Thursday, September 20, 2007
Return the 2000-year-old marble column and no one will get hurt!
Something has been in the local news lately and I love it because it sparked a good debate after lunch in the office. I was really getting into it. I’ve mentioned in the past how Brindisi historically is known as the town at the end of Via Appia, which is the greatest road in the Roman Empire (history according to me!). I have also told you that the end of the Via Appia was marked in Brindisi with two marble Roman columns, which are the symbol of the town. I also have mentioned that Lecce, for some odd reason, has one of the columns in Piazza Oronzo in Lecce with their patron Saint Oronzo on top of it.
(cue the music)
The rest of the story....
In Brindisi the popular story is that Lecce is a bunch of thieves and they stool the column back around 1660. Lecce believes that the column was a gift, which sounds like something a bunch of lying, cheating thieves would say. I’m not trying to influence you or something. Recently the mayor of Brindisi started asking the mayor of Lecce to please give us back our column and we’ll stop calling them lying, cheating, ugly, good-for-nothing thieves. I, for one, would love to see both columns back in Brindisi overlooking the sea like they are supposed to be. Why now? Well just recently Brindisi finished a restoration of the capital of the column we have. The capital is sooo precious that Brindisi is putting it in the “Salone di Colonna” (basically indoors to keep in preserved) instead of back on top of the column we have. They on the other hand are letting our column fall apart. Our column in Lecce has metal bands on it to hold it together under the weight of their fricken saint!
I should be fair. The big question should be, why would Brindisi give such a beloved piece of the town to Lecce? Well this is good story. It seems in 1528 one column fell over. No one is quite sure why but the common belief is that an earthquake caused it. I think someone from Lecce knocked it down, have you seen how they drive? Anyway, history is sketchy back then because Brindisi was hit with The Plague in 1526. Naturally putting the column back up was not a priority as people were dying in the streets. The column sat in pieces and not much is known until in 1660 when the column was erected in Lecce with a bronze of Saint Oronzo on it, like it is today. The theory is that sometime between 1528 and 1659 Brindisi gave the column to Lecce because Saint Oronzo liberated Brindisi from The Plague. That sounds like a reasonable reason to give the column away but Brindisi claims (and always has) that San Rocco liberated Brindisi from The Plague so there wouldn’t be any gifting of nothin’ between Brindisi and Lecce. There is even a record from November 2, 1659 in Naples of the mayor of Brindisi asking for the column to be returned but it was denied. So even before it was put up, Brindisi was asking for it back and now 348 years later and we are still asking. Sorry I went back to being a little one sided there again.
There is a response from the mayor of Lecce and I’ll just say it’s long and boring and definitely written by someone in politics. He even mentions at one point “Where would Lecce put its statue of Saint Oronzo?” Boy, do I have a response to that!!!!!
This jaded history is taken from the site below which is a Brindisi site so even my original story is from the Brindisi perspective….but you can’t trust those Leccese anyway… http://www.provincia.brindisi.it/provbr/storiatradizioni.nsf/3e86072a2032ae07c1256cf40039e714/51a1062d34b7b7a2c1256cf5003db251?OpenDocument