Whenever you tell someone that you are going to Puglia, one of the first questions that they ask is: “Are you going to Lecce?” Then, if you say no, they will usually shake their heads, and say something like: “That’s too bad.” This has happened to me countless times. But it piqued my interest, and I knew that I had to make the trip down to what everyone calls “the Firenze of the South.”
I booked myself a one-bedroom apartment on Booking.com, at a place called Salento Living Apartments. The apartment was beautiful and spacious. I loved it! The bedroom and the master bathroom were on the top floor, while the living room, entrance way, dining room, and kitchen were on the ground floor. There was a colorful second bathroom on the ground floor, which is the one pictured above. The apartment itself was situated on a quiet side street, right at the beginning of the Centro Storico (Old Town) of Lecce. It was perfect! It was close to everything, and yet quiet, so sleeping was not a problem. And at under 100 euros per night, it was a bargain!I gave myself four days to explore this city that is considered to be one of the jewels of southern Italy. And as soon as I began to wander through its winding streets, I realized that all that I had heard about the place was true. It really is incredible!To say that Lecce is a Baroque-style city would be an understatement. It’s almost as if someone waved a Baroque wand and created a city/fantasy land that is just an absolute wonder to behold. The truth is, though, that this is a city that was created by builders and artists, making the entire place feel like a living open-air museum.Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II is a little green oasis, in the heart of the city. Its edges are lined with cafés and bars, which in the evening, become quite popular and crowded.Nearby is Piazza Sant’Oronzo, one of Lecce’s main squares. This has been one of the city’s main gathering places throughout its history. Evidence of this is easy to see by visiting the site of the Roman amphitheatre, which was discovered in the 1920’s. Messapia Wine Bar is a great place for a drink, or a bite to eat. I had lunch there. The art of making statues, using the technique of paper mache, is very much alive in this city. Many of the city’s churches feature the statues on their altars, and there are workshops along many of the smaller side streets.The Piazza del Duomo is another of the city’s beautiful spaces. Surrounded mainly by religious buildings, it is not only a joy to behold, but is also peaceful and calming. To enter it, one walks past the propylaea, a sort of terrace/balcony on both sides of the street, designed by Emanuele Manieri, which holds 3 statues on each side, depicting saints and fathers of the church.The Duomo is a very beautiful church, and is a must-see, when in Lecce. Do not miss the crypt with its 92 columns! Gustoliberrima is a book store devoted to all things cooking and kitchen-related! I had such a good time in there! For dinner, I made my way over to a place called Arte dei Sapori, where I dined on dishes such as zucchini lasagna, and a delicious chestnut and mushroom mousse.
Next up: More from Lecce!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from bella Puglia, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!