Head over Heels – Lecce, Italia – 18 ottobre 2015

It’s Sunday.  It’s a beautiful morning.  Our Ostuni apartment has a large terrace overlooking the town, but, it also has a terrace at the front door.  This is the view.  It really is a great way to start the day.

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You know that feeling of elated anticipation?  That feeling of waiting for something remarkable to happen, but, not wanting to rush it once it’s here?  That’s how I feel about visiting Lecce.  I’m trying to find a place I’d like to live in Italy.  Lucca and Perugia are high on my list.  Maybe, surprisingly, even Napoli, but…  Something is telling me Lecce might hold the key.

I saw this feather on the street as we walked from the apartment to the piazza to catch the bus.  It reminded me of a story we heard in Pompeii.  The guides told us people  would tickle their throats with a feather to induce vomiting – so, they could return to their gluttonous meals.  How’s that for disgusting?

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We caught the 7:25 am bus (€0,90) from the piazza to the train station and then the 8:04 am train (€10,50) to Lecce.  The train takes about an hour to get to Lecce.  There are less expensive trains, almost half the price, at other times of the day. 

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Those of you who know me, know I am not an early riser.  I am the ‘stay up until 2 am and get up at 9 am’ person.  These early mornings are painful.  Compromise is tiring, isn’t it?  It will be worth it, today!

We saw this as we were leaving the Lecce train station.  The advantage of the two-handled duffel.  It was about a 10-minute walk from the station to the historical city center.

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Well,  by now, almost everyone knows my iPhone was stolen in Napoli weeks ago.  And, I lost my camera, but got it back.  If you find yourself without a smart phone (or a connection), take a photo of the You Are Here (Voi Siete Qui) maps.  They come in handy!  I need a compass, too.  I’ll have to remember to attach an inexpensive one to my pack next trip.  Or, take better care of my phone which had a great compass!  I remember seeing a bin of compasses at a sporting goods store in Colorado.  I don’t any of them agreed on North!

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Prepare to be inundated with photographs!  When you see someplace that might become a part of your life, you start making memories immediately.

Big windows. Big doors!

 

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I want to be wide awake for this day  – which means C O F F E E !  The espresso here was less than a euro and absolutely perfect.  And,  I love those lights.  Pretty clever…

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There were few people out and about this morning – probably sleeping!  Nary a car in sight.

 

Lecce, with its Baroque architecture, is often referred to as the Florence of the South.  These photos were taken at Piazza del Duomo.

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Lecce enlarged

Enlargement of the above photo…

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Hell on wheels – soon to be hell in heels!

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He pulled up on his bike.  Walked in.  And, came out a few minutes later.  A short prayer.  Little to confess.

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I always take notice of accessibility signs – and, try to decide whether my sister could really get around the place, or not.

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Double parked.

 

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Such a Mediterranean feel to this photo.

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The architectural details, the peeling paint and the tiny clothes pins..

 

 

A reminder of Colorado.  I love to browse book stores in Italy.  I take the opportunity to stock up on greeting cards!  The clerk in this particular store was very patient with me – and, my neonatal Italian.  Generally, I have found this to be the case in il mezzogiorno.

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The animal kingdom supporting the balcony.

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I don’t know how this woman found the time to weave baskets.  Wow!  I’ve never seen anyone smoke cigarettes with such voracity.

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Montana is Italian for Montana.

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Scaffolding didn’t stop us from admiring this building.

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<<<Villa Comunale di Lecce – the main green space in the historic center.  There were plenty of benches, shade, a fountain and music.

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>>>

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I look at a home and try to picture myself living there.  Look!  One of the decorative ceramic toppers on the balcony.

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Somebody is about to get ambushed.

 

The pigeon porta potty.

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This was a chatty catty – but, tired all of the same.

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Missing its better half.

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Arco di Trionfo di Carlo V (Porta Napoli) – I’m the 5’10” figure under the arch!

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Full on attack from the pigeons!

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A little insight…

 

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I wonder how many people can’t resist this doorknocker.

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Time to buy olive oil, fig reduction, coffee and cheese!

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If you have OCD, this is not the balcony for you.  I see some positive points about the slant, though.

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Oops!

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For the afternoons of eating, resting and making love.

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Mocking the mime.

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Wranglers in Italy?!

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I liked this street musician – Amy did not.

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And, so it is!

 

Our Lonely Planet meal suggestions didn’t pan out, so, we chose this restaurant.  We were the only customers and sat outdoors.  It was a very quiet street.  Before long, there were more customers and we were able to resume people-watching.

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When we were leaving, I heard a man comment to his lunch companions about the stranieri – which is the Italian word for ‘foreigners’.  In a very polite and friendly tone, I told him, in Italian, that we were, indeed, stranieri.  Italians seemed to be shocked to find out you speak and understand a bit of Italian.  His attitude changed from smug to friendly and he engaged us in conversation.  He was from Milan – and, his parents lived in Ostuni.  They seemed very pleased when we told them that’s where we were staying.  I would never discourage anyone from talking to strangers – they may turn out to be your new best friend!

 

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This was motorized – with training wheels!

 

Amphitheatre Romano

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Love the McDonald’s in the background – not!

 

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We don’t know what this place is.  It was fenced off and there were no signs.  But, the buildings and grounds caught our eye.

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Love the pink bicycle in front of the wedding dress shop!

 

So, we stumbled across this private museum.  We gave each other the perchè no shrug of the shoulders and went inside.  Maybe you read their story in the New York Times?  The story of a home repair – gone historical!  (There was a €3 entrance fee.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/world/europe/centuries-of-italian-history-are-unearthed-in-quest-to-fix-toilet.html?

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This young man is one of the sons of Luciano Faggiano.  His passion for his family’s work was palpable.  Photos were allowed inside, but, I took few.  After the self-guided tour, this man sat down in front of us, like a parent having a heart-to-heart with his children and talked about the adventure in Italian – very slowly.  I think we understood most of what he said.  And, he let us flip through the photo albums.

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The pottery shards in the wall caught my eye!

 

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We resumed our walk after touring the museum.

 

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Boot and bonnet baskets.

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I liked her hair, but, that top makes for a lot of reading!

 

 

Ahhh…the old water bottle in the doorway technique.  Supposedly, this keeps cats from urinating on the doorstep.  I suggest spaying and neutering your cats!

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“You gotta cat  problem?!  I can help you with that!”

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Synchronize those smart phones!

 

 

We headed back to Ostuni – and, browsed the shops from the piazza to our apartment.  Amy’s been eyeing a lamp.  While she went in a shop to look at the lamp, again, I stood outside the store eating my gelato (during the passeggiata – the nightly evening stroll).  I saw an older man sitting on a stoop and commented on the beautiful evening.  He started talking/mumbing to me in Italian . I told him I understood little of what he was saying, but… I asked him if I could sit with him and he nodded his head . So, I sat and he continued to talk.  He told me he was 97 years old.  Then, he put his arm around me and we just watched the people walk by.  Imagine my surprise when he tried to kiss me – as in smack dab on the lips!  Got to love Italian men?!  A few minutes later, his daughter came by to pick him up in her car.  He waved and blew me kisses from the car window.  She has her hands full!

I feel a cold coming on – guess I haven’t been wearing enough neck scarves.  Tomorrow is our last full day before we head back to the States.

I’ll be dreaming of Lecce when my head hits the pillow, tonight…  I loved it.  There is easy access to Trenitalia.  It’s less than 10 km to the sea.  The people are friendly.  It’s flat!  The streets aren’t cobblestone – I could probably wear heels and not turn an ankle.  These are important considerations, don’t you think?  Time will tell.

 

 

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