Mafia connections, the Emerald Isle and a Highland Fling travel blog

Alberobello's drystone circular houses



Lecce - Cathedral and Bell Tower in Piazza Duomo

Ornate facade of the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

1548 Porta Napoli fit for a King or Queen

Lecce Piazza del Duomo

Chiesa di Santa Irene

I don't know is Lecce Baroque too much?

We are now in Italy's boot heel region called Puglia - lots of olive and almond groves vineyards and winding country lanes. We visited the Valle d'Itria town of Alberobello which has very cute hobbit-like houses known as trullos, whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs. They were built with dry stone walls this way by the peasants as the Count who owned the land didn't want to pay the Spanish Viceroy any tax for more permanent buildings so no mortar was allowed. They are made from local limestone as this region sits on a great limestone plateau and none are older than the 14th century. Next we visited Locorotondo which is considered one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy. All the building are white and there are flowering pots and troughs everywhere. It was also much quieter and less touristy than Alberobello but still as hot and glarey and the streets as slippery. Thank heavens for sunglasses!

We are spending two nights in Lecce as we arrived early evening, our accommodation seems to be in the less salubrious end of town but on a positive note we have the apartment to ourselves and there is no issue with parking and the coffee is cafetera style.

Lecce is known for its over the top architectural style which has its own name - Lecce Baroque and is commonly nicknamed "The Florence of the South". They are also mad keen at papier-mache and we don't mean pinatas.... these are amazing statues and figurines used to adorn churches and public spaces.

As usual we started our sightseeing at the hottest time of the day, no early starts for us retirees! The main sights including the Basilica and column were being restored so difficult to view. As there are over 40 churches we did visit some amazing churches in the very ornate Lecce Baroque style including the Church of Saint Irene. We wonder what she did or didn't do to get demoted, as she is the former patron saint!

We visited the amazing Faggiano Museum which came about because the owner was investigating a dampness issue and uncovered a subterranean archaeological treasure trove spanning 2,000 years of history.

Lunch was a gelato - we try and mix up the flavours apart from chocolate which Grae always has to have.

For dinner we ate at a restaurant that specialises in "cucina povera" the food of the poor. I had a rice dish with mussels, potatoes and zucchini and Grae had meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.

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