MAGLIE – Day One

While it is possible to travel in the Salento region by train, it is much easier and quicker if you have a car.  Luckily, I was traveling with my friend, Susan, who decided to rent an automobile for this section of our trip.  I don’t drive, so the two of us came up with an agreement where she would be responsible for all of the driving and all of the car expenses, while I would cover all of the dinners while we were traveling together.  Susan arranged to rent a car from the Hertz rental office in Lecce.  According to the GPS on her cell phone, the rental office was located a short distance outside of the city walls, and was an easy walk from where we were both staying.  When we arrived at the address that we’d been given for the rental office, all that we found was an abandoned lot, full of overgrown grass and a bit of trash.  There weren’t many people out and about in this part of the city – at least on this particular day there weren’t, but we did ask a few people if they knew where the Hertz office was, only to have them look at us as if we were crazy, and walk away.  Then, I spotted a Hertz sign, off in the distance, about a block and a half away.  The address that we’d been given was wrong, but the place did exist.  We got the car, loaded our luggage into the trunk, and then set off on our journey.

Our next destination was the city of Maglie.  Since Maglie was only 30.5 km from Lecce, and we had at least two and a half hours before we could check into the hotel that we’d booked there, we decided to take back roads and to visit a few small towns on the way.  So, we got into the car, and literally just took any road that seemed to be going in the right direction, not really caring where we ended up.  IMG_2801We decided to stop in the town of Capranica di Lecce for a coffee and a quick look around.  IMG_2803IMG_2807IMG_2810We passed an olive oil producers showroom, but they were giving a tour to a group of school children and were not open to the general public.  IMG_2814IMG_2826We drove by a site called Kalos, which turns out to be a sort of archaeological amusement park.  It was closed, but we did manage to peek inside.IMG_2820IMG_2831We spent quite a decent amount of time driving along small roads, through olive groves.IMG_2834If we passed a town, we stopped and explored.  We were always happy that we did, as each place had it’s own charm and beauty.IMG_2836IMG_2838IMG_2839IMG_2840IMG_2842We arrived in Maglie around noon.  We had booked rooms at the Corte Dei Granai, a lovely B&B right in the center of the city.  IMG_3030IMG_2865IMG_2866IMG_2868IMG_2869I loved everything about this place!  IMG_2873IMG_2874IMG_2876IMG_2877IMG_2879Legend has it that the city of Maglie began as three separate areas – San Basilico, Sant’ Egidio & San Vito, which joined together, like links in a chain, to form the first settlement. IMG_2891The main square of the city is Piazza Aldo Moro.  It seems as if everyone passes through here, at one point or another, in the course of the day.  Maglie’s Town Hall, or Palazzo del Municipo is on this square.  I was enchanted by it’s clock.IMG_2893Also in the same Piazza is the Monument to Francesca Capece, by the sculptor Antonio Bortone.  As well as belonging to one of Maglie’s ruling families, Francesca was a benefactress of the city, testimony of which is the High School in the Piazza which bears her name.IMG_2898IMG_2894IMG_2902IMG_2903IMG_2906IMG_2908IMG_2922IMG_2927IMG_2934IMG_2940IMG_2942IMG_2948IMG_2955IMG_2959IMG_2964IMG_3299IMG_2967IMG_2973IMG_2977The Colonna della Madonna della Grazie is one of the symbols of the city of Maglie.  It stands 15 meters high and was erected between 1684 and 1687.  The statue of the Madonna at the top is not as old, however, as the original one was stuck by lightning and badly damaged.  The statue that now stands atop the column was made in 1926 by a sculptor from Maglie, Luigi De Pascalis.IMG_2978IMG_2953On the base of the column are four statues which portray the patron saints of Maglie: San Leonardo, San Nicola, Sant’ Oronozo and Sant’ Antonio of Padova.  IMG_3294IMG_3297While I found the column with its statues to be lovely, for me the real excitement came when I was able to see the original statue  – the one struck by lightning, which is now in the nearby Largo Madonna delle Grazie.  Even in it’s damaged state, or maybe because of the damage, this statue had a powerful effect over me.  IMG_2979IMG_2982IMG_2984IMG_2985IMG_2993IMG_3002IMG_3029IMG_3033Susan wasn’t feeling well, so I was on my own for dinner.  I ended up stumbling upon a place called Osteria La Trombettiera.  This is a small, family run place where is is possible to eat like a king and spend next to nothing.  I had an antipasto, a main dish of stewed horse meat which was incredibly delicious and tender, dessert, water, a liter of wine, and an amaro – all for under thirty euros.  I loved this place!  IMG_3041IMG_3017

 

Next up: More from Maglie, plus a short visit to the town of Galatina.

 

Note: this blog is written in English, and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any translations which may appear.  If you enjoyed this post, please visit our archives for more posts from Maglie, as well as other Italian destinations.  Grazie!

 

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