city history

Roman’s Lecce


3rd century BC – 4th century AC

The origins of Lecce date back to the Messapic age (700 BC) even if the first documents date back to the Roman Age. The Romans named this town Lupiae.

The Roman Republic conquered this region in 268 BC and in 266 BC. This conquest was violent and strong but soon the Romans were generous and benevolent so that, after a first period of rebellion, the local populations of the ancient town of Lupiae were always faithful to Rome. This peaceful coexistence gave great splendour to Lupiae.

All historians agree on the idea that a first Roman colony was created in Lupiae in 102 BC and a second one in 75 BC, under the Emperor Vespasian. For the Romans, their colonies were nothing but places where to practice agriculture; they built their colonies in breeding and already walled and fortified places, in order to offer a valid defence to the Empire.

The territories were partly given to the local populations and partly given to the Roman military legions that independently managed the cultivation: the land was cultivated by the army captains themselves.

At the centre of Lecce, in its main square devoted to the Patron Saint Oronzo, you can admire the Roman Amphitheatre. It was rediscovered in 1900thanks to the work of the Professor Cosimo de Giorgi who read something about its existence in Vitruvio’s documents. The magnificent monument is made of Pietra Leccese but it also had coloured and white marble parts. Thanks to the discovery of these marble bas-reliefs we can know the kind of shows that had place in this amphitheatre: mainly shows with gladiators and wild animals like lions and tigers.

Lo stemma Sambiasi

The land did like itself the people breed, The soil is gentle, smooth, soft, delicate

(T. Tasso – Gerusalemme liberata, I 62 – 1585)

The Roman Amphitheatre, dating back to the 2nd century AD, was built by Epitincano and Vispana Elice, relatives of Sesto Silezio who it was dedicated to. Studying the epigraphs discovered here we can know the names of the council of four people who administrated the Roman colony of Lecce. After Sesto Silezio, there was the government of Marco Basseo, Lucio Epulione, Quinto Fabio Baldo and Quinto Valerio. They had the assignments to receive the tributes, to administrate the justice and to organize the shows of Gladiators.

Lo stemma Sambiasi

In the same period the Roman Theatre was built. Thanks to the sculptures found there, we can date it back to the Antonini Age.

Lo stemma Sambiasi

All the artifacts found during the archaeological excavations are kept in the museum Sigismondo Castromediano that is few hundreds of metres far from our vacation home.

Lo stemma Sambiasi

Museo Sigismondo Castromediano – Viale Gallipoli