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THE WEEK 15/4/2015


Luciano Faggiano was dead set on opening his own trattoria in Lecce, Italy. He had already purchased the building, which seemed modern, and even had a new heating system. But the building’s constantly clogged toilet led to some remarkable ancient discoveries:

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. [The New York Times]

Italy is a country that’s particularly rich in ancient history, so discovering ruins during construction isn’t actually that rare — the Times points out that subway construction is often impeded by such discoveries, and Lecce’s town statue had to be relocated after a Roman ampitheater was discovered below it. But Faggiano’s discovery is especially unique because it has “layers that are representative of almost all of the city’s history.”

Faggiano kept digging through centuries of artifacts not because he loved archaeology, but because he still hoped to find the sewage pipe. (He eventually did, and it was, in fact, broken.)

Eventually, the site was deemed so historical that it became the Museum Faggiano, and visitors can explore its underground chambers. Faggiano, for his part, has purchased another building, where he hopes to finally open his restaurant.

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