Pietra Leccese or Lecce Stone
Lecce stone, in local language Pietra Leccese or Leccisu in salentino dialect, once defined as the marble of the poor, is one of the most precious natural materials in Puglia. The city of Lecce rises right in an area of an outcropping of this rock, which is present only in these places in the Salento peninsula.
This limestone, very resistant to the wear and tear of time, is unique in our country, rare in the world. Straw yellow, it is largely composed of calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, clay and sand.
this rock was probably formed in the Miocene period from dried and compressed marine mud, explained by the presence of many fossils of marine fauna inside it. The stone is extracted in opencast quarries scattered in the territories of the municipalities of Lecce, Corigliano, Melpignano, Cursi and Maglie, at a depth ranging from about 1 to 40 metres; hardness and density vary according to the depth of the sediments. The superficial limestone benches, softer, are used for the extraction of stone to be used to make sculptures and decorations; from the deep benches, made of harder stone, the material to be used in the building industry is extracted for walking surfaces or the refractory stone used for fireplaces.
The craftsmanship of Lecce stone has always had an artistic and historical significance. Since the Middle Ages, the beauty and ductility of this stone has attracted the attention of local architects and sculptors. Evident are the beautiful examples of stone architecture in the numerous varieties of building elements, the decorations present in many monuments and religious buildings in Salento.
In recent years, there has been a return of interest in working this material, both for architecture and handicraft objects.
The work is still done almost entirely by hand with methods handed down from generations with the use of old tools such as chisel, saw, planer and rasp, leaving to the skill of the expert craftsman and his creativity, the elaboration of unique objects, from ashtrays to tables, clocks and lamps, up to sculptures, true works of art.