Lecce is the capital city of the eponymous province in the region of Puglia. This is the region that takes up the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ shape. This city, as so many in Southern Italy, has seen Ancient Greek and Roman settlers and rulers. Over the years it has also passed through Saracen, Lombard, Hungarian, Slav and Norman hands to name just a few. Its position between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas gives it an incredibly convenient position, and it has generally prospered throughout its history.
You can still see some of its Ancient remains in the city, such as its Roman amphitheatre. Nevertheless, the majority of what you see today comes from its heyday, the 17th Century. As such, you will see plenty of baroque architecture throughout the town. Barocco Leccese, as it is called, is defined by its extensive use of cherubs, which seem to be carved in any possible stone surface!
The whole region of Puglia still enjoys a relative seclusion from mass tourism. That said, you won’t be the only tourist in this town, though you certainly won’t find the same crowds as in Rome, Florence or Venice. In fact, one of the best ways to do a quick tour of this city is on the little trenino. This ‘train’ runs through the city and covers the main sights. In the historic center you will find the Piazza Sant’Oronzo and Piazze del Duomo. In the latter you will also see the Duomo of Lecce, which is always an interesting visit.
Sometimes nicknamed the Florence of the South, Lecce’s highlights definitely belong in its architectural and cultural history. The strong Ancient Greek is very much evident, despite the very Italian architecture. In the surrounding area, for example, you will find the Grecia Salentina. This collection of towns and villages people still speak Griko, a language that derives from the original Greek.
Lecce is a great place to be based on a tour of Puglia or just Lecce. Alternatively, you can easily spend just a day or two exploring its history. Puglia is a great place to explore for its variety of landscapes and stunning coastlines. This is a haven for nature lovers, who can rock climb, trek, scuba dive, sail, windsurf, kite surf and go hiking in its landscapes. In the region you will also find the incredible white towns, such as Ostuni and Alberobello. The whitewashed walls were once this color to prevent disease spreading, but now they are intrinsic to the towns’ characters. Amongst these white walls you will also find trulli, the traditional building of Puglia.