Lecce is a beautiful and charming town located in the heart of the Salento, the southernmost area of Puglia. It is known for its stunning baroque architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture and is often referred to as the “Florence of the South”. If you’re planning a trip to Puglia, Lecce should be at the top of your list of places to visit.
Below are 5 nice things to know about Lecce.
DISCOVER OUR LUXURY VILLAS NEAR LECCE
1. A JOURNEY THROUGH HISTORY AND CULTURE
One of the most notable attractions in Lecce is the Basilica of Santa Croce. It is a magnificent Baroque church that is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in Italy. Built in the 17th century, this stunning church is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, featuring intricate carvings and elaborate frescoes.
Another must-see landmark in Lecce is the Church of Sant’Irene, an ancient church that dates back to the 13th century. This church is particularly noteworthy for its well-preserved frescoes, which are considered to be some of the most beautiful examples of Byzantine art in southern Italy.
Here there is a hypothetical itinerary through the historic center which also includes a visit to these two churches:
Start your day with a visit to the Church of Sant’Irene, after visiting the church, make your way to the Roman Amphitheater, which is located just a few blocks away. This ancient arena is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the city and is a fascinating look into the history of Lecce. In the afternoon, head to the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of the city, to explore the Cathedral of Lecce and the Bishop’s Palace. Take a stroll through the picturesque square and admire the surrounding buildings and monuments. From the Piazza del Duomo, make your way to the Porta Napoli, one of the city’s ancient gates, to get a glimpse of the city’s defensive walls and ramparts. After visiting the Porta Napoli, explore the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the main square of Lecce, and visit the column dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Take a moment to relax in the square and soak up the atmosphere of the city.
End your day with a stroll through the historic streets of Lecce and enjoy a traditional Italian dinner at one of the local restaurants. Try some of the region’s delicious seafood or sample some of the local wines.
2. THE STORIES BEHIND LECCE’S TREASURES
Lecce is full of fascinating stories and legends, and these tales are an important part of what makes the city so special.
THE STORY OF THE ARTIST GIUSEPPE ZIMBALO. One of the most interesting stories about the city concerns the famous Baroque artist Giuseppe Zimbalo. Zimbalo was born in Lecce in 1557 and spent most of his life working as a sculptor and architect. He is considered one of the greatest Baroque artists in the region and created many of the famous Baroque works which can still be seen in Lecce today.
According to legend, Zimbalo was so talented that his statues seemed to move by themselves. Locals said that he made a deal with the devil to get his talent and that his statues were animated by evil forces.
This story caused many people to shun Zimbalo’s works, fearing they might be influenced by evil. However, in the next years, Zimbalo’s talent and artistry have been re-evaluated and today they are considered some of the city’s most treasured treasures.
THE ORGAN OF SANTA CROCE CHURCH. The church is famous for its intricate sculptural details and decorations in Lecce stone, making it a true work of art. But what truly makes this church unique is its organ. The organ of the Church of Santa Croce is one of the oldest and best-preserved instruments in Puglia and a unique example of organ art. Built in 1776, the organ was crafted by a local artisan and still retains its original structure and components.
LECCE STONE. Lecce is famous for its unique type of stone called “Pietra Leccese”. This soft and malleable stone is quarried from the nearby hills and has been used for centuries to build some of the city’s most beautiful buildings and monuments. The softness of the stone makes it ideal for intricate carving and decoration, and it has become a hallmark of the Baroque architecture in Lecce.
One interesting anecdote about the Lecce stone is that it was once considered a nuisance by the city’s residents. The softness of the stone made it difficult to cut and shape, and it would crumble easily. But over time, local artisans discovered its beauty and versatility and began to use it in their work. Today, the Lecce stone is one of the city’s most prized resources. And its use has become synonymous with the beauty and elegance of Lecce’s architecture. The intricate carvings and decorations in Lecce stone are a testament to the skill and creativity of the city’s artisans. And they are one of the reasons why Lecce is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
3. A THRIVING NIGHTLIFE
Lecce is a lively and vibrant city, and its nightlife is one of the things that make it such a great place to visit. From trendy bars and nightclubs to cozy cafes and live music venues, there’s something for everyone in Lecce after dark. Whether you’re looking for a real party-night or just a relaxing evening, Lecce has plenty of options to choose from.
4. TASTING LECCE FLAVORS
Lecce’s cuisine is just as rich and diverse as its history and culture. The city is famous for its traditional sweets, including the “Pasticciotto“, a delicious pastry filled with sweet custard, and the “Caffè Leccese,” a sweet and creamy coffee.
The “Vino Primitivo” is another local specialty, it is a full-bodied red wine produced in the surrounding vineyards. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking for a taste of local culture, you can’t miss Lecce’s cuisine.
5. EXPLORING BEACHES NEAR LECCE
Last but not least, Lecce is surrounded by some of the best beaches in Puglia. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to soak up the sun or a lively beach with plenty of activities, you’ll find something to suit your needs. Some of the best beaches near Lecce include:
- Porto Cesareo: Located about 30 kilometers from Lecce, Porto Cesareo is a popular destination for beach-goers. The area boasts a series of long sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a picturesque marina.
- Baia Verde: Baia Verde is a popular destination for those seeking a more upscale beach experience. The area features a number of upscale resorts, restaurants, and bars, as well as a long, sandy beach.
- Santa Maria di Leuca: This charming town is located at the southern tip of the Salento peninsula and is home to a number of beautiful beaches, including the famous “Punta Ristola” beach.
- Gallipoli: Gallipoli is a historic town on the Ionian coast, famous for its beautiful beaches and clear waters. The town’s historic center is also worth visiting, with its narrow, winding streets and historic churches.
- Torre dell’Orso: This charming town is located on the Adriatic coast and is home to a number of beautiful beaches, including the famous “Baia dei Turchi” beach. Around the town there is lush greenery and it is a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful, natural setting.