Thursday, November 2, 2017

Italia 2017 - Lecce

Just for the record, Lecce, the largest city in the Salento area is named not for milk (as it might sound in Spanish) but for the word for Oak Trees. We had read that Lecce's wealth really came into its own during the late 17th century through the 19th century. This was a period of stable international politics in the area so the natural wealth of the area could be accumulated and used to build and develop. Hence the story of the Lecce is that while its history goes back millennia, the outstanding architectural and art style is Baroque. I will start by saying that the Baroque and its subsequent style, the Rococo are among my least favorite. So I was expecting to be overwhelmed with the great excess that I've come to expect of Baroque in areas like Austria. Instead what happened was an introduction to a whole different aspect of the Baroque.

I decided at the last minute to see if I could get a couple of hour private walking tour. I found an independent woman and was able to book her with just a days notice (it is the end of October...and advantage to touring off season). She was a wealth of information. Once she realized that I had a pretty good historical base of knowledge, she gave me much more detail and we had some very good discussions. I ended up taking a scad of pictures.

After spending our two hours with her and seeing a whole bunch, she proclaimed that we had pretty much seen what there was to see in Lecce. She suggested we go to Otranto on the coast because there was a fabulous mosaic floor on the Cathedral and today was the last day one could see it before they closed the Cathedral to do repairs on the roof. So we did as suggested.

Entering Lecce through the Napoli Gate and the Obelisk

The Hapsburg family coat of arms
This is made of paper mache
Turns out that paper mache is a prominent material for creation of church figures, particularly those that might be carried as part of a procession
This firm has been doing these for centuries
Returning to our theme from yesterday of figures that ward off evil and balconies

These were taken from a palazzio of a wealthy family that has had it for centuries. 
Of note as we saw yesterday, much less is spent on the exterior decoration. Our guide told us that the interiors of these mansions were spectacular.
Also note that the figures under the balconies include both sacred and non-sacred images.
According to our guide this was one of the prime themes of the Lecce Baroque - the understanding that there was what was good of this world as well as what should be pursued spiritually

On to the Cathedral and the most famous image in Lecce, the bell tower
 Please note that the facade on your left is not an integral part of the building
It was added during the Baroque period
Also note that by Baroque standards it (and what one sees inside) are pretty restrained.
This restrain on the use of embellishment is what distinguishes the Lecce Baroque from that of the Hapsburgs to the north.

Note the decorative tile that was put at the very top of the bell tower

Our guide pointed out this picture after I had told her earlier of how impressed I was with the emotion I was seeing on images.
This is on the ceiling and it is unusual for a Last Supper because of the individual emotion that is being shown. Note the one disciple next to Jesus who looks like he has nodded off. Others are having individual discussions. I asked her which was Judas. She didn't know. But when I looked at it more closely I saw this figure bending down with a bag...a bag of gold coins perhaps? And there is a cat like figure under the table...a symbol of a demon or Satan?

Many years in one location
These are three buildings on a corner that I took standing in one spot
A 17th century church
A neoclassical building from the 19th century
A Baroque era Palazzo

It has become very chic to live in the city now and the old Palazzo's are being bought up and renovated. This one still has work to be done on its windows.
At another Piazza 
A Roman amphitheater with a 15th century portion of the old town hall
The same amphitheater and seeing a Mussolini era fascist style building and looking on to the Medieval bell tower
Turning around on saw at Baroque church
Still further an art deco clock from the early 20th century
And a modern McDonald's
The use of limestone
Means fossils
Scallop shells and a small crab

Street scene
Street food
Horse meat sandwich
In case your dying and can't wait to get to Amsterdam

On to Otranto
Conquered by the Turks in the late 15th century it fell back to the Catholics very soon afterward
The fortress
A church we couldn't get into
The Cathedral's Baroque facade from the 16th century build after the Turkish destruction.
The interior with a unique (to us) tile interior ceiling

And the main attraction
The mosaics
Done in the the middle of the 12th century by a monk, they represent the cycle of sin to redemption with many scenes from the Old Testament

Relics of martyrs from the Turkish attack
A Medieval era bell tower and bells



Anonymous said...

Lovely picture!!

Agent W and the Derf said...

Great photos!

alexis said...

looks like you had beautiful weather too