Lecce is a city in Apulia region of Italy.
Lecce has been dubbed the Florence of the south. Whereas many people (not understandably) skip it in favour of the nearby beach towns of the Salento peninsula, this city, distinguished by its elaborate style of baroque buildings, has at least a couple of days of attractions worth seeing.
While the city's history dates back to the coming of the region's early settlers from the Balkans, it is under Roman occupation that it experienced substantial growth under the Latin name of Lupiae. After the dissolution of the Roman Empire Lecce was surpassed in mercantile and cultural relevance by the near port towns of Otranto, Taranto and Brindisi but it re-gained quickly status by the time it was incorporated in the Byzantine polity. At this time Lecce acquired many influences from its eastern neighbors, including from Greek Orthodoxy, giving birth to a syncretic Catholic-Byzantine religious rite which is still occasionally practised to this day.
Subsequently, the city came again to prominence in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth century, as it became refuge for aristocratic elites hailing from various parts of Italy during foreign occupation of those regions, an event which is by and large the main responsible for the flourishing of baroque architecture in the city.
This remarkable history, together with the notable use of a local limestone (the "leccese stone") for most of its construction, gives the city its unique bricolage of Messapic and Roman archaeological sites, baroque façades, Byzantine aesthetics, with a dash of 1920s modernism, an overall vibe which feels very distinct from the other cities of the region.
Today Lecce is a vibrant cultural center, with plenty of artisan workshops, music festivals and culinary gourmet.
Lecce is roughly 580km (although some older measurements claim up to 640km, depending on the route) from Rome.
Lecce is easily accessible by the airports in Brindisi (30 minutes by train) and Bari (2hours by train). There are discount flights available from London, Rome, Milan, etc. For a complete list, check out the Apulian airports website
There are FS trains from Foggia, Turin, Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan. You can also reach Lecce by Eurostar Train from Bologna through Rimini and Bari. Travel times from Rome and beyond can be long. Night trains with sleeping couches are available, and often a better bet.
The trains arrive at Lecce station, which is within walking distance from the city centre. Be aware that taxis anywhere can be expensive (expect to pay up to 15 euros to the center, especially if you have luggage items), so you may want to check with your hotel the public transportation options available. If your accommodation is in the city centre, walking is the best option - the old part of the city has narrow, winding streets which are not particularly suitable for cars.
The old town of Lecce is full of narrow streets which are barely suitable for driving. The City centre is small and easy to walk around.
There are bus connections to other major cities in the region and in Italy in general. Check the bus companies' website because many bus lines only operate during the tourist season (May - October).
There are ferry lines from Greece and Albania which go to Bari. From there you can use the public transport network to reach Lecce.
- Piazza S. Oronzo - Situated in the heart of the city and named after the patron saint's statue erect in 1666 after the population had defeated the plague which had broken out ten years before.
- The Roman Amphitheatre - Half of it is still buried under the streets of Lecce.
- Cathedral - A wonderful example of baroque style, most of the cathedral was designed by G.Zimbalo, the most celebrated architect of that time. He also designed the five floor belfry (1682).
- Porta Napoli - Also know as Arch of Triumph, it was erected in 1548 to pay homage to Charles V and thank him for having fortified the town. Twenty metres tall, the arch is situated in a square named after it, where S.Giusto once was.
- The Obelisk - Was erected in 1822 thanks to Vito Carluccio at the time when Ferdinando I Borbone came to visit the town.
- Paisiello Theatre - Once the permanent theatre of the town. Founded in 1758 and rebuilt in 1870, it was opened with the performance of Giuseppe Verdi' s 'Un ballo in maschera". Because of its rich decorations, this theatre - which can only contain 320 spectators - is nicknamed "The wedding souvenir".
- The Holy Cross Church - Is a symbol of the baroque style in Lecce buil in 1646, thanks to three well-know architects - Gabriele Riccardi, who devoted himself to the general plan and the lower part of the facade; Francesco Antonio Zimbalo who made the twin column porch and the portal aside; Cesare Penna who conceived the high level of the facade. The big Romanesque central rose window, the rich frame, the four columns, and the niches as well as the telamons, the imaginay creatures, the animals, the mythological and historical characters of the facade are all what makes this church unique and renowned over the world.
- City Walls - the city walls have been reconstructed and opened to the public in late 2017. The entrance is close to the bus station (City Terminal) and hotel Tiziano.
- Palazzo Marulli-Famularo - This aristocratic home boasts a wonderful garden in the heart of the city. As a preferred film location, it is rarely open to the public. Keep an eye on the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano)'s website for opening days.
Lecce hosts the University of Salento, with eight faculties and a large language center.
Many people go to Apulia to learn the typical rustico recipes of the region's cuisine. Cooking schools abound, including
- The Awaiting Table cooking school [www.awaitingtable.it]
- Stile Mediterraneo Italian Cooking and Wine School Puglia: culinary vacations and wine tours in Puglia Italy()
Although Lecce doesn't technically have a sea access, its closest shore and beach (on the Adriatic) is located only a few minutes by car or city bus from the city proper. From there on it's an endless sequence of stunning beaches both north- and south-wards.
- Head for the tourist office which organises free day trips to farms, villages and monuments around Lecce.
- Many bars will have a small weekly magazine called "Salento in tasca" - the middle pages list all free & paid events in and around Lecce
- PATH walks, talks & beyond, Lecce, . Tailor made wine and food tours, daily activities spanning from cycling to walking including private wine tasting tours of local boutique wineries and hands on cooking classes designed for individual travelers operated by your local concierge. edit
- Red Door Escape Rooms (Red Door Escape Rooms), Via Luigi Scarambone 5, ☎ +393887918119, . Monday to Sunday 10am to 11:30pm. Get trapped in a room. Solve the puzzles. Escape. €50. (40°21'13.4N,18°10'01.8E) edit
- Cooking lessons. Lecce hosts several cooking schools which specialise in the traditional Puglian cuisine.
The city centre has many antiquarian shops as well as bread & wine shops which offer zero kms, organic produce. A bottle of wine and a bag of tarallini would be a typical present from Lecce.
The region produces a lot of olives and extra virgin olive oil, as well as red wines and various antipastos. The tourist office has a wide selection of typical foods which make good presents.
Lecce is famous for the papier-mache and the soft Lecce stone used for souvenirs nowadays.
Try the typical sweet called pasticciotto. Any pasticceria would have it and the depending on the size and filling, the price varies between 1 - 3 EUR. Puglia is a pasta region, so try the local varieties the most famous one of which is orecchiette. Another delicious typical food is the frisa/frisella - hard dry bread which is soaked in water for a few seconds, then eaten with chopped fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and origano on top. If you want a quick snack, try some tarallini, bread rings in different sizes and flavours.
Many of the university students eat in the cheap snack-bars around the city centre. Try a piadina (round flat bread) with different fillings or a rustico (filo-dough filled with tomatoes, mozzarella and Bechamel sauce) both of which usually cost around 3-4 EUR.
- Cheers Gastro Pub (Cheers Pub Lecce), Viale Dell'Università,41, ☎ +39.3220.127.116.111, . Modern Irish Gastro Pub next to Porta Napoli provides cool Dishes&Drinks. Open all day. English Speaking Team. edit
- Joyce Vineria/Enoteca, Via Umberto I, 4, Lecce, Tel. 0832 279443
- Delicious "cucina tipica" food served with aplomb in a small restaurant in the old city. Many inventive and interesting recipes, plus a large and relatively inexpensive selection of regional and national wines. A terrific choice in the old city, where many restaurants are aimed at tourists and are of limited quality.
The local coffee is known as Caffè Leccese - a shot of espresso, almond milk and a big chunk of ice. A must in the summer. Many bars offer an aperitivo in the evenings. There are many local red wine varieties to try from - Primitivo, Negroamaro, etc.
- Azzurretta B&B, Piazza S.Oronzo – Via Andrea Vignes, 2b, ☎ 0039 338.258595, . Good value compared to hotels. About 1 block away from the walled old city. The owner, Marco Larusso, speaks English reasonably well and is very helpful and accommodating. Be prepared to spend up to an extra $10/day on metered street parking. edit
- B&B Corte dei Musco, Corte dei Musco, 3 - 73100 Lecce (Italy), ☎ +39 368 3740180, . "Corte dei Musco" B&B is in the historical centre of Lecce, near Porta Rudiae.It is on a ground-floor of a small, ancient building with a vaulted roof. The Building has been subtly restructured and is situated in a serene and characteristic court of Lecce.It has two independent suites and a large, sunny terrace with a gazebo, small tables and sun-chairs. edit
- B&B Lecce Villa Giuliana wine & rooms, Via Carretti 6 Arnesano, ☎ +39 340 080 9257, . en-suite rooms at only 5 minutes drive from the Lecce town center immersed in a lush garden and olive grove with swimming pool, organic fruit and home baked cakes. Linen and towels are also provided. min €45 max € 60 per person per day. edit
- B&B Piazza 300mila (bed and breakfast Lecce), Via Quarantasettesimo Reggimento Fanteria, 40, 73100 Lecce, ☎ +39 0832.308183, . checkin: 14.00; checkout: 10.30. Bed and Breakfast " Piazza 300mila " is situated into an elegant flat located in an modern palace of the center of Mazzini’s plaza, in the commercial part of the city. The Forniture is modern, every room has heating during winter and Air conditioning during summer, television, dvdplayer and a small refrigerator and WI-FI Internet Access. edit
- B&B Voler Lecce, Viale Oronzo Quarta 22, 73100, Lecce, ☎ +39 3898940847, . Bed & Breakfast is situated in an historical building by the end of XIX century in the centre of Lecce. Suites are large and luninous vaulted a stella. edit
- B&B La Piazzetta (B&B lecce / Bed and breakfast Lecce), P.zza SS. Addolorata n12 (Lecce), ☎ + 39 3334948625, . checkin: 11:00; checkout: 10:00. In the historical center of Lecce, it was born among the first B&B in Lecce, B&B La Piazzetta, offers an alternative holiday to the rigor of the hotel and the hotel, at a price and a much higher quality. The B&B Lecce offers unique emotions for the friendliness and competence of its staff, always ready to meet any requirements of its customers. 50€. (40.357251,18.171223) edit
- B&B Inn Centro (Bed Breakfast Lecce), Via Oberdan 69, 73100, Lecce, Italy (Via Oberdan 69, 73100, Lecce, Italy), ☎ 0832393484, . A few metres from Piazza Mazzini, the town’s main shopping area.The comfortable, cosy atmosphere. (40.3531207,18.18155) edit
- Wanderlust B&B lecce (Bed Breakfast Lecce), Via Di Pettorano 30, 73100, Lecce, Italy (Via di Pettorano 30, 73100, Lecce, Italy), ☎ +39 333 405 0311, . A modern apartment in a quiet, residential area of Lecce's city center. A 10 minute walk to the historic center. Friendly staff that speaks Italian, German, and English. A/C, Wi-Fi, and off-street parking on request. (40.3617238,18.1741665) edit
- Agriturismo Arangèa, S.P. San Pietro in Lama/Monteroni angolo Via Vecchia Copertino, ☎ +39, . an old farmhouse of a previous mansion, in the heart of Salento peninsula. edit
- Hotel Casina Copini, Via S. Angelo 73038 Spongano, Tel. +39 0836.945352 - Fax +39 0836.945352, . Hotel Casina Copini offers visitors comfort and a swimming pool and a park in the context of a 19th century villa in the province of Lecce.
- Hotel Casina dei Cari, S.P. Presicce-Lido Marini, 73054, Presicce Lecce - Tel. +39 0833.711284 - Fax +39 0833.711284, . Immersed in verdant Salento, amidst olive trees and stone walls, the Hotel Casina dei Cari has inherited a historical farmhouse between Presicce and Lido Marini.
- Masseria Scinata Dimora Antica B&B , Strada Santa Caterina, 201, 73048, Nardo', S.Caterina Lecce - Tel. +39 339.4985458 - Fax +39 0833.872821, . Scinata Dimora Antica is an holiday villa in Puglia, in the Salento region, a luxury B&B in Santa Caterina di Nardò near Gallipoli (Lecce).
- Motel Aloisi, Via Taranto 297, Tel. +39.0832.240607, Fax +39.0832.243786, . 3-star hotel on the Salento peninsula.
- Tenuta Monacelli, SS Quinzano Località Cerrate-Casalabate - Contrada Monacelli , 73100, Casalabate-Lecce - Tel. +39 0832.382037 - Fax +39 0832.382037,. Tenuta Monacelli, a farmhouse in Lecce, for exclusive farm holidays in Puglia, in the enchanting Salento region.
- Villa delle Palme, via kennedy, trepuzzi, 73019, - Tel. +39 0832755557 ,. In the heart of Salento in Trepuzzi, Lecce, Bed and Breakfast B&B Villa delle Palme, invites you to spend a relaxing holiday in absolute peace immersed in the nature and in the green.
- Masseria Salento Chiccorizzo, Contrada Chicco Rizzo - Sternatia (LE), 73010, - Tel. +39 328 8575989, . The Masseria Chiccu Rizzu is located between Lecce and Otranto in the heart of the area known as “Grecia Salentina”, whose inhabitants still speak an ancient language descended from Ionian Greek known as Griko.
Lecce has been ranked as the safest city in southern Italy and it has remained largely free of the activities of the region's organized crime that have afflicted in the past other cities of the south. However moderate caution should be exercised, as in any other city, especially in the less lit backstreets from the center or the area adjacent the train station, particularly at night or during summer's afternoon closing time.
Nearby Lecce are the following towns:
Other popular destinations such as Alberobello and Matera are also easily reachable by car. Consider spending at least on day at each, but if you're too short on time it is possible to see the main attractions of both in a day trip from Lecce (at least 5 hours by car).