Faggiano Museum (Museo Faggiano)
Lecce’s sumptuous 17th-century baroque architecture immediately catches the eye, but the city has a history that stretches as far back as the Greek empire. Trace its evolution through the millennia at the Museo Faggiano, a private residence now home to an eclectic archaeological museum with excavated artifacts and ruins.
Known by the Greeks as Messapi, Lecce later became an important trading post during the Roman Empire and a center of learning in the Middle Ages. At the Museo Faggiano, layer upon layer of the city’s past was unearthed during excavations under the Faggiano family’s home and is now displayed against a backdrop of bare plaster walls marked with inscriptions from the Knights Templar. Discoveries include a Roman altar, a well that reaches down to the underground Idume River, medieval walls, the remnants of a Franciscan convent, and a subterranean passageway thought to run all the way to the center of town. Scattered among the pottery shards, cisterns, and crumbling statues on display are some more grisly finds, including the tomb of a newborn baby and bones from the deceased buried by the convent nuns.
The Museo Faggiano is home to an eclectic mix of archaeological artifacts and ancient passageways, so it’s best to visit the museum as part of a guided tour to put the collection and excavations into context. Join a tour of the museum that also includes visits to Lecce’s later baroque masterpieces like the Duomo, Basilica di Santa Croce, and Chiesa di Santa Chiara.
Things to know before you go
- A visit to the Museo Faggiano is especially interesting for ancient and Medieval history buffs.
- The museum is not accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Some of the underground cisterns and passageways can be cool, even in summer. A light jacket is recommended.
How to get there
The Museo Faggiano is the historic center of Lecce, a short walk from the main Piazza Sant’Oronzo, Piazza del Duomo, and train station.
When to get there
Lecce can be very hot in the summer, with little shade for respite. Visit the cooler underground museum in the midday hours for a welcome break from the heat.
Lecce’s Later Baroque
The Museo Faggiano traces Lecce’s history from ancient times to the Middle Ages, but the city is most famous for its magnificent churches and palaces, made from intricately carved Lecce stone and dating from the 17th-century. Considered masterpieces of the baroque style, the most famous examples include the Cathedral (Duomo), the Basilica of Santa Croce, and the Church of Santa Chiara.