A guide to visiting Lecce, Puglia

01st June, 2016
One of the largest cities in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, Lecce is a beautiful city renowned for its stunning architecture, often designed in the Baroque style. In comparison to other Italian cities such as Milan and Rome, Lecce is relatively quiet and tourist-free, making our luxury Lecce villas an excellent place to stay for a city break with a difference.

The history of the city actually goes back as far as the Roman era, and today you can still see the remains of a Roman theatre and amphitheatre, the centre of Lecce’s entertainment thousands of years ago. Much of the architecture, however, dates from the 17th century, with Baroque buildings filling much of the old town, reflecting an age of prosperity where an increase in wealth was also reflected in the city’s buildings. Lecce’s Baroque buildings stand out, however, as they were made with a soft local stone available at the time, with the style becoming known as Barocco Leccese.


The best place to start exploring the architecture on offer is perhaps the centro storico, or the historic centre, where a day or two can easily fly by exploring the several narrow lanes and streets and discovering many a Baroque church or palace, lined with cherubs carrying an array of different items. Make sure you don’t miss the Basilica di Santa Croce, decorated with an eye-catching façade which features all kinds of strange beasts and allegories.

The Piazza Sant’Oronzo and the Piazza del Duomo are two of the old town’s main focal points, filled with interesting buildings and making for a popular place to people watch. Both the ancient and the modern combine in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, where civic buildings stand side by side with the excavated Roman amphitheatre. The Piazza del Duomo is Lecce’s cathedral square, with the cathedral itself located in an enclosure as well as its towering campanile.

If you’re just planning a short visit, the best way to take in all of the main sights of the old town is the trenino, a tourist train. It’s a fun way to see what the old town has to offer if you’re in a hurry.

Besides the Baroque buildings, there’s also plenty of other interesting places to see, including a number of museums. Highlights include the Museo Teatro Romano, the Roman theatre’s museum, which offers an interesting look into the life of the Luccese under Roman rule. The Museo Provinciale is also the city’s main archaeological museum, with a number of exhibits demonstrating the long and varied history of Puglia.

Image: CucombreLibre, available under Creative Commons