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Lecce, Italy is greater than only a metropolis within the heel of the boot — this artsy, distinctive metropolis is usually referred to as the “Florence of the South.” When you liked the Tuscan capital however perhaps want it had a couple of much less vacationers, Lecce is assured to solid its spell on you!
Lecce is a small metropolis with an enormous architectural legacy within the Salento area of Puglia. I first visited Lecce as a base for exploring this deeper, southern a part of Puglia, and it made an ideal base. Lecce is an inland metropolis, however you may simply get to the famed seashores of the Ionian and Adriatic coastlines in lower than an hour’s drive.
Puglia is normally related to conical trulli buildings and gentle sandy seashores, however Lecce is all in regards to the Baroque. Make that “Lecce Baroque!” Lecce flourished within the seventeenth and 18th centuries throughout a flurry of development.
A neighborhood, warm-hued stone referred to as pietra leccese was the go-to and it added a softer twist to the usual structure of the time. There you see how the Puglian metropolis earned its nickname!
My favourite factor to do in Lecce was simply to take in the ambiance, strolling the passeggiata because the solar went down, poking my head into fascinating retailers and attempting numerous totally different wines and meals. Every little thing in Lecce is sun-soaked and welcoming.
Apart from all of the distinctive issues to do in Lecce, this metropolis is considerably extra reasonably priced than traditional Italian hotspots like Rome or the Amalfi Coast. I additionally discovered Lecce to be cheaper than well-liked close by cities like Monopoli and Matera.
Surprisingly well-connected by the quick Frecciarossa trains (significantly, trains from Lecce go all the best way to Torino within the far north! Torino!!), Lecce can be a worthwhile day journey from different spots in Puglia.
That mentioned — staying in a single day helps you to benefit from this southern Italy gem. If in case you have the time, I extremely suggest you keep in a single day, or for a couple of nights, like I did.
This put up was revealed in December 2023 and co-written by Adventurous Kate and Hannah Cooper.
Greatest Issues to Do in Lecce, Italy
Discover the Historic Heart of Lecce
Whether or not you’re there for the day or a few nights, the Centro Storico of Lecce will declare most of your consideration. You may stroll round at leisure, or be part of a strolling tour to be taught the historic and cultural context.
Don’t miss the remaining metropolis gates! Topped by carvings of saints, Porta Rudiae is the oldest of the trio. This and Porta Napoli are essentially the most spectacular though the oft-overlooked Porta San Biagio has the good thing about being quieter.
Undoubtedly wander via the landscaped park of Villa Comunale and go on a scavenger hunt for the primary church buildings. These are the Basilica di Santa Croce, Santa Chiara, San Mateo, and San Giovanni Battista.
Discovering Lecce is your quintessential guided tour filled with Lecce Baroque monuments. It’s additional sweetened by sampling the delectable caffè leccese: iced espresso made with almond milk.
Not up for lots of strolling? This two-hour Lecce Historic Points of interest Tour can be delivered by bike or by rickshaw!
When you’re touring as a bunch or household, then this unique Lecce Guided Strolling Tour gives superior worth. You’ll see the important thing sights and listen to in regards to the metropolis’s journey from its foundations to what adopted after the autumn of the Roman Empire. As a result of it’s a personal tour, you’ll have enter on the route.
See the Lecce Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo
Situated within the Piazza del Duomo, the magnificent Lecce Cathedral deserves particular point out. The foundations of the Norman church date again to 1144, however what you see as we speak was constructed within the seventeenth century. Architect Giuseppe Zimbalo was commissioned for the re-design and addition of the bell tower which set the tone for the Lecce Baroque fashion.
Guided excursions normally cease at Duomo di Lecce, though it prices further to enter. I like to recommend shopping for the mix package deal for 11 EUR ($12 USD), as this consists of entry to 4 different church buildings, plus the Seminary Palace.
The Seminary is value visiting purely to see the cloistered courtyard, however there’s additionally a small museum outlining native artwork tendencies of the seventeenth and 18th centuries.
Marvel on the Roman Amphitheater
There’s one headliner on the town you couldn’t miss should you tried — and that’s the Roman Amphitheater of Lecce. It’s partially underground and occupies a piece of the Piazza Sant’Oronzo – the very coronary heart of Lecce.
When you’ve traveled earlier than in Italy earlier than visiting Puglia, you’ll know that it’s uncommon to seek out these gigantic stadiums proper in the course of a metropolis! Work continues to be ongoing and excavations are restricted as a result of buildings constructed over the foundations.
It’s usually thought the amphitheater was constructed throughout the 2nd century and hosted gladiatorial video games and different grotesque occasions (no phrase on whether or not there have been any Russell Crowe or Joaquin Phoenix lookalikes current).
The world is simply accessible when it’s internet hosting a particular occasion, however you may see loads of it from the piazza. I significantly love the distinction of constructing you’ve got on this a part of Lecce — you may seize historical, Baroque, and mid-century structure in a single photograph!
Be a part of the Night Passeggiata
One of the crucial particular issues to do in Lecce is partake in a conventional southern Italy ritual. The passeggiata is when city residents head out for a dusk-time stroll via the historic heart (or alongside the seafront in coastal resorts). It principally attracts a line between the working day and dinnertime, whereas weekends have an much more celebratory ambiance.
I like the passeggiata — it’s the time to see and be seen. You see mother and father strolling with their youngsters, youngsters goofing off, and older of us gossiping with their greatest mates of fifty years.
In Lecce, the standard passeggiata loops round Piazza Sant’Oronzo and Piazza del Duomo. And this isn’t only for summer season (although it’s particularly good then) — passeggiata is a nightly factor in Lecce!
Improve your passeggiata expertise by stopping off for an aperitivo, the nightlife ritual all through Italy. Most bars dish out a couple of snacks on the home while you order a drink. I like a spritz at aperitivo — I normally seize an aperol spritz, however the sweeter Hugo is one other Italian traditional!
Benefit from the Lecce Wine Bars
When in Italy, drink wine – numerous it. Salento experiences a scorching and dry local weather which, when coupled with a gentle breeze from the Adriatic and Ionian seas, contributes to superior wine-making circumstances.
Primitivo is a well-liked pink wine made on this a part of Italy, and it’s additionally one in every of my all-time favourite wines. My husband is aware of to robotically order me a primitivo when he sees it on the menu! It’s deep, versatile, and I feel it goes effectively with all types of meals.
Top-of-the-line issues to do in Lecce at night time is hang around at one of many many wine bars. Just a few well-liked ones on the town are Enoteca Wine & Extra (which has a couple of totally different places), Miro Wine & Lounge, Le Vigne di Sammarco, and Shui Wine.
When you’re a vino aficionado, wine not join a tasting of Salento wines. Led by a service provider with an encyclopedic information of the Puglia area, you’ll pattern six glasses. This might be a mixture of pink, white, and rosé alongside complementary nibbles because the sommelier talks via the manufacturing strategies.
Take a Cooking Class in Lecce
The easiest way to get to know any Italian area is thru its meals, and that’s positively true for Lecce. However a solution to go a step additional is to take an area cooking class and discover ways to make Pugliese specialties of your personal!
This hands-on orecchiette cooking class reveals you how one can make recent pasta from scratch. Orecchiette is ear-shaped pasta typical of Puglia and also you’ll be taught the artwork of shaping it, cooking it, and devouring it. You’ll additionally get pleasure from a lunchtime tasting of 5 regional wines at this picturesque osteria.
When you choose pasta for dinner, this conventional house cooking expertise takes place within the night.
Final however not least, this three-hour pasta and tiramisu cooking class is a tad pricier as a result of it’s held in a personal house. You’ll make two pasta dishes and my favourite dessert of all time whereas the Prosecco flows.
Pattern Native Olive Oil
Salento wine is second solely to the peppery olive oil made on this a part of southern Italy. It tastes so good you’ll by no means return to the price range stuff!
This olive oil and wine tasting makes issues simpler for you by bringing a chunk of the olive farms to town heart. At a mellow wine bar, you’ll graze on bruschetta and different snacks drizzled with olive oil recent from the Puglian hills.
Go to the underground Museo Faggiano
The subterranean Museo Faggiano is likely one of the most uncommon points of interest in Lecce. There wasn’t something to write down house about this home on Through Ascanio Grandi till the flip of the millennium. Throughout routine repairs, the proprietor stumbled upon an unintentional archaeological web site.
Over 2,500 years of historical past lay within the cellar of this historic constructing, together with a tomb from the times of the Messapian tribe and etchings from the Knights Templar. The museum is fully family-run and tremendous partaking because it has such a mixture of relics.
The Faggiano Museum is open each day from 9:30 AM-8:00 PM and prices 5 EUR ($5.50 USD) to go to.
Tour the Museo Ebraico di Lecce
One other museum for a wet day, the Museo Ebraico di Lecce is the Jewish Museum. Housed under floor in an previous synagogue, the exhibition traces the native Jewish neighborhood from the Center Ages to the current day. It accommodates the ritual bathing swimming pools (mikwa’ot) and sacred scriptures (mezuzah).
Admission comes with a information which is helpful as there may be a number of historical past to chew via. In case you are touring as a pair or group, e-book this personal tour of the Jewish Museum Lecce. It lasts 45 minutes and allows you to ask inquiries to your coronary heart’s content material.
The museum is open each day from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM (10:30 AM-1:30 PM on Sundays).
Snack on pasticciotto
Sightseeing is hungry work and reaching for the carbs is a component and parcel of an Italian trip. Top-of-the-line issues to do in Lecce is to attempt pasticciotto — small, stuffed pies a bit much like Portuguese egg tarts — everytime you spy a bakery.
Pasticciotti can be found all through Italy. Fillings embrace custard and ricotta however the Lecce ones have a vanilla-cream core.
Puglians are inclined to eat them for breakfast however they’re there while you want a pick-me-up, too. Pasticciotto are offered in all places together with the pasticcerie dotted round Villa Comunale, together with Natale and Mignon di Pranzo Benito.
Attempt your hand at paper-mâché artwork
One of the crucial stunning issues about Lecce is its repute for paper-mâché! The Pugliese have normal decorations utilizing this historical approach because the seventeenth century and also you’ll spot paper-mâché souvenirs throughout city. Actually, the ceiling of the Church of Santa Chiara is produced from paper-mâché that imitates wooden.
This paper-mâché workshop is a enjoyable solution to spend an hour in Lecce. Knowledgeable information will instruct you how one can craft a mini trinket utilizing paper and glue manufactured from water and flour.
The exercise is designed for all ages and is held within the night, simply because the passeggiata attracts to an in depth.
Go to the close by seashores
Lecce doesn’t have its personal seaside, however the metropolis is a brief drive from the shoreline. When you hire a automotive you may take your decide of seashores on the peninsula. This actually is the simplest choice as public transport is time-consuming.
San Cataldo, on the Adriatic coast, is the closest. Bus S16 departs from Villa Comunale and takes 40 minutes. There’s little in the best way of sights however the seaside is sandy with nice swimming circumstances and lidos renting umbrellas, within the conventional Italian fashion. Both take a picnic from Lecce or decide up seafood at one of many informal promenade eateries.
The Ionian Sea is trickier with out a rental, however the 104 bus reaches Porto Cesareo in a single hour. Torre Lapillo sits simply north of the buzzing port city and is healthier with a automotive because it’s 35 minutes from Lecce.
An additional 10 minutes north and also you’ll attain Punta Prosciutto, some of the well-known seashores in Puglia. These two cities within the Bay of Taranto are nicer should you fancy a day of swimming and sunning!
Take a day journey to Otranto
Otranto is a beautiful seaside city on the Adriatic coast of Puglia. It’s good for a seaside afternoon throughout summer season, however a wander alongside the lungomare works at any time of 12 months.
Don’t be deceived by the common-or-garden exterior of Otranto Cathedral; the nave is marked by essentially the most extraordinary mosaics! The Fifteenth-century Castello Aragonese stands within the historic heart and allows you to scope out a free spot to put your towel.
Bus quantity 106 connects Lecce Bus Station in a single hour however driving takes 40 minutes. When you’re there, both discover at will or e-book this personal Otranto strolling tour. It’s a good way to brush up in town’s historical past and listen to tales you’d in any other case miss.
Another choice is to bag an area on a tour of Otranto, Leuca, Gallipoli, and Galatina from Lecce. It’s a full-day outing with views galore as your driver handles the driving between these 4 distinct cities. When you’re trying to pack lots into your restricted time within the Salento area, it is a nice choice.
Spend a day in Gallipoli
Located on the Ionian coast (and really totally different from the Turkish area of the identical title), Gallipoli is one other Puglia seaside city value a day journey from Lecce.
Gallipoli’s historic heart floats off the mainland on a fortified limestone island. It’s chock-full of church buildings and lined with sandy seashores. Prioritize the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purità, which additionally has an unreal stage of ornamentation inside.
In addition to the aforementioned tour of Otranto, Leuca, Gallipoli and Galatina, you may drive the 40 minutes in a rental or hop on the 108 bus, which takes one hour. Simply observe that the bus terminal is a 20-minute stroll from the Greek Fountain that marks the doorway to Gallipoli Vecchia.
Discover different small cities in Puglia
No two Puglian cities are ever the identical. Solely by renting a automotive or becoming a member of a tour will you see how exceptional this space of southern Italy is.
Bump Ostuni and Alberobello to the highest of your checklist. Ostuni has a stunning whitewashed previous city that’ll have you ever itching to place Google Maps apart and get totally misplaced.
In the meantime, Alberobello has a excessive focus of trulli: conventional Pugliese dwellings with conical roofs. Alberobello’s assortment of trulli is a UNESCO World Heritage Website. It takes one hour to achieve Ostuni from Lecce, and from there it’s an additional 45 minutes to Alberobello.
Polignano a Mare is one other Adriatic coastal resort suspended over the turquoise water, and residential to one in every of Puglia’s most well-known cliff-hugged seashores. Subsequent door is the extra low-key city of Monopoli, one in every of my favourite locations in all of Italy. Each cities are a couple of 90-minute drive from Lecce.
When you’d somewhat not drive, hand over the reins to this Ostuni, Alberobello, and Polignano a Mare full-day tour. You’ll have free time in every city.
Take a street journey to Matera
Matera is a one-of-a-kind metropolis within the Basilicata area of Italy, simply over the Puglia border. It sits on a rocky outcrop and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Website on account of its cave dwellings generally known as sassi. Individuals really lived in these caves as late because the Fifties, with out electrical energy or water, and it was known as Italy’s Disgrace.
Within the Nineteen Eighties, Matera started growing its tourism, and lots of the sassi had been become luxurious accommodations. At this time Matera is a significant hotspot in southern Italy, and is crucial to Puglia itineraries, regardless of technically not being a part of Puglia.
When you’re a Bond fan, you’ll acknowledge the backdrop from No Time To Die (which occurred to be filming once I was there!). The Ardour of the Christ was additionally filmed right here.
Matera is fairly far, so it’s solely value visiting as a day journey if you’re staying some time in Lecce. When you’re splitting your stays between Lecce and someplace additional north, nearer to Bari, like Monopoli or Polignano a Mare, I like to recommend visiting from there.
As there are heaps of fascinating issues to do in Matera, you may wish to contemplate spending an evening there in a cave resort. There are a lot of, starting from reasonably priced to luxurious.
It takes 2 hours and quarter-hour to drive to Matera from Lecce.
How a lot time to spend in Lecce
A day or two is ample for seeing the highlights of Lecce with out leaving city. Sooner or later in Lecce is sufficient to discover the historic heart and see the gates, church buildings, Baroque monuments, and amphitheater.
Keep no less than one night time if you wish to responsibly benefit from the wine bars or a pleasant dinner. In any other case, Italy’s Florence of the South is a superb contender for a day journey from close by Puglian cities.
I personally liked spending a couple of days in Lecce, and I feel it makes a superb base for a wider exploration of the Salento area. It actually helps that Lecce will get you much more worth for cash than most locations in Italy.
When you’re driving a automotive and utilizing Lecce as a base, ask your lodging the place you must park. Like most Italian cities, Lecce has a ZTL (zona traffico limitato), which implies that solely residents can drive or park within the metropolis heart. Our lodging host gave us instructions to a free car parking zone simply exterior town heart.
And don’t overlook to learn my information to driving in Italy should you’re planning an Italian street journey!
Learn how to get to Lecce
Lecce is accessible through air, rail, and street. The closest airport — identified interchangeably as Salento and Brindisi Airport (BDS) — is positioned 30 miles north alongside the coast. It takes 45 minutes to drive to Lecce by rental automotive, whereas buses take 40 minutes and price 6 EUR ($5.50 USD). When you’re already in Brindisi, you may catch a Trenitalia practice, which takes 24 minutes flat.
That mentioned, there aren’t a ton of flights from Brindisi Airport. Bari Airport (BRI) is a bigger airport in Puglia with extra considerably extra flight choices, however an extended switch. (That is the place I fly into when visiting Puglia.)
Driving time from Bari Airport to Lecce is 1 hour and 45 minutes, and I like to recommend breaking apart your drive with a cease in Ostuni. Trains from Bari Centrale take 1 hour 45 minutes, with a change at Brindisi.
Excessive-speed Frecciarossa trains join Lecce with Rome (Roma) in 5.5 hours, Florence (Firenze) in round 8 hours, and even Turin (Torino) in round 11 hours. I like these quick trains (and their enterprise class is so luxe!), however they are often costly and get dearer nearer to your journey date. I like to recommend reserving prematurely.
Total, I like to recommend exploring Puglia by automotive if doable. You’ll be capable to go to essentially the most locations, have loads of flexibility, and never have to fret about strikes or cancellations.
The place to remain in Lecce
One of the best a part of Lecce to remain in is the historic metropolis heart. This manner, you’ll have all of the baroque landmarks at arm’s size and your first selection of the place to eat. And since Lecce is an inexpensive vacation spot by Italian requirements, splurging a bit extra right here will get you much more on your cash than, say, Florence.
Luxurious: Reside like a Medici at Palazzo Console! This freshly renovated property has a swimming pool and is a stone’s throw from Piazza del Duomo. All 5 rooms are individually adorned with premium linens and marble bogs — two have the bonus of a personal hydromassage spa.
Midrange: Santacroce Luxurious Rooms is a contemporary resort across the nook from the amphitheater. It’s minimalism galore: assume clear traces and an emphasis on consolation. Excellent for households or touring mates, the suites have a balcony primed for people-watching over morning espresso.
Finances: Cocoon your self away at this atmospheric mattress and breakfast in a historic constructing characterised by uncovered pietra leccese. B&B Antiche Volte is correct within the coronary heart of Lecce. Rooms are cozy, the breakfast is top-notch, and the web site swears it’s ghost-free.
Greatest Time to Go to Lecce
My golden rule of Italy journey is to keep away from peak summer season journey at any time when doable. If you would like a summer season journey, you should have a a lot simpler and fewer crowded time in early June or late September than peak July or August. And since Puglia has an extended summer season season, you may get pleasure from swimming as early as late Could or as late as mid-October.
Shoulder season is a superb time to go to Puglia, and I feel that is the perfect should you’re fascinated with exploring historic websites, ruins, and fascinating cities. April and October are significantly pretty.
Winter isn’t a foul time to go to Lecce; in actual fact, I’ve a buddy who hopped on an inexpensive flight from Prague to Bari and had a ball visiting Puglia’s Christmas markets in December! Some smaller seaside resorts might be closed down, however it is a nice time for visiting Lecce in addition to Matera, Bari, and Alberobello.
Simply don’t anticipate it to be seaside climate, until you wish to take part with that one previous dude in a speedo who jumps within the water three hundred and sixty five days a 12 months (there’s one in each city).
Is Lecce Price It?
I like Lecce and I feel it’s such a particular, lovely place. I like the easiness of the city, I like the bizarre mixture of structure, and I like the worth for cash you get right here.
Puglia is an space of Italy that I like dearly, and although Europeans have been visiting Puglia for fairly a while, it appears to be catching on a bit extra slowly with People. Let me let you know that that is an impressive a part of Italy to go to — and really totally different from the standard Rome-Florence-Venice route.
I hope you contemplate making Lecce part of your journey to Italy. I actually assume you’re going to find it irresistible!
Extra on Puglia, Italy:
Planning a Journey to Italy:
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Cool Locations in Northern Italy:
Have you ever been to Lecce Italy? Any ideas? Share away!