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Published: October 8th 2016
It was all I could do to not buy one of these little statues for sale near the Duomo. I just loved them.
I couldn’t believe Dianne had booked us into Lecce for eight days. Even allowing for trips to other towns in the heel of Italy, eight days, wow. As usual, her decision was a good one. Train woes
We had to go back to Bari, change trains and head to Lecce. As experienced train travellers there should be no problem. At least not until the activation machine ate one of our tickets. There was no one in the station to talk to, even in Italian. So Dianne took a picture of the machine showing a red light flashing indicating it was jammed. We climbed on the train, hoping for the best. We were a bit disappointed the conductor didn’t even ask for our tickets.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until we arrived in Lecce. Our new hostess had said she would pick us up and when we came out of the station, there she was holding a sign with “Dianne Wilson’’ printed in English. Anna was cut from the same mold as our other excellent hostesses. She said it wasn’t too far from the station to the apartment but it was easier to pick us up than
We spent a lot of time eating and relaxing out here.
explain how to find it. Hmmmmm. It was in the old city with all the twists and turns, one-way streets, and dead ends with which we have become all too familiar.
The apartment was delightful and had a secluded terrace which was superb for meals and just sitting around with a glass of wine. Anna gave us directions to the major items we needed (food and wine) and left us to unpack. After settling in we headed out for supplies. Anna had provided lots of stuff, even a bottle of wine but we were going to be here for a while (did I mention it would be eight days?) so we might as well figure out where the important things are. Of course, we (read I) managed one teeny wrong turn and ended up walking forever, it seemed. The store was exactly where Anna had described and provided us with everything we needed including a few laughs over our attempts at speaking Italian.
Back home, the terrace beckoned with a glass of wine. Exploring Lecce
On our first full day, with the help of an excellent map of the old city, we managed to find our
We love the old city gates. Lots of towns seem to have been able to keep most of them and they are great landmarks.
way around town. As it was Saturday, finding the cathedral was a first priority and we ended up attending Mass Saturday night as we hoped to go to Otranto on either Sunday or Monday with our new friends from Belgium, if we could reconnect with them. One of the prime sites in the old city is the Roman amphitheatre. When we found it, we discovered the floor was set up for a concert. One chap told us we could walk about the place free of charge which we did. Another told us (we thought, as it was Italian) that a free symphony concert was to be presented that night. We received two free tickets. Back home to relax on our terrace and change for an evening out.
It was quite spectacular to be in the old theatre at night. The effect of the lighting on the old stone theatre was great. We had just settled into our seats when a poke in the back indicated our Belgian friends had found us. Small world. The concert was great. Road trip
Sunday, we met at Bob and Rita’s B&B just outside the old city as we couldn’t describe to
Dianne loves to take pictures of the old churches. Ask her to show you some of them.
them how to get to our place. The plan was to go to Santa Maria Di Leuca (a.k.a. Leuca), the town right at the bottom of the heel of the Italian boot. But instead of driving down boring motorways, Bob suggested we drive east to the Adriatic and down the coast road. Bonus.
The coast road was a bit slow due to all the twists and turns but we weren’t in a hurry and we wanted time to see the sights anyway. The views were quite spectacular. The city of Otranto is the major attraction along this coast. It is an ancient city, one of the cities that sided with Hannibal against Rome in the Second Punic War which was 2,200+ years ago. When you read the history of the town you would think that everyone has “owned” it at one time or another. It was even occupied by the French during the Napoleonic war.
But the cathedral, the sea wall and the castle still make for great viewing even if it is just a quick visit. The ancient Basilica of San Pietro is a delightful little church which is saying something after all the churches we have
A lot of the churches have nativity scenes set up, and not just for Christmas, They are permanent displays, often as part of a side altar.
seen on this trip. And it is little. You’d be hard pressed to put 100 people in it. Quite a contrast to most Italian churches.
We decided to have lunch at a little place Bob had read about near Gagliano del Capo, almost at the tip. It was on a farm outside the town itself. When we pulled into the town we could find no signs and, of course, since it was the middle of the afternoon, everything was closed. We drove around for a while and finally saw a car coming towards us. Bob flagged him down to ask directions but the driver was an English speaking tourist, just like us. Who else would be out at this time of day? We drove further and found another chap walking down the street. He was from the town and spoke pretty good English but didn’t know where the restaurant was. Sigh. So we drove further and Bob spotted a group of men sitting in the shade. One chap said he couldn’t tell us how to get there but could show us! He climbed into one of those three wheeled trucks that are more like motorcycles and off we went.
The Roman Amphitheatre
Luckily we didn't have to sit on the stone seats although as we left after the concert we noticed many people were sitting on them.
After a few twists and turns we found the place. How generous of this chap to leave his comfy chair and lead a bunch of weird tourists around town.
There were a couple of cars in the yard of what seemed more like a farm than a restaurant. Apparently it was part of an agrotourism setup where you can stay on the farm, help if you want and also eat in their restaurant. But there was no one around. As we stood there scratching our heads, a car pulled in. Progress, we thought. But no. It was the second person we had asked for help. He had looked into where the place was and thought it would be a good idea to take his girlfriend for lunch. Another disappointed customer. Leuca
We managed to find lunch at a seaside restaurant in Leuca and then spent a couple of hours wandering along the coast and through the town. We got quite a panorama of the sea as we were just about as far down the heel as you can go. One way you look is Albania and the other, Africa. Pretty neat.
But it was getting late
It was great but we were surprised that none of the music was by an Italian composer. It's not like there aren't some great ones. Rossini is one of our favourites and not just for the William Tell Overture.
so we just headed straight back on the motorway. Pretty boring scenery but we were getting tired. It was a great day. How Cow
We’ve only been here for just over two days. There are six more to go. Can we keep up the pace? To Be Continued.
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