then home on Friday May 11. Thanks for your beautiful photos and commentary. Safe travels. Buon Viaggio! Prossima volta a Cortona! Magari!
    Fr Chuck Faso OFM

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 8, 2018 at 2:37 AM #

      I can’t believe I missed you by just a few weeks. Our route was Alborobello, Matera and then Lecce. Such fascinating places! Safe travels and buon viaggio to you! Glad you missed the FCO scopera yesterday!!! E certo, prossima volta a Cortona!

      Like

  2. marilyneb May 8, 2018 at 2:26 AM #

    Really great photos! A lovely post – Lecce looks stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 8, 2018 at 2:41 AM #

      Thanks and I forwarded your interesting Vienna post to a friend who will be visiting there soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marilyneb May 8, 2018 at 3:06 AM #

        Aw thank you! Hope it’s useful for them 🙂

        Like

  3. Royce Larsen May 8, 2018 at 8:59 AM #

    What a great climax to your adventure
    Did you find a good example “ of what deceived your eye”?
    My eye was quite pleased
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 9, 2018 at 3:34 AM #

      It truly was. As for the eye deception, I think I was too focused on the many carvings. But all was so worth seeing. Ciao!

      Like

  4. jeanfromcalifornia May 8, 2018 at 4:26 PM #

    That looks glorious! There is nothing better than staying in places with history. We stayed in all the Paradores in Spain (old monasteries, castles, and convents that were going to ruin until the government turned them into hotels.)
    This one reminds me of that trip.
    Looks like you and Len are having a grand time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 9, 2018 at 11:38 AM #

      It was wonderful. We had friends that did the same as you in Spain and they loved it too!

      Like

  5. Debra Kolkka May 8, 2018 at 10:05 PM #

    What a fabulous place to stay. I want to go there!

    Liked by 1 person

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