8 Fantastic Things to Do in Lecce That You Will Love!
Fall head over heels in love with the stunning capital city, Leece, situated on the Italian boot in the region of Puglia. It has remained untouched by flocking tourists, giving you an authentic feel of the rustic life. Italians from all over the country use the area as their holiday destination, the fertile soil in the region provides incredible food and drink, and there are beautiful beaches and coves just a short journey away. As you wander through the narrow maze of cobbled streets, admiring the jumble of palaces, churches and homes, all with incredible Baroque architecture you will be amazed. The town is not only a delight during the day, at night it comes to life, with busy bars and restaurants with alfresco dining.
The 2nd century AD amphitheatre is a marvel to be seen. It was only uncovered by construction workers in 1901 and was excavated in 1930; the site has been carefully restored and brought back to life with music and events regularly held there. Situated in the city centre, the excavation exposed up to 15,000 seats, but still roughly half of the amphitheatre isn’t visible, much of it is covered by the modern buildings surrounding it. The amphitheatre is a great spot for history lovers looking to be transported back in time, or for wanderers looking for a nice place to enjoy a cup of Italian coffee.
Lecce is full of artisan shops and boutiques. The farmlands and vineyards surrounding the city bring a plentiful supply of delicious locally grown and produced foods. Whether you are looking for an infused olive oil, a wheel of cheese or bottle of wine, you will find a taste sensation here. The traditional crafts are still prominent trades in the area; the streets are lined with ceramic shops, handmade Italian leather bags, bakery’s, clothing and gift shops, all selling unique, beautiful and desirable items. In true Italian style, the shops close from 2pm-5pm for the siesta, giving you and the shop keepers time for a bite to eat or a rest.
Castle Carlo V
Castle Carlo V is an incredible structure in the city centre that dates to the 12th century. The large and extensive defensive walls have been lovingly restored and are home to ever-changing art exhibits and events. The museum offers a glimpse into the history of the area, while the underground passages and basements are a cooling and impressive space to be.
One of the most prominent architectures of the time, Giuseppe Zimbalo envisioned the cathedral that stands in the heart of Lecce today. Built in 1659, the cathedral is a splendour to be seen, with a mix of Baroque and Norman styles, incorporating the church that previously stood on the site. Inside is a museum of sacred art, outside on the piazza there are regular street music and theatre performed, but it is the breathtaking statues, paintings and detailed walls and facades that take the limelight. Day and night, the incredible workmanship can be seen as the cathedral is delicately lit up during the darker hours.
Baroque Architecture, Via Libertini street
Lecce has some of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Italy. A style from the 16th century has seen many of the structures elaborately sculptured, with complex and highly decorative sculpting. Wander the streets of the city, particularly Via Libertini street to look up to the building tops and marvel the craftsmanship and beauty.
Dinner and drinks
Lecce has plenty of options when it comes to eating out. Whether you want a fine dining experience of fusion foods, or you want to opt for the more traditional choices on the menu. There is an eatery to satisfy any ‘fancy.’ We would love to hear which are your favourite restaurants in the area!
The railway museum is in the city centre, run by enthusiastic volunteers who gladly offer their knowledge on the locomotives which are from various times in history. Give yourself plenty of time here as there are lots to see, from steam to diesel and electronic trains. The large collection also includes support equipment, rolling stock, carriages, prison carts, old photos and posters.
Gallipoli beach is the most popular in the area. The long beach, with fine sand and clear waters, is around a 45-minute drive from the city centre. Although, if you are searching for a less crowded and closer option, the South-East coast is the place to go. There are bays and beaches dotted from Brindisi to Otranto. One of the closest beach to Lecce is San Cataldo, a small seaside village, just a 20-minute drive from the centre. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are stunning coves to be explored either side of the bay, offering privacy and seclusion.
Our villas in Puglia provide a perfect base for your exploration of beautiful Lecce, whether you’d like to spend your time relaxing on the beach or browsing around the boutiques, there is something for everyone.
Image credit: CucombreLibre