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.