The palace and its history
historical hints from 15th and 18th century

In the most ancient part of Lecce, behind the Cathedral, there is Palazzo Sambiasi. It was built during the 15th century by Scipione Sambiasi of Nardò on the occasion of his marriage with Donata Sombrino. Previously, in that area there were little houses and gardens.

The Sambiasis settled in Lecce at the end of the 17th century and, on that occasion they restored the ancient sixteenth-century building. Its wood front door is among the most majestic and important example of the architectural style of that age.

The architect Emanuele Manieri, appointed by the family during the second half of the eighteenth century, modified some parts of the ancient building such as the hallway and the doors. He also built a balcony under the arch on the front wall of the house. This rendered the intercommunication stairs more visible. The palace was completed only in 1835.

The Sambiasis are a branch of the Sanseverino Family, whose progenitor was Ruggero, Lord of Martorano; Ruggero, in order to escape Guglielmo il Malo, sheltered in Calabria where his family owned a manor. The family name is derived from the name of the manor itself. Other researchers, on the contrary, argued the family to be descended from Saint Biagio (Sancto Blasio); in order to remember the martyrdom the Saint underwent, the family decided to put on its family crest, the iron comb used to flay him, while still alive; on the same crest there would be the mount where the martyrdom happened.


The family crest can be seen in the hallway of the palace, upon the entrance of the ancient chapel that at present there is the holiday home Basseo33.

On august 5th 1860, Luigi Sambiasi was appointed mayor and swore allegiance to Francesco II, King of “Le Due Sicilie”; so, he was the first mayor of Lecce when the Kingdom of Italy was unified in 1861. He devoted to the local administration, as witnessed by a letter he sent, on December 10th 1860, to the Governor of the province of  Lecce. In this letter he wrote about the inadequacy of the town, due to a not at all vigorous economy; he also wrote about the terrible conditions of the town streets, full of big potholes, sometimes full of smelly and unhealthy water, certainly not safe fore the inhabitants. So the mayor Sambiasi and his deputation for public works, asked the Governor an intervention in order to fix the streets with a suitable paving.

In 1884 the palace was auctioned. The new owners were two brothers: Alcide and Amilcare Foscarini, who paid £ 65,000 for it.

This branch of the Foscarini family detached from the original stump of Lecce at the beginning of the nineteenth century with Gio. Battista (1801 -1880). This branch became renowned also thanks to Amilcare (1858- 1936) who was an eminent historian and heraldist; he used the same chest of the main branch of the family.

When Alcide was the only owner left, on January 31st 1907, he made a disposal of property in favour of his wife Vincenza De Giuseppe, through a  notarial deed signed by the notary Pasquale Lala. In 1943, Vincenza gave the property of the palace to her children Michele and Gilda. When they died, the only owner was Maria Teresa Foscarini-Nardecchia. In 1966 she married Luigi Antonio Montefusco, leading the palace as her dowry. From that moment, on the arch in front of the stairs, there is the chest of the Montefusco family.