Man Fixing Toilet in Italy Unearths Historical Relics and Opens Museum

A man dealing with sewage problems in a building in Lecce, Italy that he purchased in the hopes of opening a restaurant, unearthed a subterranean world full of archeological relics dating to the era before Jesus was born, the New York Times reports.

When Luciano Faggiano dug a trench to investigate what was wrong with a toilet in the building, he found a string of corridors thousands of years old (see Artist’s Buried Treasure Attracts Gold Mad Hordes and Vegas Entreprenuer Gambles on Folk Art Treasure Hunt).

He then enlisted his two sons in the excavation mission, and together they found a treasure trove of relics, including a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel, and etchings from the Knights Templar.

The spate of discoveries began in the year 2001, and the would-be trattoria eventually became the Museo Faggiano, a government-approved, independent museum.

But it’s been a long road for Faggiano, who upon discovering the first layer of relics, chose not to tell the authorities so he could keep looking for the malfunctioning pipe.

Neighbors became suspicious after seeing the Faggianos disposing of debris and warned officials. After a year of negotiations, Faggiano was allowed to resume the excavation in search of the pipe, on condition that heritage officials surveyed the work.

Lecce was once a key Mediterranean enclave in Italy, a terrain coveted by Greeks, Roman, Ottomans, Normands, and Lombards. Its unique historic relevance makes the discovery of interred antiquities quite a normal occurrence.

So while the world might be amazed at Faggiano’s subterranean trove, locals seem rather nonplussed about it. “Whenever you dig a hole, centuries of history come out,” Severo Martini, member of Lecce’s City Council, told the New York Times (see MFA Boston Unlocks the Country’s Oldest Time Capsule and Two Rare Statues Discovered in Greek Tomb).

Faggiano has since bought another building, and is hoping to launch his much-longed for trattoria soon.

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