She-Wolf and Oak Tree, Symbols of Lecce, on the Façade of the Church of Saint Irene
Baroque churches of Lecce are filled with putti frolicking amidst birds and pomegranates, twisting Solomonic columns covered with intricate lacelike carvings, images of saints and some of their bones.
Piazza del Duomo, Cathedral on left
Church of Saint Matthew, Chiesa di San Matteo
Altar dedicated to Saint Anthony
Altar to Saint Anthony
Bell tower adjacent to Cathedral
statue and reqliquary of Saint Bernardino Realino in Chiesa del Gesu
Saint Orontius in Diocesan Museum
keys to city presented to reliquary of Saint Bernardino Realino in Chiesa del Gesu
The patron of Lecce, Saint Orontius, atop the Cathedral
Baroque well in the cloisters of the Seminary Palace
Church of Saint Irene, Chiesa de Sant’Irene
Experienced travelers as we are, hopping a train for the short ride to Ostuni from Lecce was easy. The flaw in our plan was what to do on arrival. Oh, this is why some people rent cars.
A travel blogger wrote the walk from the station up into town was only a mile or two if cab or bus was unavailable. Neither materialized after what seemed a long wait, so we took off on foot. What the blogger had failed to mention was that the walk was on a stretch of a no-shouldered highway. A sympathetic young woman with a baby on board turned off into a driveway almost immediately to come to the rescue of the two wayward seniors. We gladly hopped in the car. Getting robbed or kidnapped appeared much less likely than getting hit by an automobile. She spoke no English, but went well out of her way to drop us in the center of town.
And everyone in this white-washed town in the heel of Italy was as helpful and friendly, approaching us to offer advice on finding our way around. We were there post-prime-tourist season, so had to navigate our way around the tangle of narrow streets to several restaurants before finding one open for lunch.
But that is both the beauty and fun of Ostuni. Street names change almost every block, and a “street” is often what appears a private stairway. When it came time to try to find the bus back, a trio of men directed us down several flights of unpromising-looking stairs to exactly the right spot where a piccolo autobus transported us and a trio of teens to the station.
Saint Orontius of Lecce
fish carpaccio at Il Pozzo dei Desideri
pasta at Il Pozzo dei Desideri
The statue atop the column in the middle of a plaza is Ostuni’s patron saint, Saint Orontius of Lecce. The first Bishop of Lecce, he was executed for his Christian faith by axe by a representative of Roman Emperor Nero. But of particular relevance today are the miracles he was credited with centuries later. Residents of Lecce claimed he ended an outbreak of the plague there in 1656, and in Turi it is said he brought an outbreak of cholera to an end in 1851. Better known, Saint Sebastian must be swamped with requests for protection from Covid-19, so maybe light a candle to Saint Orontius as well.
As for the bicycle perched above a rooftop? Pure whimsy.