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Clare
Clare

Day 8: Lecce and Polignano a Mare

After surviving another visit from the apartment lady with our breakfast this morning, we were off to visit the city of Lecce. Lecce is located about 150km to the south of Bari, in the "heel" of Italy, and should not be confused with the town of Lecco, which we visited at the end of August. I keep getting mixed up with the names, however, including when I was trying to look up the train times between Bari and Lecce, accidentally looking up the train times between Bari and Lecco instead, and almost concluding that we couldn't do it as a day trip after all, because it was going to take six hours and cost €100 xD

Catching the train to Lecce turned out to be more straightforward than getting the train to Alberobello yesterday, as the Lecce trains are part of the normal Italian train network run by Trenitalia. The tickets cost €10.50, which wasn't bad considering the distance involved, and the journey took roughly the same amount of time as Alberobello. We got the train from Bari at 10.05 and arrived in Lecce just before midday.

We'd heard Lecce described as "the Florence of southern Italy" so I was expecting great things. The area around the train station wasn't terribly scenic, but soon we found a gate into the historic old town.

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Things improved from there, as we found the first of many beautiful churches :)

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This sort of Baroque architecture is what Lecce is famous for.

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What I didn't know is that Lecce also has some Roman remains.

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This is Lecce's Roman amphitheatre.

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It was built in the second century AD and apparently could seat 25,000 people.

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Only part of the amphitheatre is visible today, as other monuments were built on top of it in subsequent centuries.

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The amphitheatre is now situated in a large square, where there is a large column erected to Lecce's patron saint, St Oronzo. This was donated to Lecce by the citizens of Brindisi, because St Oronzo apparently cured a plague in Brindisi.

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Following one of the roads off the square took us towards this church, which is dedicated to St Irene.

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St Irene was the patron saint of Lecce until 1656, at which point she was replaced by St Oronzo due to his plague-curing success.

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Around the corner from St Irene's church, we got our first glimpse of Lecce's cathedral.

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A cathedral was first built in Lecce in 1144, undergoing significant rebuilding in 1659.

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The northern facade features a statue of St Oronzo.

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It's an enormous cathedral, and very pretty :)

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We walked a bit further from the cathedral and found ourselves leaving the old town via another impressive gate.

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We walked back in again, past another impressive church, on the search for a place to have lunch.

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Eventually we found a little restaurant where we had pizza, wine, a large bottle of water and a side order of chips for Tim, all for this price :o

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After lunch, we couldn't resist going back to admire the cathedral once again.

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Then we went to look for a site which sounded quite impressive on the map: the castle of Charles V. When we found it, however, it didn't quite live up to expectations!

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We needed to catch the 16.00 train back from Lecce towards Bari, because we had a second place we wanted to visit today: Polignano a Mare. Polignano is a small town, about half an hour from Bari by train, and we had never heard of it at all, until the lady who owns our apartment mentioned it on Friday. Or, to be more precise, she told us in no uncertain terms that we must go there, and then when bringing our breakfast this morning, demanded to know whether we had been yet!  Our guidebook was strangely silent on what its charms might be, but as far as we could work out it was going to be a good place from which to take photos of the sea.

It took around an hour and a half to get from Lecce to Polignano, so it was early evening by the time we arrived. First impressions were that the town looked fairly ordinary, although there was a nice gate into the old town...

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...and a pleasant square in the centre of the town.

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We followed a series of little streets towards the sea.

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Eventually we got to a viewpoint from where we could see the cliffs on the edge of the town.

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The weather didn't seem as warm here as it had been in Lecce, and it was quite windy!

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The view in the opposite direction was amazing too, and showed how close the town is built to the sea.

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Because it was so windy, the waves were really beating against the cliffs.

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We walked around the town for a while and found a couple of other viewpoints from where we could admire the sea.

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Polignano is definitely in a spectacular location.

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In places it looks like the sea has eroded the rock so far that it would be quite a brave decision to live in one of these houses!

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The sea was particularly fierce here.

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The light was starting to fade by this point, so we made our way back to the train station to catch the train to Bari. Polignano was definitely worth seeing and at least when we get our breakfast tomorrow we will be able to confirm that we've been there xD

Edited by Clare

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