Wonderful places to preserve the historical memory of the city
The Castromediano Museum with its invaluable archaeological and historical-artistic heritage, the Convitto Palmieri, the first Franciscan convent in the city with The Factory of Words, the Carmelo Bene Fund and the Bernardini Library, make up the Biblio-Museum Hub of the city of Lecce.
The Sigismondo Castromediano Museum
Founded in 1868 by Duke Sigismondo Castromediano, patriot and local history enthusiast, it is the oldest public museum in Apulia; preserves archaeological finds and works of art from Salento and the wider Apulia region, with particular regard to the civilization of the Messapians which developed in the Terra d'Otranto area between the 9th and 2nd century BC, in a great narration of the cultural landscapes that have emerged in this land between the Paleolithic era and modern times, in the broadest panorama of exchanges and contacts between Mediterranean civilizations. There are also other historical-artistic testimonies linked to the territory by donations, purchases, acquisitions, disposals and demolitions of churches, which constitute the main nucleus of the Pinacoteca, in a story that unfolds between the Middle Ages, the Baroque, the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Castromediano Museum: mission and vision
The Castromediano Museum is a public, permanent and non-profit institution with the aim of protecting, conserving, enhancing and promoting the cultural heritage present in the provincial territory. The Museum carries out research on the testimonies of man and his environment, acquires them, preserves them, communicates them and exhibits them for purposes of study, education and pleasure, both to preserve their memory and to stimulate curiosity towards the past, and to promote knowledge of critical tools useful for a better understanding of the present.
Since 1980, the museum has been located in the former 'Collegio Argento,' built by the Jesuits in the second half of the 19th century. The building was purchased by the Province of Lecce in 1967 to house the museum, which had previously been located in the former Celestine Monastery. The interior of the building underwent a complete renovation between 1970 and 1979, with a project by architect Franco Minissi. The building has recently undergone major redevelopment and has been set up as a virtual tour of Salento's archaeology, history, and art.
October - April: from Tuesday to Sunday, 8.30 am – 8 pm
May - September: from Tuesday to Sunday, 8.30 am – 8 pm
Viale Gallipoli 28, Lecce
Is it possible to visit the Castromediano Museum accompanied by specialized guides, archaeologists, and art historians. The guided tour service is free and takes place every Friday at 6 pm (duration: 1.5 hours) by reservation only, by calling the number +39 0832 373572 or through the Io Prenoto app. Guided tours can also be arranged on other days and times, for individual visitors or groups, by contacting the museum by phone.
Convitto Palmieri: The Factory of Words
The building of the former Convitto Palmieri, today one of the headquarters of the Biblio-Museum Hub of Lecce, is the result of multiple renovations that involved some buildings founded and managed for centuries by the Franciscan Order. In addition to the church of S. Francesco della Scarpa, the architectural complex houses The Factory of Words, the Carmelo Bene Fund and the Bernardini Library.
The Factory of Words
It is a museum and educational space that attempts to tell the story and evolution of writing, from the first necessity of communication through signs and engravings, to the printing process, until the new forms of digital writing and the online libraries. The exhibition features various printing machines and tools from the Martano collection.
Carmelo Bene Fund
The Carmelo Bene Fund brings together and protects the material heritage of Carmelo Bene, one of the main protagonists of the 20th century. He was not only an actor, playwright, and filmmaker but also a writer and intellectual who was able to renew the use of words, voice, and images in all arts through his independent vision. The Fund consists of three main components: his personal library, documentary archive, and costumes, stage elements, furnishings, and personal objects.
The Provincial Library of Lecce owes its origins to Sigismondo Castromediano, who initiated the collection of significant book collections from the dissolved convents of the Teatini Fathers of Lecce, the Liguorini of Francavilla Fontana, and the Riformati of Gallipoli. The modern library was established around this ancient nucleus, and with the contributions of Nicola Bernardini, a journalist and historian for whom the library was named, and Teodoro Pellegrino, one of the founders of the University of Studies, it has become specialized in Salento studies.
The Convitto Palmieri opens from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm.