I love Italy the way so many people in the blogging world love Paris; but it is a slightly withered affection.
It is the type of fondness you feel for someone you used to fancy but you knew would only end up in heartbreak and endless attempts of breaking up trying to free yourself from the dysfunctional co-dependency before you finally regain your senses.
I toyed with the idea of moving there 10 years ago and spent a good chunk of a summer there to gain a feel of how things work if you wanted to do more than order pasta and get a suntan. I didn't get much more done than that and luckily I have never really considered it again.
Does this nearly 1000 year old fresco look familiar to you?
Well it should for Grand Design fanatics because this was the fresco that was the inspiration for one of my favourite heartwarming episodes ever. ( The link is in Russian but serious fans will know which one I mean!)
Italy is as some will refer to as France in a good mood.
I always refer to it as the useless friend who always screws things up and turns up late but they always get away with murder because they are so damn good looking and charming.
My excuse is that my command of the Italian language is very poor so misunderstandings are inevitable but there is a reason why despite the beautiful and blessed topography, gastronomy, and culture the emigration rates are one of the highest in the world.
Why is it that an unfinished wall in the bedroom I stayed in Gallipoli, Puglia is so charming and yet in my downstairs loo I lose the will to live?
How is this makeshift simple kitchen so much more desirable than any bespoke concoction that a Somerset carpenter comes up with?
Why are these religious iconography by the stove so charming and yet I am suspicious of superstitious brainwashing of any symbolism in London?
Why do I want to be a part time fisherwoman and contemplate a whole new existence in Italy?
Is it because the bait used in catching the fish is on par with the daily special at Nobu?
I always wonder how people ever get anything done with such beauty that surrounds them all - the - time?!
I could never get anything done.
I find my lapsed religion so fascinating in Italy but it might be all the Dolce Gabbana accroutrements.
And then I see the holy ghost.
Not that I am a mystic but this...
But religion is very much alive in Puglia more than the northern parts of Italy.
The local priest was like a rock star and the locals all stopped him to grab a few words.
But the truth is that there is a lot that Italy is about that people don't think that might even associate with Italy but then again these types of buildings don't get instagrammed.
Truth is Puglia, a province of southern Italy has become rather poor or rather stayed that way.
Not everyone lives in deserted former palazzos.
Many places look like the sets on Game of thrones where princesses sulk and saunter about aimlessly waiting to get married.
I feel that no one can possibly have everything and indeed that applies to countries too.
Italy is very much the descendant of wealthy forebears that are living on the remains of a former grand estate who is looking to sell their family silver next.
But then you forget about the Italian banking woes and the fact that the ATM's are only being refilled once every other day when you see still lifes like this.
This was a side street in Lecce right infant of a upholsterer.
As I said when I put this on my Instagram feed -
things like this seem to happen naturally whereas the rest of us mortals and professionals who work at magazines like World of Interiors seem to have meetings about it.
This was just a place for guests to sit while having a pizza.
Well this is one of the signs left by the Crusaders on their way up or down to the Holy Land.
Lecce was one of their pitstops.
If I were an artist like this painter,
I could imagine setting up shop but if my aunt were a man she would be my uncle if you get my drift.
But you can't help but feel artistic and in touch with one's right brain when even windows entrance your senses.
No surprise to regular readers that this antique shop blew my mind in so many ways.
The owner was lovely and working on a piece he was preparing. It seems that a lot of northern Italian dealers come to this town to search for treasures unappreciated.
Lecce has a particular limestone that is very carvable and the city uses the material to its best characteristic.
Yes I know Florence and Rome are beautiful and they deserve every accolade but Lecce is a neglected beauty.