May 1st 2015

Dubbed the 'Florence of the South', the city of Lecce is resplendent with ornate Baroque, cherub-strewn, architecture. But beneath the floors and streets of the starting point of our Walk in Puglia – the 'heel' of Italy’s boot – lies layer upon layer of much more ancient history. As would-be restaurateur Luciano Faggiano found when he wanted to open a trattoria in what seemed to be an unremarkable building in town. A problem with the drainage from the restroom led to the Faggiano father and sons digging a trench to investigate… What they found was a treasure trove of underground corridors and rooms – uncovering a subterranean world dating back to a time before the birth of Jesus. They kept digging after that elusive sewer pipe - and uncovered a tomb of the ancient local tribes, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel, evidence of Knights Templar and countless artifacts – the glories kept coming. The museum Faggiano in Lecce Now the building is a museum, where the labyrinth of underground rooms and finds are on show. Lecce and this whole, often forgotten, corner of Italy was once a critical crossroads in the Mediterranean. Generation after generation of invaders and adventurers from the east and from the north passed through and left a wonderful legacy. Hike through the old 'trulli' village of Alberobello, with its 1,500 strange, conical dwellings, unique to the area. Matera - stone city And in Matera, picked as Italy’s European City of Culture for 2019, experience the extraordinary cave dwellings and subterranean rooms in a place hewn out of rock and inhabited for more than 9,000 years. Stay in the Sant’Angelo Hotel and dine by the light of candles in a space carved from the stone, or have a drink on the terrace and watch the changing light bathe the city as it seems to emerge from the rock face. To experience Puglia really is to hike through history. Click here to discover more about our Walk in a different kind of Italy.

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