Após dois anos de obras, Igreja de Santa Maria da Alcáçova abre as portas para mostrar as suas três naves, capela-mor profunda e um órgão com 640 tubos, datado do início do século XIX.
Fundada em 1154 por iniciativa de um mestre templário, a Igreja de Santa Maria da Alcáçova, capela do primeiro Paço Real de Santarém, vai reabrir no sábado depois de décadas de abandono e graças a recentes obras de restauro.
O templo não apresenta qualquer vestígio da sua traça original, uma circunstância já sublinhada em meados do século XIX por Almeida Garrett, no livro “Viagens na Minha Terra”.
O restauro da igreja, cuja estrutura actual resulta da campanha realizada entre 1715 e 1724 por iniciativa do Conde de Unhão, deixou a descoberto detalhes das intervenções realizadas nos séculos XVI (como o arco do altar) e XIX (o cadeiral da Capela-Mor, a decoração e o órgão), mas também um capitel romano existente numa das colunas que separam as naves.
Eva Raquel Neves, da Comissão Diocesana para os Bens Culturais da Igreja, disse à agência Lusa que durante muitos anos a igreja serviu de arrecadação, sendo a informação relativa ao último cónego-mor datada de Outubro de 1904, altura em que a diocese pediu a extinção definitiva da Real Colegiada de Santa Maria da Alcáçova (criada em finais do século XII), dada a existência de um único cónego já octogenário.
Composta por três naves e capela-mor profunda, em abóbada de berço com caixotões de cantaria, o interior da igreja é revestido a pintura decorativa de tons vermelhos e amarelos, com relevos de grinaldas (que remete para uma decoração mais civil do que religiosa), tendo na base azulejos dos finais do século XVIII com temática alusiva às litanias (oração em ladainha) de Nossa Senhora.
O órgão que se encontra no coro-alto da igreja (o sétimo a ser restaurado no centro histórico de Santarém), com 640 tubos, está datado entre 1820 e 1822, tendo sido construído por António Joaquim Peres Fontanes, um trabalho português coincidente com a prática musical da época e que será tocado no sábado pelo organista Rui Paiva, durante a inauguração presidida pelo secretário de Estado da Cultura.
A obra de requalificação, iniciada em 2013 e agora concluída, resultou de uma parceria entre a Diocese de Santarém e a Direcção Regional de Cultura de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (que deu lugar à Direcção-Geral do Património Cultural) e da candidatura a fundos comunitários, que financiou metade do custo global da intervenção (da ordem dos 210 mil euros).
De fora da intervenção ficou a sacristia, cujo tecto, datado de 1637 e exibindo as armas do Conde de Unhão, a Diocese quer ainda tentar recuperar, disse Eva Neves.
A tela existente na capela-mor (de Cyrillo Machado, século XIX) mostra D. Afonso Henriques a entregar o Eclesiástico de Santarém ao procurador dos Templários (um “prémio” pela participação da Ordem na conquista de Santarém, em 1147, que veio a ser contestado pelo bispo de Lisboa, obrigando o rei a anular a doação em 1159).
A igreja, que acolheu uma das Colegiadas mais importantes do país, com cerca de 20 cónegos, terá sido fundada em 1154 pelo mestre templário Hugo Martins e tido por construtor o frade Pedro Arnaldo, segundo a inscrição colocada sobre a porta principal.
Classificada em 1984 como imóvel de interesse público, foi ainda alvo de uma campanha nos anos 90 do século XX, que deu origem a alguns trabalhos arqueológicos.
A igreja situa-se junto ao actual Jardim da Porta do Sol, que preserva parte das muralhas de Santarém, e paredes meias com a Casa-Museu Passos Canavarro, que foi a residência de Passos Manuel, onde pernoitou Almeida Garrett na visita que lhe fez no verão de 1843 e que deu origem às “Viagens na Minha Terra”, onde deixou uma descrição demolidora do que encontrou naquela que fora “a quase catedral da primeira vila do reino”.
July 3, 1187 was a scorching midsummer day at the Horns of Hattin, on the plateau above Tiberias. The Arab leader Saladin outwitted and crushed a parched and ill-led Crusader army, and the 88-year-long Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem began disintegrating almost overnight. Exactly three months later, Saladin entered the Holy City of Jerusalem in triumph. By the end of the year it was all over, and the Crusaders abandoned the Holy Land with their tail between their legs.
Only one powerful castle remained to fight a defiant rearguard action: Belvoir – “beautiful view” – on a ridge 500 meters (1,600 feet) above the Jordan Valley.
The Knights Hospitallers, one of the Crusader orders of “fighting monks” (the Templars were another) had bought the site from a French nobleman in 1168 and constructed one of the dominant castles in the kingdom, designed to guard the Holy Land against invasion from the east.
Belvoir’s building stones and bedrock foundations are basalt, the region’s immensely hard volcanic rock: undermining the battlements was virtually impossible. The outer walls of the castle form a pentagon, with the main defensive towers at each of its four corners, a massive one at the eastern point facing the steep slope and the valley below, and smaller ones midway along each wall.
The fortress was protected by a dry moat excavated out of the bedrock, 20m (65 ft.) wide and 12m (39 ft.) deep, and crossed by a drawbridge (now a permanent pedestrian bridge) on the west.
The ruined north-western and south-western corner towers still have parts of the steep stairwell leading down to postern gates, used for secret access to and from the castle, or for sudden attacks on besieging enemy soldiers in the moat.
Ignore the directional arrows. The best route to take is the wide gravel path directly from the parking lot to the overlook, keeping the sculpture park on your right and the castle on your left. What awaits you is a stunning view of the quilted farms in the valley, the biblical Gilead range (now Jordan) to the east, and the edge of Lake Kinneret, or Sea of Galilee, way off to the north (your left).
The straight line that joins the lake, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea is part of the approximately 6,000 km-long (3,700-mile) Great Syrian-African Rift, the world’s longest open fault.
The Arabic name for the site is Kaukab al-Hawa, the “Star of the Wind,” because of the strong breezes that often sweep the plateau. In Hebrew it is known as Kochav Hayarden, the “Star of the Jordan,” recalling the ancient Jewish town of Kochav nearby.
Both names are consistent with the description of the site by a medieval Arab writer. Belvoir, he wrote, is “set amidst the stars like an eagle’s nest and abode of the moon.”
Left, across the moat, steps enter the castle through a massive gate and a corridor dominated by shooting niches above your head. The corridor doubles back on itself before entering the central courtyard through another gate.
Kids usually get a charge out of “attacking” the castle this way – but keep smaller children close to you.
In the center of the courtyard is another fortified square – a fort within the fortress, so to speak. Within it are the essential elements of barracks life: sleeping halls, a kitchen, a cistern for collecting run-off rainwater, and a hint (fine-cut white stones) of what might have been an upper-floor chapel.
Belvoir endured a long siege following the disaster at the Horns of Hattin; but the knights took advantage of the occasional hiatus to replenish their supplies by attacking and plundering passing Muslim caravans. After 18 months, Saladin’s men had only managed to undermine the large eastern tower. The Hospitallers, on the other hand, were isolated and in despair; further resistance seemed futile. They parlayed with Saladin: surrender in return for safe passage out of the country. He honored the bargain, and with characteristic chivalry allowed them to ride to the coast with flags proudly unfurled in recognition of their heroic defense.
Rte. 717 (road climbs 5 kms), off Route 90, 12 km north of Beit She’an
Open Apr.-Sep. 8am-5pm (Fri. and holiday eve 8-4), Oct.-Mar. 8am-4pm (Fri. and holiday eve 8-3)
Templer tunnels under the Sarona complex in Tel Aviv were used to reconstruct ‘stolen’ planes in pre-state days.
Visitors to the restaurants and shops at the Sarona complex opposite the Kirya Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv are unaware of the secrets of the past that are concealed in the cellars. One of the secrets is the Templer tunnel that was opened before Independence Day, which connected the cellars of two wineries. The story is being told here for the first time by two veterans of the air force and civil aviation in Israel, who participated in the operation to dismantle, smuggle, renovate and reassemble 15 planes that were used by the pre-state Yishuv before and during the War of Independence.
“In 1943-44 I was very active in a flight club. We flew model airplanes, heard lectures and started gliding on Givat Hamoreh. Later we joined the pilots in Ramle – the location of the Royal Air Force headquarters and the planes that were used by the flight school. There were several planes, some of them Polish. That’s where the members of the Palmah, the elite commandos from nearby Kibbutz Na’an, trained. At the end of 1947 they were transferred to Sde Dov because they were afraid of the Arab gangs who controlled the area. They transferred six planes and one was undergoing repairs.
“After the Arabs discovered that they had transferred the planes they managed to burn them in Lod. Those planes were used by the Haganah (the pre-state undeground army) for reconnaissance above places controlled by Arab gangs, and to bring provisions to locations in the Negev. They would even throw 50-kilogram bombs from them because the plane was a two-seater,” Asher Gerson, 86, a graduate of the second Israel Air Force pilots’ course and later the chief pilot of Arkia Israeli Airlines, told Haaretz.
“At a certain point, early in 1948, because we were involved in volunteer work helping the teams of mechanics and loading bombs onto the planes, we were asked to come the next day with a few sandwiches and to tell our families that we would be gone for two or three days. The next day we came and they explained to us that in present-day Tel Nof, then called Aqir after the nearby Arab village, there were 15 Oster planes in the hangar – a three-seat British plane similar to a Piper.
“There are several theories, one that they bribed the commander of the British air base to disappear when we came and stole the planes. We arrived with the Rapid – a two-engine plane that held eight passengers.
“They picked us up from Sde Dov to Tel Nof. The plane made two trips – 15 people. They took us into the hangar that was secured outside by our forces. The place was a secret and they didn’t know that we were inside. We started to dismantle the planes – to remove the tail, wings, and then trucks came to transport them to the north. We worked there, none of the Brits approached. It was important for the Arabs not to find out. We dismantled what we needed and in the evening the trucks arrived. Since we didn’t finish all the work they loaded six planes onto trucks that drove toward Tel Aviv that same evening – to Sarona, to the winery, and dismantled them there,” he continued.
A second group stayed in the hangar and continued until midnight to dismantle and load so that they would set out in the morning with trucks to Tel Aviv again. At the exit from Tel Aviv there was a village, an area of Arab rioters who regularly attacked traffic going from Tel Aviv to the south. They saw that a lot of trucks left and only a few returned and realized that they would come back in the morning. They set up a big barrier at the exit from the village and then in the morning a van with watchmen – Jewish policemen – started out in order to break through the barrier. They encountered an ambush, a barrier through which we had to pass, and were all murdered. For that reason the community at the site was called Mishmar Hashiva (“the watch of the seven”).
“We were supposed to return and the road was closed. They brought us back via Nes Tziona and the coast. The trucks passed and we reached Sarona via [the agricultural school] Mikveh Yisrael. They put all the planes into the cellar that was the winery, and in effect my work was over. They brought experienced teams and mechanics who repaired the planes there at night. Each plane that was repaired was transferred in parts to Sde Dov, and there they were assembled and made usable. Every civilian plane has a registration number. In order to camouflage the 15 planes they all had the same registration number and that’s how they flew fictitiously. Those planes did all the work of the War of Independence until planes arrived from Czechoslovakia. They secured convoys and communities that were cut off. We continued to work at Sde Dov until we were drafted on May 13, 1948,” said Gerson.
Gerson participated in an air force course in Italy. “I was a pilot for a short time. I completed the course and then American Jews sent a gift to the flight club – 10 brand-new Pipers. They had to start a flight school. Because I was known and active they asked the army to release me in order to establish the flight school. Two years later I started working for Arkia. I was the first Arkia pilot and the second commercial pilot in Israel. I retired in 1995.”
His colleague, Yossi Gidoni, 85, who also participated in the secret operation, expands: “In January 1948 about 15-20 Oster planes were brought, with American engines from World War II, which were purchased from a junkyard. The planes were hidden in the cellar of the winery in Sarona. Upstairs there were workshops where we worked. We dismantled them and removed the fabric from the wings and body. The wings were made of wood. We repaired the planks, did carpentry work and stretched new fabric. They dismantled the engines and sent parts to workshops in Tel Aviv. We also had a department of instruments, engines and paint, which was run by two girls.
“They let us learn how to do the work. I was 18, a high-school student who left in my senior year, and I was drafted in March 1948. They let me travel home for the matriculation exams. The place itself was four times the size of today, and was reduced in order to build the highways below, the Begin Petah Tikva Highway, and that’s where all the wagons to unload were – where you see cafes today – they took up three halls. One cellar and Templer tunnels that connected the old winery to the distillery remained.”
Gidoni didn’t participate in transferring the plane parts, but he did help to build and renovate them. Eventually, when the Air Service became the Israel Air Force, “I was in a unit with nine soldiers that was transferred to Tel Yosef. We were the first mechanics who flew the planes from Czechoslovakia that arrived with the first light. In 1948 I attended the fourth pilots’ course. I was in the first course taught in Israel. I stopped and returned three years later.”
After serving in various capacities, Gidoni decided that he had had enough. He flew Dakotas until the age of 48 and then transferred to the Hawkeye as a reservist. After his discharge from the army he studied at the Technion-Israel Technological Institute and worked for Israel Aircraft Industries.
The pieces of the religious puzzle that make up the USA Network’s biblical conspiracy action series “Dig” are beginning to fall into place, and the picture they are revealing is one of history — highlighted by a colorful streak of fiction.
Here be spoilers! Read on only if you are up-to-date with the 10-part series, or want to ruin it for yourself and others.
“Order of Moriah”
This secret religious order, supposedly dating from the Crusades, seems to be a product of the “Dig” writers’ imaginations. But, like many of the show’s fictional aspects, it is based on historical fact.
The Crusades, which mainly took place from 1095 to 1291, were an attempt by the Rome-based Catholic Church to retake the Holy Land — Jerusalem and its environs — away from its Muslim rulers.
During that time, the church founded several monastic religious orders whose members traveled to Jerusalem. Some fought with the armies; some cared for the wounded and sick. The most famous of these orders were the Knights Hospitallers, the Knights Teutonic and the Knights Templar.
It is perhaps the Templars that the Order of Moriah is based on. Officially named “The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon,” the Knights Templar were anything but poor. They owned land from Rome to Jerusalem and were involved in finance throughout the Christian world. They loaned money to King Philip IV of France and the church.
That’s where they got into trouble. When the king didn’t want to pay them back, he pressuredPope Clement V to disband the knights. The resistant knights were charged with heresy and many members were arrested, tortured and burned at the stake. Legend holds that some members went into hiding — and took a lot of loot with them.
Writers have been making fictional hay with the Knights Templar and other so-called “secret” religious orders since Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” in 1820. The most famous example is Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” in which a Templar-like order called the “Priory of Sion” keeps a really, really big secret about the nature of the “Holy Grail.”
Enter “Dig,” whose evil archaeologist, Ian Margove (Richard E. Grant), is after the “treasure” the Order of Moriah is supposed to have buried somewhere in Jerusalem.
Archaeologist Margrove says that “according to Flavius Josephus,” the breastplate will pinpoint the location of the treasure.
Flavius Josephus was a first-century Jewish historian. Contemporary Jews are most familiar with him for his firsthand account of the revolt of the Maccabees, a Jewish sect that rose against Roman rule, while Christians know him for his description of Jesus’ early followers.
But Josephus’ own biography is as fascinating as his historical works. He was born to well-to-do and noble Jews in 37 C.E. in Jerusalem. At 16, he went to live with a desert hermit — perhaps an Essene — but returned to Jerusalem at age 19 and joined the Pharisees, a Jewish priestly sect. During the First Jewish-Roman War, he was in charge of a section of Jerusalem’s forces.
At one point, Josephus and 40 of his followers were trapped in a cave. Rather than surrender, Josephus persuaded them to commit group suicide, with each man drawing lots and killing a companion, so no one would have to kill himself. For whatever reason — an act of luck or the hand of God — by the time the lots got around to Josephus, he and another soldier were the last ones standing. And they surrendered to the Romans. Josephus went on to become a friend of the Emperor Vespasian and the recipient of a Roman pension.
For this reason, many have considered him a traitor — he’s been called the “Jewish Benedict Arnold” by some scholars. But in the past few decades, some scholars are rehabilitating his image, claiming he joined the Romans out of a sense of deference or even unwillingly.
Whatever the truth, the characters of “Dig” are right to turn to Josephus for information about early Jewish rituals and practices. His book “Antiquities of the Jews” describes first-century Jewish religious garments and ritual items, including a priest’s breastplate that is critical to the “Dig” plotline.
But using such a breastplate as a treasure map is fictional — not historical — at all.
YS/MG END WINSTON
La Celebración del Nacimiento de Juan el Bautista a Capítulo Cerrado de la Encomienda Emirto De Lima & Sintiago con sede en el Valle de Barranquilla es precedida por el Gran Prior General de la República de Colombia Francesco Cavalli durante el Solsticio de Verano bajo los Augustos Misterios en la dualidad del Jano: el Joven y el Viejo, el uno Lampiño y el otro Barbado, el que mira al futuro y el otro al pasado; Jano – Janvier, da inicio al año tras el renacimiento del Sol en el Solsticio de Invierno; Joan, atraviesa los tiempos y los mitos de orígenes diversos de la dualidad de los dos Caballeros Templarios sobre el mismo corcel; Jano bifronte, como dos veces Juan, el Bautista y el Evangelista, el Solsticio de Verano y el Solsticio de Invierno, Santos casi gemelos; Jano del Pasado y Jano del Porvenir; Juan el Precursor y Juan el que debe regresar con la venida del Cristo.
El simbolismo de la muerte del Cristo en el Gólgota – Monte de la Caravela de Adam. “El cráneo evoca en las tradiciones iniciáticas la caverna que ilumina el ojo del mundo. El túmulo yermo, el Calvario, el Gólgota es ‘Cráneo’ y llevará la señal de la redención”
Juan el Bautista, el precursor y anunciador del Cristo, simbolizado de alguna manera en el Abraxas – Secretum Templi, sello usado por la Orden; Referenciado en la simbología Crística como el Cordero – Agnus Dei, manifestándose explícitamente como “Yo soy el garante del Cordero” e integrándose fundamentalmente a la vieja tradición del Culto de las Cabezas Cortadas, Juan y Jesús – el Cristo – símiles en el Tiempo – “Yo soy aquel que es igual que yo” – Solsticio del Agua y del Fuego.
Jano o Juan el Bautista en el plano Simbólico, son de relevante consideración para el Inner Temple que como en Ilo tempore en la Noche de los Tiempos hasta nuestros días se mantiene representado…
Manuel Ricaurte F.
PGRC – OSMTHU
O Instituto Gualdim Pais, em colaboração com o IHS-HI e com a Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolimitani Universalis (OSMTHU) vai promover mais uma edição do Curso de Instrução do Templo e da Cavalaria Espiritual, a ter lugar no dia 12 de Julho de 2015 em Sintra.
Excepcionalmente o Curso terá a duração de 8h (uma manhã e uma tarde), estando abertas as inscrições para cada uma das datas.
O Curso é composto pela Instrução Preliminar que é dada a todos os que ingressam na Ordem do Templo (OSMTHU), a qual aborda múltiplos temas relacionados com a histórica Ordem do Templo, bem como com a Cavalaria Espiritual como Via Iniciática, explorando a sua expressão Cristã reconhecida nos Templários, assim como na Ordem de Cristo, entre outras, bem como a sua história e sobrevivências até aos dias de hoje em múltiplos ramos.
O Curso faz ainda uma introdução ao que é a Instrução de Cavalaria, explanando os seus valores teológicos e iniciáticos, recorrendo a textos canónicos e documentos das diversas épocas.
Está sujeito a inscrição e todos os que o completarem são reconhecidos pela Ordem como aptos a propor-se para instrução mais adiantada e filiação na Festa de São Miguel, em Setembro de 2015.
Desde 2009 que não é possível filiar-se a este ramo da Ordem sem completar o Curso de Instrução preliminar, o qual é dado em ambiente restrito.
Após o Curso, a Ordem irá fechar de novo as suas portas até oportunidade futura que se venha a justificar.
Sobre o Ramo OSMTHU da Ordem do Templo
A Ordem Soberana e Militar do Templo de Jerusalém Universal é descendente da Ordem retomada por Fabré Palaprat em 1804, o qual trabalhou sob as Ordens de Napoleão, com o Chanceler da Ordem (e do Império), Cambaceres. Parlaprat foi igualmente Patriarca da Igreja Joanita, após ter sido ordenado Bispo na sucessão apostólica pelo Bispo Machaud. Ao longo do século XIX e século XX a Ordem teve uma história conturbada, essencialmente centrada em França e na Suiça. Após a morte de Parlaprat em 1838 a Ordem é dirigida por um Conselho de Regência. Em 1934 é eleito Regente Emile Vandenberg. Nessa época a Europa viva tempos difíceis e com o início da Segunda Guerra, os arquivos da Ordem foram colocados sob a guarda de um diplomata destacado na Bélgica. Quando a guerra acabou o Regente Vandenberg viu-se envolvido num acidente fatal e a continuidade da regência da Ordem foi assumida sem eleição pelo diplomata que havia guardado os arquivos anos antes. Os diversos Priorados tiveram reacções distintas a esta atitude não protocolar e, desde essa época vários se declararam autónomos da nova regência auto-proclamada. De 1945 em diante nasceu um ramo da OSMTH que não reconheceu durante décadas nenhuma autoridade a não ser as autoridades nacionais devidamente eleitas e cuja proveniência de Cavalaria pudesse ser verificada. Já na década de 80 constituiu-se uma Federação Internacional com o objectivo de preparar a eleição livre e universal de um Grão Mestre internacional. Este facto deu-se em 1999, tendo o espanhol Fernando de Toro-Garland sido eleito em sufrágio verificado por auditores externos à Ordem e proclamado em Santiago de Compostela. Pelo seu carácter internacional, o Conselho Magistral, órgão executivo internacional, decidiu acrescentar “Universalis” à designação da Ordem de modo a distinguir melhor dos outros ramos. Seguiu-se o Grão Mestre Antonio Paris, de Itália, para o período 2004-2009, que entretanto se retirou por motivos de saúde. Desde essa data o Conselho Magistral, liderado por Portugal, tem feito a gestão operacional e de instrução da Ordem sempre dentro de portas, de modo discreto e recatado que os tempos recomendam.
A OSMTHU não reclama ser descendente directa dos Templários históricos. Contudo reclama ter uma transmissão de Cavalaria Espiritual autêntica, aliada a uma expressão reservada da Ordenação Apostólica sob a autoridade espiritual de um Patriarca. Estes factos, em conjunto, bem como a sua história e tradição, colocam-na como uma real Ordem de Cavalaria Iniciática que se inspira nos valores e na história singular da Ordem do Templo para instruir e guiar os seus membros nos dias de hoje.
A Ordem procura não ter uma acção visível que possa ser confundida com expressões apócrifas dos Templários históricos, tão correntes nos dias de hoje. Tão pouco procura protagonizar uma restauração da Ordem original ou reclamar da Igreja de Roma qualquer tipo de perdão ou restauração anacrónica. Deste modo refugia a sua acção num pomo interior e só episodicamente aparece em público. Mudando-se os tempos poderão mudar-se os métodos.
Mais informações em Templar Globe: templars.wordpress.com
O Curso terá lugar no dia 12 de Julho. Inicia-se pelas 10h e termina pelas 19h, com uma pausa de 1h30 para almoço livre. Será ministrado nas instalações do Instituto IHS em Sintra e, além da matéria própria do tema, terá uma sessão de perguntas e respostas e esclarecimento de dúvidas.
As inscrições são RIGOROSAMENTE LIMITADAS.
25 € para inscrições individuais
40 € para casais
Os membros da Ordem, sócios do Instituto Hermético, alunos do Curso “Templários e Templarismos” da Universidade Lusófona, bem como todos os que já fizeram o Curso em datas anteriores e desejam repeti-lo, terão uma redução no preço. Assim, o custo nestes casos será de 10 € para inscrições individuais e 15 € para casais.
Tendo em conta a situação económica actual, o Instituto e a OSMTHU decidiram disponibilizar uma inscrição a preço especial para Estudantes, desempregados e maiores de 65 anos. Se é o seu caso, refira esse facto no seu contacto.
As inscrições podem ser feitas para o email firstname.lastname@example.org, dando o nome, um email de contacto e a categoria de sócio ou não-sócio, inscrição individual ou casal. As inscrições serão tratadas por ordem de chegada.
Não esquecer: email@example.com
By JIM YARDLEY
LECCE, Italy — All Luciano Faggiano wanted when he purchased the seemingly unremarkable building at 56 Via Ascanio Grandi was to open a trattoria. The only problem was the toilet.
Sewage kept backing up. So Mr. Faggiano enlisted his two older sons to help him dig a trench and investigate. He predicted the job would take about a week.
“We found underground corridors and other rooms, so we kept digging,” said Mr. Faggiano, 60.
His search for a sewage pipe, which began in 2000, became one family’s tale of obsession and discovery. He found a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. His trattoria instead became a museum, where relics still turn up today.
Italy is a slag heap of history, with empires and ancient civilizations built atop one another like layers in a cake. Farmers still unearth Etruscan pottery while plowing their fields. Excavation sites are common in ancient cities such as Rome, where protected underground relics have for years impeded plans to expand the subway system.
Situated in the heel of the Italian boot, Lecce was once a critical crossroads in the Mediterranean, coveted by invaders from Greeks to Romans to Ottomans to Normans to Lombards. For centuries, a marble column bearing a statue of Lecce’s patron saint, Orontius, dominated the city’s central piazza — until historians, in 1901, discovered a Roman amphitheater below, leading to the relocation of the column so that the amphitheater could be excavated.
“The very first layers of Lecce date to the time of Homer, or at least according to legend,” said Mario De Marco, a local historian and author, noting that invaders were enticed by the city’s strategic location and the prospects for looting. “Each one of these populations came and left a trace.”
Severo Martini, a member of the City Council, said archaeological relics turn up on a regular basis — and can present a headache for urban planning. A project to build a shopping mall had to be redesigned after the discovery of an ancient Roman temple beneath the site of a planned parking lot.
“Whenever you dig a hole,” Mr. Martini said, “centuries of history come out.”
Ask the Faggiano family. Mr. Faggiano planned to run the trattoria on the ground floor and live upstairs with his wife and youngest son. Before they started digging, Mr. Faggiano’s oldest son, Marco, was studying film in Rome. His second son, Andrea, had left home to attend college. The building was seemingly modernized, with clean white walls and a new heating system.
“I said, ‘Come, I need your help, and it will only be a week,’ ” Mr. Faggiano recalled.
But one week quickly passed, as father and sons discovered a false floor that led down to another floor of medieval stone, which led to a tomb of the Messapians, who lived in the region centuries before the birth of Jesus. Soon, the family discovered a chamber used to store grain by the ancient Romans, and the basement of a Franciscan convent where nuns had once prepared the bodies of the dead.
If this history only later became clear, what was immediately obvious was that finding the pipe would be a much bigger project than Mr. Faggiano had anticipated. He did not initially tell his wife about the extent of the work, possibly because he was tying a rope around the chest of his youngest son, Davide, then 12, and lowering him to dig in small, darkened openings.
“I made sure to tell him not to tell his mama,” he said.
His wife, Anna Maria Sanò, soon became suspicious. “We had all these dirty clothes, every day,” she said. “I didn’t understand what was going on.”
After watching the Faggiano men haul away debris in the back seat of the family car, neighbors also became suspicious and notified the authorities. Investigators arrived and shut down the excavations, warning Mr. Faggiano against operating an unapproved archaeological work site. Mr. Faggiano responded that he was just looking for a sewage pipe.
A year passed. Finally, Mr. Faggiano was allowed to resume his pursuit of the sewage pipe on condition that heritage officials observed the work. An underground treasure house emerged, as the family uncovered ancient vases, Roman devotional bottles, an ancient ring with Christian symbols, medieval artifacts, hidden frescoes and more.
“The Faggiano house has layers that are representative of almost all of the city’s history, from the Messapians to the Romans, from the medieval to the Byzantine time,” said Giovanni Giangreco, a cultural heritage official, now retired, involved in overseeing the excavation.
City officials, sensing a major find, brought in an archaeologist, even as the Faggianos were left to do the excavation work and bear the costs. Mr. Faggiano also engaged in extensive research into the eras tiered below him. The two older sons, Marco and Andrea, found their lives interrupted by their father’s quest.
“We were kind of forced to do it,” said Andrea, now 34, laughing. “I was going to university, but then I would go home to excavate. Marco as well.”
Mr. Faggiano still dreamed of a trattoria, even if the project had become his white whale. He supported his family with rent from an upstairs floor in the building and income on other properties.
“I was still digging to find my pipe,” he said. “Every day we would find new artifacts.”
Years passed. His sons managed to escape, with Andrea moving to London. City archaeologists pushed Mr. Faggiano to keep going. His own architect advised that digging deeper would help clear out sludge below the planned bathroom, should he still hope to open his trattoria. He admits he also became obsessed.
“At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore,” he recalled. “I bought cinder blocks and was going to cover it up and pretend it had never happened.
“I don’t wish it on anyone.”
Today, the building is Museum Faggiano, an independent archaeological museum authorized by the Lecce government. Spiral metal stairwells allow visitors to descend through the underground chambers, while sections of glass flooring underscore the building’s historical layers.
His docent, Rosa Anna Romano, is the widow of an amateur speleologist who helped discover the Grotto of Cervi, a cave on the coastline near Lecce that is decorated in Neolithic pictographs. While taking an outdoor bathroom break, the husband had noticed holes in the ground that led to the underground grotto.
“We were brought together by sewage systems,” Mr. Faggiano joked.
Mr. Faggiano is now satisfied with his museum, but he has not forgotten about the trattoria. A few years into his excavation, he finally found his sewage pipe. It was, indeed, broken. He has since bought another building and is again planning for a trattoria, assuming it does not need any renovations. He has no plans to lift a shovel.
“I still want it,” he said of the trattoria. “I’m very stubborn.”
in New York Times