A portal to Lecce’s past

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Imagine buying a house to open a restaurant. There’s a plumbing problem and you open up the floor to investigate.

That’s what Lecce’s Luciano Faggiano did but then it gets incredible. “We found underground corridors and other rooms, so kept digging” said Mr Faggiano to the New York Times.

Seven years later, and all self-funded, his house is now the “Museo Faggiano”. We were intrigued to climb down to a subterranean world stretching back before the birth of Jesus – a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary and a Franciscan chapel. There was even a room where decomposing bodies were left to drip dry.

Of course we loved seeing all the Baroque buildings in Lecce’s historic centre, but it is the story behind this museum that made the day. Luciano roped in his three sons to help with the excavations without letting on to his wife who thought they were simply building the trattoria. His wife Anna though soon became suspicious. “We had all these dirty clothes every day,” she said. “I didn’t understand what was going on.”

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