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.
Lecce is roughly 580 km (although some older measurements claim up to 640 km, 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, 1 km from the city center. 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.
- 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.
- 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 known 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 façade; Francesco Antonio Zimbalo who made the twin column porch and the portal aside; Cesare Penna who conceived the high level of the façade. The big Romanesque central rose window, the rich frame, the four columns, and the niches as well as the telamons, the imaginary creatures, the animals, the mythological and historical characters of the façade are all what makes this church unique and renowned over the world.
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]
- Lecce cake
- fantastic gelato from Gelateria Natale in the old city.
- Cheers Gastro Pub (Cheers Pub Lecce), Viale Dell'Università,41, ☎ +39 328 30 56 781. Modern Irish Gastro Pub next to Porta Napoli provides cool Dishes&Drinks. Open all day. English Speaking Team.
- Joyce Vineria/Enoteca, Via Umberto I, 4, Lecce, Tel. +39 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.
- Azzurretta B&B, Piazza S.Oronzo – Via Andrea Vignes, 2b, ☎ +39 338 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.
- 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.
- B&B Lecce Villa Giuliana, Via Carretti 6 Arnesano, ☎ +39 340 080 9257. Large free parking area and lounge terrace, en-suite rooms within a lush garden and an acre of olive trees, organic fruit and home baked cakes, Linen and towels are also provided. min €40 max € 50 per person per day.
- B&B Piazza 300mila (bed and breakfast Lecce), Via Quarantasettesimo Reggimento Fanteria, 40, 73100 Lecce, ☎ +39 0832 308183. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 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.
- Agriturismo Arangèa, S.P. San Pietro in Lama/Monteroni angolo Via Vecchia Copertino. an old farmhouse of a previous mansion, in the heart of Salento peninsula.
- 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, ☎ +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, ☎ +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.
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.