|Polignano a Mare|
|Main square old town|
|Polignano's narrow streets|
|Poignana Mare ravine & beach|
Our next stop, Lecce, has been called The Florence of the South thanks to an abundance of Baroque palaces and churches.
Baroque architecture began in the late 16th century and was as far removed from the simple churches we recently saw as possible. The style is very ornate and theatrical and was meant to signify the triumph and power of the Catholic Church. Some thought Lecce the most beautiful city in Italy while Marchese Grimaldi said the facade of Santa Croce made him think a lunatic was having a nightmare. Though Lecce was once a very important city in Italy, it doesn't seem possible that they ever had enough people to fill the 40 churches that are often just around the corner from one another.
|Fountain outside Charles V Palace|
|Duomo, Bishop's Palace & seminary|
|2nd century amphitheater|
Enticed by the pictures, we moved on to a resort in Otranto. While the grounds and sea were gorgeous, the rooms were the worst we have ever been in. Small, dark and dingy. Fortunately, we were able to cut our stay from 5 days to 2 and extended our stay in the next town, Castellaneta Marina on the Ionian Sea. It was like going from hell to heaven. One of the perks of traveling in the shoulder or off season is that you often receive an upgrade.
|Kalidria Hotel and grounds|
This is our last stop in the province of Puglia. Now we drive across the country -- what would be the arch of the boot -- to the west coast of Italy.