The human civilisation owes a big "thank you" to Italy for many many things. The culture that promotes “Dolce far niente” as a living philosophy deserves to be followed in order to find the ultimate life joy. Meeting points and central places existed since the beginning of the civilisation. Even when it looks like an advanced urban planning, the need of meeting-point shaped forms of squares existed since forever. Along with Greece, the birthplace of the forum and agora, Italy is the notebook for “how one square should look like”. Through several examples, I would like to present to you the uniqueness and beauty of this Italian “invention”. Here we go, Piazzas in Italy: Piazza del Duomo, Lecce.
Lecce is a Baroque monument city in the southern Italy, and its central piazza, the Piazza del Duomo, is no doubt its charm. This piazza is a closed type piazza that even looks like an atrium. You can enter through one gate and fully enjoy the intimate atmosphere of this spot. In the past, the square used to be a courtyard during the day while it was closed with gates during the evening. At the entrance of the square, you can still see the large stumps of the gates. While you are here, you can enjoy the Duomo of Lecce, the Belltower, the Bishop’s Palace and the Seminary Palace.
Centrally placed on the square, is the Duomo of Lecce, the city’s cathedral. Originally it was built in the 12th century and restored in a Baroque style in the middle of the 17th by Giuseppe Zimbalo (the most famous baroque architect in Lecce). If you are eager to see more of his work, check out the Church of the Rosary, the lower facade of the Celestine Palace and the column of Saint Oronzo.
There is a catch though with this cathedral: it has in fact a "false" facade. When entering the square, you are witnessing the grandiose facade of the Duomo. However, this is not the main facade of the church, but an entrance leading you directly to a side aisle of the church! The principal facade is at the side and is not visible when entering the square.
The bell tower, constructed in the 17th century, again designed by architect Giuseppe Zimbalo, has a square shape and appears to be made of five tapered levels. The last one is surmounted by an octagonal majolica dome, on which there is an iron statue of Sant'Oronzo. It has a height of 72 meters and offers a magnificent view of the Adriatic Sea. On clear days even the mountains of Albania are visible. This piazza was once a courtyard with an entrance closed at night. Today, one of the most pleasant experiences you can have while in Lecce is being in this square during the sunset and enjoying the glowing local limestone.
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