Baroque charm and culinary delights in the ‘Florence of the South’

Brimming with history and bathed in golden sunlight, Lecce is the perfect place for a pitstop in Puglia. Get lost amid its honey-coloured sandstone buildings and winding cobbled streets. Soak up the romance of Roman ruins. And discover the culinary gems that the residents of Italy’s ‘heel’ are so rightly proud of.

Things to Do

Stroll the streets of Lecce and you’ll find a good café on every corner. You can expect excellent pizza, pasta and gelato – this is Italy after all – but Lecce has its own regional specialities. Try a savoury puff pastry rustico for lunch or on the go, and don’t leave without sampling a pasticciotto, a sweet buttery pastry filled with custard. Lecce is a great place to get hands on with Puglian cuisine – try a cooking experience hosted in a local home and enjoy the fruits of your labour once the hard work is done.

You’ll get the best sense of Lecce’s essence by walking, stopping in at its myriad churches and small museums. The city awakes after the afternoon siesta, when locals and visitors alike take a pre-dinner stroll in a nightly passeggiata, past restaurants, wine bars and boutiques. Lecce has been famed since the 17th-century for its unique papier-mâché crafts – visit a workshop on your walks, watch the artisans and pick up a piece of art to take home.

Lecce’s 2,500 years of history come to life in its architecture. You can’t miss the 70-m high bell tower in the Piazza del Duomo, and the intricately detailed Baroque façade of the Basilica di Santa Croce. The town’s Roman amphitheatre was only excavated after the Second World War – visit at dusk for maximum ancient ambiance. Don’t limit your explorations to Lecce itself. Nearby towns and villages are also bursting with history, with Martano’s medieval castle a must-visit. 

Top Tip from SLH

Lecce is just a stone’s throw from some of Southern Italy’s most beautiful coastal towns. Take a daytrip to Gallipoli or Otranto for a paddle in the Mediterranean.