Tis Returns to Italy! Day 76: Completing a Challenge in Lecce

Published by Lisa Tisdale on

Today was all about completing a challenge. 

Ornate Baroque Chapel in the Duomo of Lecce Italy
Ornate Baroque Chapel in the Duomo of Lecce, Italy

After spending a few days together, my new friend Sarah and I discovered we have very different ideas about what qualifies as the best sights in a destination. After almost a week in Lecce, I had not been in any of the many beautiful baroque churches, accurately described as masterpieces. Sarah, on the other hand, had bought the all-inclusive ticket and visited all of them. Meanwhile, I had chosen to spend my time hanging out in the “Museum of Life”, otherwise known as finding various spots to sit and observe how the people of Lecce live.

Laying Down a Challenge

At our usual morning meeting for tea, we discussed what was left on our lists of things we wanted to see. Sarah wanted to go see some ruins near some other ruins she’d seen earlier to which I replied “Boring!!!”. I wanted to go into an “old man bar” on the Main Street that I had not yet visited to which she replied, “You like some weird s$!#.” 

As we were both horrified at how someone could miss seeing these gems that we found incredibly interesting, we decided to challenge each other. Sarah flatly refused to go into the old man bar in Lecce so I made her promise to go to the divey pub I’d liked in Bari, her next stop. In return, she challenged me to buy a ticket for the churches, and visit at least 3 of them. 

Challenge accepted!

Completing the Challenge

Sarah went off to explore her boring ruins while I headed to the first stop on the church tour. After buying my ticket, I headed to the first stop which was the Duomo. The guard punched my ticket for that stop and I walked inside. 

The exquisite beauty of this place was mind blowing. I’ve explored a lot of the world and seen many beautiful and distinct churches. However, the level of detail the baroque style must take is beyond my ability to comprehend. In Lecce, especially in the Duomo, some of the best baroque work is on display. 

While I stood captivated in front of the intricately carved chapels, I was incredibly grateful to Sarah. Oftentimes, life puts people in your way to open new doors. I was incredibly grateful to the universe for putting Sarah in my path. Without her insistence, I might have missed these beautiful baroque masterpieces, tucked away in Lecce, a destination not easily reached as in other parts of Italy.

Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce Italy
Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Croce

Overachieving on My Challege

Papier-Mâché Ceiling of Basilica of Santa Chiara in Lecce Italy
Papier-Mâché Ceiling of Basilica of Santa Chiara

To complete Sarah’s challenge, I only had to visit three churches. After seeing the Duomo, I could not imagine missing one and visited all four. They were all unique in their own beautiful baroque way. There was Santa Croce, whose richly ornate chapels in a more serene setting allowed the visitor to truly appreciate each of them. Next the Church of Santa Chiara featured a papier-mâché ceiling that makes the viewer think they are admiring a lovely carved wooden ceiling. Finally, the Church of San Matteo which Sarah had told me I could skip as there was nothing remarkable about it compared to the others. As I admired its ornate altar, I thought how Lecce’s citizens and tourists are quite fortunate if this is relatively unremarkable.  

As I left the Church of San Matteo, I heard beautiful music floating through the air. I followed the music to its source at the Porto San Biagio. A musician had rolled his piano under this gate to the city and was playing the enchanting music. It was the perfect ending to my tour of beauty. 

Saying Goodbye to Lecce

Sarah and I met later for dinner. We chose a square with a view of one of the churches we had explored. As we sat at our table with a view of the Church of Santa Chiara, I felt overwhelmed by the moment. There is such beauty in the world if we only take a moment to slow down and admire what is usually just within our grasp.

The setting seemed the perfect one in which to say “goodbye for now” to Lecce.

Basilica of San Matteo in Lecce Italy
Main Altar in the Basilica of San Matteo

Ciao for now!


Lisa Tisdale

Lisa Tisdale has traveled all over the world, writing about her experiences and making local contacts. She recently completed a three-month trip through Italy, exploring her favorite country’s food, wine, and sites, and making new friends!

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