Lecce you are Lovely

Today is Friday and we are feeling sad about the terrible tragedy in Nice. Travel is wonderful but these days there is an element of danger. But we won’t let it stop us.

So today we met our guide for the day. Lovely Simona. I found her website and booked a three hour tour. It’s great going with a local and as it turned out she lives around the corner from our apartment.IMG_2019

We set off and she began to tell us about life in Lecce both now and in the past. She is a born and bred local,  though her partner Tim, she described as more English than the Queen !

We walked and she pointed out the features on the buildings. This was a wealthy area in days gone by due  to production of wine, olives  and tobacco.  There are a number of large Palazzo, now either privately owned or broken into apartments. In this way it’s like the very lovely areas of Rome.

We looked at the markings above the doors, the churches, Cathedral and Basillica. They all have a story.

The really interesting thing about Lecce is the use of  Cartapesta or paper mâché as as an art form. Used to make statues,  it is particular to this area. It’s used in Venice for making masks but here it’s in the churches. You can hardly tell the difference between the statues made from Paper mâché , wood and stone. Such craftsmen.

We visited one shop in a quiet area behind the Cathedral and had a nice talk with the owner.  A lovely lady named Stefania. Ginetta – you and Em would love this work. Her more modern work is also amazing. She had made a bustier you would love and a dress. And a mermaid!

We looked at the altars of different style – Baroque and Renaissance.



Such beauty in one place.

We had to stop for a refreshment. A coffee over ice with a dash of almond milk to make it sweet. Delicious. It’s called ‘Cafe in Ghiaccio con latte Di Mandorle’.

More walking and talking and noticing things we would otherwise have missed – including the drain cover marked with the city symbol of the she-wolf and the oak tree; and the fascist symbol from the 1930’s.

Significant symbols everywhere.

We retreated to our apartment for a piccolo siesta and to catch up with the Tour de France

Then it was time for our passeggiata. We walked, we shopped, we had a glass of wine and we watched others doing the same.


Dinner was at Osteria 203 recommended by Simona. It was a beautiful meal with a gorgeous bottle of local red. To make it more special we watched a parade go past our restaurant. It was to take St Carmine back to her church. Accompanied by a band. Steve thought the band almost unique – not because of the typical Italian playing con gusto and slightly off key – but of the 40 or so members, no three of them were in step even with each other!



After dinner walked some more and visited another lovely shrine  – the most popular Gelateria named Natale. What a place.


Buona notte my friends

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Road trip back to Puglia

The big swim is over so it’s back in the car to cross back to Puglia. 

The drive along the coast was lovely. The water is such a beautiful blue. 

So Thursday is an observation day. 

How Italians drive is one observation I could go on about for ever: but just a few ……

They love speed…… It’s nothing to do 120 in an 80 zone

They overtake whenever they want. Don’t worry about lines crossed, safety, another car coming in opposite direction. They just assume they can poke back into the line of traffic and everyone will be happy. 

They always drive with one arm dangling out of the window. Perhaps they don’t like air con as the window is open for the dangle. 

The roads here are lined with oleander bushes. Pink and white and they look beautiful. 

To finish our drive to Lecce we saw the funniest thing. We’re driving along doing about 100 and a car whooped by doing at least 130, and as it passed us we both gasped and laughed. It was a hearse, and the back door had opened up so you could see the coffin inside. It was a very nice brown teak and we thought it would come flying out at any moment. 

About 500 metres down the road the driver must have realised and pulled over.  Two mins later the same car went past at 140 this time the back lift up door was closed. May they RIP!

This is not a 2 lane road. It is someone overtaking with a truck coming towards him! 
We arrived in Lecce around 3.30 and I had messaged Antonio. Yes another Antonio. This one is the landlord of our air BnB. It’s great. Typical Italian apartment. A little door on to our Vico  (small street) with a sitting room, larger bedroom kitchen and bathroom. In quiet, but in the old city, with real neighbours around us. 

It will be perfect. We had a siesta for a short while but I gave up and went out walking by myself to get a feel for the city as siesta was finishing and all the local businesses were opening. 

It’s a lovely Baroque town sometimes known as the ‘Rome of the South’ or ‘Florence of the Baroque’. But it dates back to old Roman times and has a theatre and amphitheatre – but the period which led to town’s current fame was the 17th century. A period of prosperity led to grand developments and the wholesale construction of palaces and churches. These buildings adapted the fashionable Baroque style to the soft local stone, with decorations and cherubs extravagantly covering facades and doorways. This local style is known as barocco Leccese (‘Lecce Baroque’). And it’s beautiful. 

We walked our own style of Passeggiata, had an Appertivo and went to a local restaurant for some home cooking. 

We didn’t expect horse to be on the menu but it was, and we managed to avoid it. I had vegetables with grilled chicken and Steve had baked pasta then sausages local style. 

Naturally we finished with a gelato and limoncello.