Known as the “Florence of the South” for its beautiful Baroque buildings. Surrounded by gentle hillsides dotted with enchanting villages, Lecce is a laid-back city with hospitable people, great food and natural and architectural beauty. A university city and capital of the province by the same name in the Apulia (or Puglia in English) region of Italy. For those who say Italy looks like a boot, Lecce is located in the middle of the actual heel. Lecce is known for the wine and olive oil industry. No surprise here…the city includes many churches, plazas, and even a Roman amphitheater. While larger than the quaint Pulgian villages, this is also best explored aimlessly meandering the old cobblestone streets.
Start your morning off with a coffee in Lecce’s Centro Storico:
Start your morning off with a coffee in one of the many Piazzas in Lecce’s Centro Storico (historic center):
What feels like the epicenter of Lecce is the buzzing Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Site to a Roman Amphitheater, Palazzio di Seggio, and a column in honor of St. Oronzo, the patron saint of Lecce. Don’t worry: there is even a McDonald’s where you can get a cheap ice cream cone! Both Pasticceria Natale (Via Salvatore Trinchese, 7) and Caffe Alvino (Piazza Sant’Oronzo, 30) offer great pastries and coffee. The pasticciotto is a favorite pastry of Puglians! If you end up meandering back to the plaza, Il Fornaio (Piazza Sant’Oronzo, 23) is great for sandwiches!
For those who have the stamina for yet another Italian church…the Basilica di Santa Croce (Via Umberto I, 1) and Duomo di Lecce (Piazza del Duomo) would be the two highlights of Lecce. The historic Piazza del Duomo is worth a walk around in your Lecce wandering.
Consider a day trip or activity:
We chose to take a day trip out to an old olive oil farm, Masseria Flaminio. We found it through airbnb experiences. Ariana, who manages the farm inherited from her father. Her great-grandfather bought the land from the church in the late 19th century. During WWII American Soldiers occupied the main house and used the secondary house as a prison for German Soldiers. Our tour included a comparison of 400 year old olive trees and 4 year old trees.
Enjoy a relaxing meal and local drinks:
One of my favorite memories of Lecce was just walking around with my friends at dusk, getting dinner and drinks over many laughs. The region is famous for orecchiette pasta (which is named after its shape, ‘small ears’) most often served with fresh seasonal vegetables. Lecce is most famous for its olive oil and wine, so make sure to try some locally sourced products when ordering!
This is easily placed into a ten day itinerary in Puglia, Italy. If you are exploring the Southern region of Italy, check out my itineraries for the breathtakingly beautiful Matera, relaxed beachside Polignano e Mar, quaint Locorotondo and Martina Franca.