When Luciano Faggiano decided to open a restaurant in Lecce, Italy, he ended up discovering Roman ruins, as well as other archeological treasures. Faggiano and his sons dug trenches to investigate their sewage issues, but they soon discovered a Franciscan chapel, a Messapian tomb, and a granary, all in the land beneath the building he’d purchased. The site has also yielded relics, etchings by the Knights Templar, and medieval artifacts.
The New York Times interviewed Faggiano about the incredible site, which is now home to a museum, not his desired trattoria. When the sewage in the building became blocked, Faggiano called his older sons to help explore the trenches, thinking it would only take a week.
Lecce, in the heel of Italy’s so-called boot, was a “critical crossroads in the Mediterranean,” the Times explains. Historians believe that the site’s first settlement was during the time of Homer, after which other cultures came, invaded the city, and left various artifacts behind.
As the project grew, archaeologists found artifacts from almost every layer of Lecce’s inhabitants, from the Messapians through the Byzantine period. Through it all, Faggiano kept exploring the site not because he loved archaeology, but because he still hoped to find the sewage pipe. (He eventually did, and it was, in fact, broken.)
Eventually, the site became the Museum Faggiano, where visitors can explore Lecce’s underground chambers. Faggiano, for his part, has purchased another building, where he hopes to finally open his restaurant. Meghan DeMaria, according to The Week.