All Luciano Faggiano wanted was a working toilet in the building he dreamed of turning into a trattoria in Lecce, Italy. Faggiano and his three sons spent seven years hunting for an elusive broken sewage pipe. In the process, they came across over 2,000 years worth of archaeological finds, unearthing layer upon layer of their country’s history.
They first dug into a false floor, which led to the discovery of medieval stones, which then led them to uncover a tomb from the Messapians, an ancient Greek tribe that lived in the area centuries before Christianity arose. The Faggiano family also found an abundance of other artifacts, such as remnants of a Franciscan chapel, etchings from the Knights Templar, an old Jesuit ring adorned with Christian symbols, and a Roman granary.
The family’s excavations aroused suspicions among neighbors, who reported the unauthorized dig to the authorities. Faggiano was eventually allowed to resume his mission to fix his plumbing as long as an approved archaeologist oversaw his efforts. Even though anything he found became property of the state, he had to pay for the excavations himself.
In addition to the more than 5,000 artifacts he unearthed, Faggiano also eventually found the faulty pipe that started it all and managed to fix his plumbing.
The findings are now displayed in Museo Faggiano, an independent museum that opened to the public in 2008. Museo Faggiano is the city of Lecce’s only independent museum. Visitors can tour the building and wind their way through the maze of underground chambers via spiral staircases and glass floors that reveal the many layers of underlying history.