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May 21, 2006

Otranto - Lecce, 59 km

 As we set out, we find an official bicycle path, a percorso cicloturistico, away from the traffic and idyllic. Unfortunately it is limited to approximately 10 km and we again resort to the normal roads. Today is Sunday and many Italians are out on their racing bikes but we also see many people on mountain bikes in the most fashionable biking apparel. And because we have perfect weather and it is Sunday there are many cars on the road on their way to the beaches.

When we leave the coast and head inland toward Lecce we have the road to ourselves.

 

We pass through Acaia, a fortified town with castello and wall, planned by a famed military architect of the time, Gian Giacomo dell'Acaya. In the 16th century, Apulia had been given a leading role as frontier post on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, protecting what were then Spanish occupied towns from the Venetians and Turkish invaders.

 

Today the castello and wall are an ambitious construction site aiming at restoring the fortress to its former splendor and attracting tourists.

In the early afternoon we reach Lecce, known for its exuberant Baroque. Again the streets and squares are deserted at this time of day, but this time we know it will be different in a few hours. In fact the evening corso is so overwhelming it is almost impossible to make ones way through the crowded streets - and I'm not talking about on a bicycle but on foot. The empty streets are ideal for looking around and taking a few pictures.

Corbelled balconies in finest Lecce Baroque

The decorations in the Lecce buildings are concentrated on the fašades, in the courtyards, on the corbelled balconies. This decorative abundance has been possible thanks to the high malleability of the Lecce stone.

 

More examples of  Lecce Baroque

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