friends, Apulia is a real wonder and every day we are making new discoveries.
For the real megalithomaniacs, in the last two days we visited a great
deal of sites, thanks also to the excellent weather. So, we explored
five beautiful dolmens (Grassi, Chiancuse,
and Gurgulante) and 20 standing
stones. Some of these stones now stand near modern churches (Madonna
di Costantinopoli, Montevergine,
while others are in villages' squares (Croce,
Trice), and many of them are near crossroads
I, Vicinanze II, Franite,
La Cupa, Supersano,
Curti Vecchi). If you'd like to
see the beutiful locations of some of these ancient sites, you can have
a look at the panoramic movies of Grassi
and Placa dolmens.
But, besides the megalithic monuments, Apulia has got other many precious artistic treasures. In the last days we visted two Byzantine little jewels: Santa Marina in Muro Leccese, with remains of beautiful frescoes and Santa Maria della Croce in Casaranello (Casarano) with a splendid Byzantine mosaic and some remarkable frescoes of Saints. Finding this church has been an adventure (the road signs indicating the right direction suddenly disappeared) and even getting into it wasn't easy: outside the church a panel said it was open from 8 AM to 8 PM, but in reality it was hopelessly closed. Anyway, as in a corner of the church's door there was a written note saying to look for a certain Mr.Pellegrino, we found him and asked him to let us visit the church, please. So we managed to have a look at the inside of this beautiful place, but it was hard!
We visited also Otranto cathedral and its outstanding mosaic that covers the church floor like a large carpet. It was created in 1166 by the priest and artist Pantaleone and it is full of strange animals and monsters, and Bible's and historical figures. Inside the cathedral, in a chapel, are also the remains of about 800 men killed by the Saracens in 1480. It is also visible the rocky block where the poor fellows had their heads cut off. A scary place indeed...
At the end, just a quick note on the delicious cooking of Salento (the area around Lecce). Yesterday night ourt friends Marcello and Rosy invited us for dinner: so we could experience once again the extraordinary ospitality of the Salento people. And we could taste some excellent local food, as the sagne ncannulate (a kind of home made pasta), a lot of fish, a marvellous cake and some fantastic liqueurs based on lemon (limoncello), tangerine (mandarinetto), walnut (nocino) home made by Rosy (she's a superb cook! Thanks again dear Rosy).
Now it's time to leave our hotel room: we haven't got any plans for today yet. If it will rain, we will probably visit some museum or library in Lecce. Otherwise, we will head South down to the tip of Apulia, the Leuca area. Follow the last page of our diary in the next few days and you'll know...
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