If you look at a map of Italy you will see that it’s shaped like a high-heeled boot. This week I’ve been in Lecce, an ancient city in the center of the heel. There was an organized society living here 4000 years before the Romans came. The Appian Way, the most famous Roman road, ended here. In the next 1000 years or so following the demise of Rome a highly successful agricultural economy based on olive oil and wine developed here with Lecce the financial capitol. Some of the merchants and financiers became extraordinarily wealthy. They built massive, ornate homes that continue to exist today. They financed the building of a great many baroque and rococo churches.
I’ve been wandering through a maze of narrow streets that wind around those palaces (palazzi in Italian) for several days, getting lost every time I venture out, feeling grateful that the historic district of the town is too small to become permanently lost in. Google maps led me home most days. Let me show you a bit of what I’ve been seeing: