Man Fixes His Broken Toilet, Ends Up Discovering An Ancient Tomb Built 2,000 Years Ago

Lucian Faggiano, 60 and his family had great plans to open a restaurant. He had his heart set on a trattoria, which he, together with his sons, would run. They bought a building in Lecce, Puglia, in the south of Italy and set to work renovating it. Unfortunately all the work was put on hold because of a blocked toilet. That’s when the fun started…

In the attempt to fix the toilet, they had to dig down to find the pipe. Not only did Lucian come across a Messapian tomb built some 2,000 years ago, but he also discovered a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and etchings which are thought to have been made by the Knights Templar.

Lecce, which is located at the heel of what is called Italy’s ‘boot’, was once an important trading post for the Romans, because it was a crossroads in the Mediterranean. However, signs of cities date right back to the time of Homer, according to local historian Mario de Marco.

“The very first layers of Lecce date to the time of Homer, or at least according to legend,” said Marco . “Each one of these populations came and left a trace.”

Lucian Faggiano bought the seemingly standard building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy, (marked on this map) but his dream of turning it into a trattoria was put on hold thanks to a broken toilet. Lecce, at the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ was once a crossroads in the Mediterranean and a trading post for the Romans
Lucian Faggiano bought the seemingly standard building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy, (marked on this map) but his dream of turning it into a trattoria was put on hold thanks to a broken toilet. Lecce, at the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ was once a crossroads in the Mediterranean and a trading post for the Romans

Marco also says that it is not unusual for relics to turn up in fields, or even in the middle of the city. Recently a Roman amphitheatre was found underneath a marble column in the main square. Another interesting find was the Roman temple which was discovered under a car park.

A member of the city council, Severo Martini, says that whenever you dig a hole, you uncover centuries of history. Legend has it that the city of Lecce was founded by the Messapii, who are said to have been Cretans in Greek records, but then the settlement was called Sybar.

Lucian Faggiano's dream of opening a restaurant was scuppered when a dig to find a blocked sewage point yielded some 2,000 years of hidden history, including vast rooms and pottery (shown in this image that features Mr Faggiano left and his son)
Lucian Faggiano’s dream of opening a restaurant was scuppered when a dig to find a blocked sewage point yielded some 2,000 years of hidden history, including vast rooms and pottery (shown in this image that features Mr Faggiano left and his son)
Eight years after it was meant to open as a restaurant, the building has been turned into Museum Faggiano (pictured) and a number of staircases allow visitors to travel down through time to visit the ancient underground chambers discovered by the family
Eight years after it was meant to open as a restaurant, the building has been turned into Museum Faggiano (pictured) and a number of staircases allow visitors to travel down through time to visit the ancient underground chambers discovered by the family
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He imagined it would take a week to dig down and fix the plumbing beneath the building, but instead, the DIY mission led to the discovery of a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary (pictured left), a Franciscan chapel – and even etchings from the Knights Templar. An ancient room beneath the modern building is shown right

When Lucian and his sons examined the excavation further, they discovered that the Roman room had been used to store grain. They thought that in the Franciscan chapel the nuns had prepared the dead. They also found many old pots and a ring.

All sorts of interesting nooks and crannies were uncovered, with shafts leading deeper to much older parts. No one could have ever predicted what lay beneath the ordinary building!

The search for the pipe (shown in this image of Mr Faggiano and his son) began at the turn of the millennium when no-one could have predicted the treasures hidden beneath the floorboards, which revealed a subterranean world dating back to before the birth of Jesus
The search for the pipe (shown in this image of Mr Faggiano and his son) began at the turn of the millennium when no-one could have predicted the treasures hidden beneath the floorboards, which revealed a subterranean world dating back to before the birth of Jesus
Years of excavations have seen the emergence of Roman devotional bottles, ancient vases and a ring with Christian symbols as well as hidden frescoes and medieval pieces. Here, Mr Faggiano carries a piece of Roman pottery from an underground room
Years of excavations have seen the emergence of Roman devotional bottles, ancient vases and a ring with Christian symbols as well as hidden frescoes and medieval pieces. Here, Mr Faggiano carries a piece of Roman pottery from an underground room
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The search for the pipe (shown in this image of Mr Faggiano and his son) began at the turn of the millennium when no-one could have predicted the treasures hidden beneath the floorboards, which revealed a subterranean world dating back to before the birth of Jesus

Not wanting to delay the opening of the restaurant, Lucian was hesitant to tell his wife about the find, although this may also have been down to the fact that he was lowering his youngest boy Davide, then 12, through the gaps in the floor!

“I made sure to tell him not to tell his mama,” he said.

His wife – as most wives will – suspected something by all the laundry which she was required to wash, and the secret was out. “We had all these dirty clothes, every day,” she said. “I didn’t understand what was going on.”

After watching the Faggiano men haul away debris in the back seat of the family car, neighbors also became suspicious and notified the authorities. Investigators shut down any further work on the restaurant, warning Mr Faggiano he was conducting an unofficial archaeological dig.

Afraid of costs and the delay in opening the restaurant, Mr Faggiano initially kept his amateur archaeology a secret from his wife. Here, he sorts though pieces of glass and pottery found in one of the rooms. There are even pieces embedded in the wall
Afraid of costs and the delay in opening the restaurant, Mr Faggiano initially kept his amateur archaeology a secret from his wife. Here, he sorts though pieces of glass and pottery found in one of the rooms. There are even pieces embedded in the wall
Upon further investigation, the family team also discovered a Roman room that was used to store grain and a basement of a Franciscan convent where nuns were thought to have once prepared the bodies of the dead. The cavernous property has been turned into a museum so visitors can easily see the remains (pictured)
Upon further investigation, the family team also discovered a Roman room that was used to store grain and a basement of a Franciscan convent where nuns were thought to have once prepared the bodies of the dead. The cavernous property has been turned into a museum so visitors can easily see the remains (pictured)
Mr Faggiano (pictured here with his son in an ancient underground room) admits to becoming obsessed with the project, but still wanted to open his restaurant
Mr Faggiano (pictured here with his son in an ancient underground room) admits to becoming obsessed with the project, but still wanted to open his restaurant
Mr Faggiano, pictured here, said: ‘At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore I bought cinder blocks and was going to cover it up and pretend it had never happened’
Mr Faggiano, pictured here, said: ‘At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore I bought cinder blocks and was going to cover it up and pretend it had never happened’

After eight years and still no restaurant, you may find the Museum Faggiano which allows you to view the excavations below the house. Lucian admits that he has become fascinated by the excavation that took place beneath his restaurant, but remembers when he wanted to just brick it all up and get his restaurant off the ground.

Lucian still has dreams to open his restaurant, but he thinks he will research the area and open it one with no ruins underneath.

Google maps gives you a bird’s eye view of some of the passageways and staircases which have been uncovered and cleaned, and are now ready to be seen. Visitors can go down staircases and take a look for themselves.

Source: Nytimes