In the footsteps of pilgrims to De Finibus Terrae
What it is and where it is
For pilgrims on their way to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca, De Finibus Terrae, Leuca Piccola was certainly the most desired stop: the last before the final destination, the last before the fulfillment of a long journey to the salvation of the soul. It was a place of rest and prayer, certainly, but also a crossroads for the ancient sheep-tracks and a place teeming with life and trade. This is evidenced by the ruins that overlook the square: next to the small church with its imposing pronaos, here open up under large arches (7 remaining of the original 10) the stables with mangers, the farrier's store, the market warehouses, the inn... And three precious fresh water wells.
Why it is special
There are numerous reasons why I love this place. The epigraphs full of curiosities and anecdotes, the signs of wayfarers engraved in the rock, the idea of a "hospice" of the path for pilgrims, the frescoes, the secrets, the legends... Be sure to visit the dungeons or climb to the rooftop to see the entire Cape of Leuca. And get at least the story of the 10Ps...
Not to be missed
Outside the church, in the shade of a majestic carob tree, a flight of stairs leads to the hypogea, underground rooms created by digging around existing wells. Here pilgrims drew water for the last leg of their journey and could rest in small niches carved into the rock. The smoke from their oil lamps still blackens the walls. A long underground corridor runs all the way across the side of the road to the third well, the shallower but equally majestic one.
A bit of history
It was the priest Hannibal Capece who built this sort of "multipurpose center" in 1685. He was the scion of the baronial Capece family, feudal lords of Barbarano: their coat of arms, the rampant lion, is beautifully displayed at the entrance to the small church. His purpose was twofold: to welcome pilgrims and at the same time bring prestige to his lineage.
Like every traveler and pilgrim, you too will pause to read Don Hannibal's inscription on the front of the inn: "Ferma il piè, passegger / non dar più passo / che qui trovi commode rimesse / da Annibal Capece, il qual ci eresse / e le destinò pel forestier in spasso." A true ante-litteram tourism marketing manual, written in the stones of Leuca Piccola... in 1709. And the 10Ps? We reveal them to you, because they are still very relevant today: First Think, Then Speak. Because Words Scarcely Thought Bring Punishment.
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