Social dinner and drinks in amongst the historical sights of Lecce.
Palazzo Turrisi - Palumbo dates back to the 17th century and is located between Via Basseo, Vico dei Sotterranei and Corte degli Anibaldi in Lecce's historic centre. The palace was built as a house for a noble family, the Turrisi - Palumbo family, and later passed to the Archiepiscopal Curia. It is one of Lecce's jewels. Already from the courtyard one can see the richness of the columns, decorations and arches, in which the ever-present Lecce Stone (“Pietra Leccese”) is clearly visible.
The monumental complex of the Torre del Parco was built in 1419 by Giovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo, not yet Prince of Taranto. The Tower, more than 23 metres high and built on three levels, is surrounded by a moat which bears the heraldic symbol of the Orsini del Balzo family. It is one of the most important examples of fortified architecture from the first half of the 15th century in Salento. In 1434, it became the seat of the Concistorium Principis, a mediaeval court of law; the State Mint; in the years 1458-1461, the Tower became a prison and the 'lamentations' of the prisoners are still visible today on the walls of the lower floor of the fortress. Later, the complex became home to the various governors who alternated in Lecce: from Ferrante Loffredo to Ferrante Caracciolo.
The Thursday afternoon excursion will take you to any of these places.
Lecce, the cultural fulcrum of Salento (Apulia), is one of the most beautiful art cities in southern Italy, known as the "Florence of the South". It is both a city of history and art: its ancient Messapian origins and its archaeological ruins left behind after Roman domination, fuse with the richness and exuberance of the Baroque churches and buildings dated back to 1600. It also combines elements of Greek, Arab and Norman presence and culture. The original style of this city is enriched by the characteristic color - dazzling in the sunshine - of its buildings, made of a local chalky material called "Lecce stone".
Lecce is also a capital of Italian cooking built on a local tradition of simple ingredients and robust red wines. Century-old olive groves stretch over the countryside, whereas a short distance away are wild beaches with a clear azure sea famous for diving and picturesque rocky caves.
The Porto Selvaggio Park, covering approximately 1,100 hectares, was created in the 1950s thanks to a landscape redevelopment project. The Park overlooks the Ionian coast for about 7 kilometres where there is one of the most important historical settlements, the Grotta del Cavallo. The first urban settlements, dating back 35,000 years, with a series of important archaeological finds was recently uncovered there. Also in the park is the Grotta delle Corvine, one of the most impressive underwater caves with a rich marine fauna - bream, hermit crabs, clams -. Alongside these wonders of nature, the park is also home to three ancient defensive towers: Torre dell'Alto, Torre Inserraglio, and Torre Uluzzu, all well preserved.
The Egnatia Archaeological Museum is part of the Egnatia Park and is surrounded by the excavated remains of the ancient city. It stands in the area of the Messapian necropolis and tells the story of the urbanisation of the city from the 16th century B.C. onwards through different phases such as Messapian, Roman, late antique and medieval. Of the Messapian phase of Egnatia, the defence walls and the necropolis with pit, half-chamber, and chamber tombs are still visible. The Romanesque remains include the Via Traiana, the Civil Basilica with the Hall of the Three Graces, the Sacellum of the Eastern Gods, the porticoed square, the cryptoporticus and the baths. Finally, there are the Christian places of worship, built between the 4th and 6th centuries AD. Don't miss the Episcopal Basilica with its baptistery and the Southern Basilica, once with mosaic floors.