Lecce has been dubbed "the Florence of the south". Whereas many people skip it in favour of the nearby beach towns of the Salento Peninsula, this city, distinguished by its elaborate style of baroque buildings, has at least a couple of days of attractions worth seeing.
Lecce is roughly 580 km (although some older measurements claim up to 640 km, depending on the route) from Rome.
- 1 Brindisi Airport (BDS IATA). It is the closest airport (35 km) and provides efficient connections through buses.
It is also the best way to reach the town from central and northern Europe. There are discount flights available from London, Rome, Milan, etc. For a complete list, check out the Apulian airports website.
There are FS trains from Foggia, Turin, Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan. You can also reach Lecce by Eurostar Train from Bologna through Rimini and Bari. Travel times from Rome and beyond can be long. Night trains with sleeping couches are available, and often a better bet.
The trains arrive at 2 Lecce railway station station, 1 km from the city center. Taxis anywhere can be expensive (expect to pay up to €15 to the center, especially if you have luggage items), so you may want to check with your hotel the public transportation options available.
- From Bari: at the Bari Nord exit of motorway, keep on the and reached Fasano continue on the until Brindisi, then go on the to reach Lecce.
- From Taranto: take the until Brindisi, then merge onto the towards Lecce.
The town is ringed by a freeway called Tangenziale di Lecce that you can join to bypass the city center.
These are the main private bus operator to get in the town:
- Marino (main continental Italy cities, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland)
- Marozzi (Avellino, Benevento, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Siena)
- Miccolis (Caserta, Matera, Naples, Pompeii, Salerno)
From June to September the province of Lecce manages the bus service Salentoinbus, that gives you the occasion to reach the town from the main seaside resorts of the territory.
- 3 Port of Brindisi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. It is the closest port and provides ferry services to/from Corfu, Durrës, Igoumenitsa, Kefalonia, Patra, Vlorë and Zakynthos.
Public transport is managed by SGM company, with 20 bus lines and 4 trolleybus lines. Single tickets can be purchased at most of tobacconists and newspaper sellers around the city. The cost of a single ticket is €1.00 (€1.50 if bought on board), a 90-min ticket is €1.30; a day ticket costs €2.50 while a seven-day ticket costs €9.70.
LecceTaxi covers the town and other destinations in the Salento area.
Here is a list of useful parking lots:
- 1 Piazza Carmelo Bene (Ex Foro Boario). It is near the Bus City Terminal with interchange to lines 29, 30, 31. €0.60/hr.
- 2 Oberdan Parking, Via G.Oberdan, 43, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hr. It also provides a service of car and bike rental.
- 3 [dead link] Metropark, Via di Ussano, toll-free: . 24 hr. 189 parking spaces 100 m from the railway station. €1.00/hr.
Through the Ciclovia Adriatica that connects Trieste with Santa Maria di Leuca, the coastline follows a riviera rich in beaches. The part from the Po Delta in Trieste is included in EuroVelo 8.
Walking is without doubt the best way to discover the main attractions of Lecce, since the whole old town is a limited traffic zone (ZTL). This feature gives the opportunity to move between monuments, churches and archaeological sites free from the stress of traffic.
Lecce has more than 30 historic churches, these are the most representative ones:
- 1 Church of the Holy Cross (Basilica di Santa Croce), Via Umberto I, 3, ☏ . 09:00-12:00 and 17:00-20:00. It represents the main example of Lecce baroque style. It was built between 1549 and 1695, thanks to three well-known architects: Gabriele Riccardi, who devoted himself to the general plan and the lower part of the façade; Francesco Antonio Zimbalo who made the twin column porch and the portal aside; Cesare Penna who conceived the high level of the façade. The big Romanesque central rose window, the rich frame, the four columns, and the niches as well as the telamons, the imaginary creatures, the animals, the mythological and historical characters of the façade are all what makes this church unique and renowned over the world. free.
- 2 Cathedral (Duomo di Lecce), Piazza del Duomo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A wonderful example of baroque style, most of the cathedral was designed by Giuseppe Zimbalo and it was completed in 1689. free.
- 3 Church of Saint Irene (Sant'Irene dei Teatini), Via Vittorio Emanuele II. A majestic baroque church with an elegant and quite sober exterior that hides a richly decorated interior. Free.
- 4 Church of Saint John the Baptist (Basilica di San Giovanni Battista), Via Giuseppe Libertini, 5, ☏ . A magnificent façade characterised by two grooved columns, completed in 1728. It is just few steps away from Porta Rudiae. Free.
- 5 Church of Santa Chiara, Piazzetta Vittorio Emanuele II, ☏ . Built in 1429 and renovated in 1691, its main features are the octagonal interior plan and the lavish altars. Free.
- 6 Roman amphitheatre (Anfiteatro romano), Piazza Sant'Oronzo, 42, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The structure was built during the 2nd century AD and it was able to seat more than 25,000 people. It is used for various religious, music and art events. Adults €3.00; groups €1.50; students €1.00.
- 7 Roman theatre (Teatro romano), Via Arte della Cartapesta, 10, ☏ . In the heart of the old town, it was built in the 1st century AD and it had a capacity of 5,000 people. It is now seat of events and performances.
- 8 Rudiae archaeological park (Parco archeologico di Rudiae), Via S. Pietro in Lama. Site of an ancient Messapian and then Roman town, 3 km south from the city center. Here you can see the remains of the amphitheatre, a necropolis and walls.
- Piazza S. Oronzo - It's in the heart of the city and named after the patron saint's statue erected in 1666 after the population had defeated the plague which had broken out ten years before.
- Paisiello Theatre - Once the permanent theatre of the town. Founded in 1758 and rebuilt in 1870, it was opened with the performance of Giuseppe Verdi' s 'Un ballo in maschera". Because of its rich decorations, this theatre - which can only contain 320 spectators - is nicknamed "The wedding souvenir".
- 9 Castle of Charles V (Castello Asburgico). A majestic medieval castle rebuilt during the first half of XVI century. It is seat of several exhibitions, events and conferences.
- 10 Triumphal Arch (Porta Napoli), Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo. It was erected in 1548 to pay homage to Charles V and thank him for having fortified the town. It is known as "Neapolitan Gate" since there started the road leading to Naples, capital of the kingdom.
- 11 Porta Rudiae. The oldest gate of the town, rebuilt in 1703 in baroque style.
- 12 Porta San Biagio, Piazza d'Italia, 8. The southern entrance to the old town, dedicated to Saint Blaise. It is 17 m (55 ft) tall and it's topped by the coat of arms of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
- 13 Park Tower (Torre del Parco), Viale Torre del Parco, 1, ☏ . A fortress symbol of Lecce's medieval period, built in 1419. It is now seat of meetings, weddings, cultural events and a 4-star hotel.
- 14 Obelisk (Obelisco), Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo (In front of Porta Napoli). 10 m (33 ft) high structure built in 1822 in honour of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
- 15 Palazzo dei Celestini, Via Umberto I, 13 (beside Basilica di Santa Croce), ☏ . The seat of Province of Lecce in an impressive baroque building completed in 1695
- 16 Palazzo del Seggio (il Sedile), Piazza Sant'Oronzo, ☏ . 09:30-13:30 and 15:30-19:30. Ancient city hall, it represents an interesting mixture of gothic and renaissance architecture. It is in the middle of the vibrant Piazza S.Oronzo, contiguous with the small Church of San Marco. Free.
- Nature walks and cycling excursions with PATH, a local company that specialises in private active holidays in Puglia, from nature walks across olive groves and along coastal trails to explore the coast and the Apulian countryside to experiential travel to discover the food and culture learning with the locals.
Many people go to Apulia to learn the typical rustico recipes of the region's cuisine. Cooking schools abound, including
- Stile Mediterraneo Italian Cooking and Wine School Puglia [dead link]: culinary vacations and wine tours in Apulia.
- Lecce cake
- fantastic gelato from Gelateria Natale in the old city.
Pasticciotto Leccese is the typical cake of the town. It is made of shortcrust pastry filled with custard and by tradition it must be eaten warm as a breakfast item.
- 1 Martinucci Laboratory, Via Salvatore Trinchese 7, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 09:00-01:30. Taste the delicious cakes and ice creams of the most famous ice-cream franchise of Salento.
- Joyce Vineria/Enoteca, Via Umberto I, 4, Lecce, ☏
- Delicious "cucina tipica" food served with aplomb in a small restaurant in the old city. Many inventive and interesting recipes, plus a large and relatively inexpensive selection of regional and national wines. A terrific choice in the old city, where many restaurants are aimed at tourists and are of limited quality.
- 2 Tabisca, Vico dietro lo Spedale dei Pellegrini 29 (an alley near Piazzetta Santa Chiara), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 18:30-01:00. Mediterranean cuisine with a large choice of wine in the earth of the old city.
- 1 Azzurretta B&B, Piazza S.Oronzo – Via Andrea Vignes, 2b, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Good value compared to hotels. About 1 block away from the walled old city. The owner, Marco Larusso, speaks English reasonably well and is very helpful and accommodating. Be prepared to spend up to an extra US$10/day on metered street parking.
- 2 B&B Corte dei Musco, Corte dei Musco, 3 - 73100 Lecce, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In the historical centre of Lecce, near Porta Rudiae. It is on a ground-floor of a small, ancient building with a vaulted roof. The building has been subtly restructured and is in a serene and characteristic court of Lecce. It has two independent suites and a large, sunny terrace with a gazebo, small tables and sun-chairs.
- 3 B&B Lecce Villa Giuliana, Via Carretti, 6, Arnesano, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Lecce immersed in a acre of olive groves and typical fruits of Salento offering en suite rooms and organic breakfast, with complimentary parking, swimming pool, lounge terrace, lush garden, bikes and plenty of daily activities from cooking classes to cycling and walking excursions. €40-50 per person per day.
- 4 B&B Piazza 300mila, Via 47° Reggimento Fanteria, 40, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:30. This bed and breakfast is in an elegant flat in a modern building in Piazza Mazzini. The furniture is modern, every room has heating during winter and air conditioning during summer, television, DVD player and a small refrigerator and Wi-fi.
- 5 Agriturismo Arangèa, S.P. San Pietro in Lama/Monteroni angolo Via Vecchia Copertino, 20, ✉ email@example.com. An old farmhouse of a previous mansion, in the heart of Salento peninsula.
- Hotel Casina Copini, Via S. Angelo 73038 Spongano, ☏ - Fax +39 0836.945352. Hotel Casina Copini offers visitors a swimming pool and a park in the context of a 19th-century villa in the province of Lecce.
- Hotel Casina dei Cari, S.P. Presicce-Lido Marini, 73054, Presicce Lecce - ☏ , Fax +39 0833.711284. Immersed in verdant Salento, amidst olive trees and stone walls, the Hotel Casina dei Cari has inherited a historical farmhouse between Presicce and Lido Marini.
- Masseria Scinata Dimora Antica B&B, Strada Santa Caterina, 201, 73048, Nardo', S.Caterina Lecce, ☏ , fax: . Scinata Dimora Antica is an holiday villa in Puglia, in the Salento region, a luxury B&B in Santa Caterina di Nardò near Gallipoli (Lecce).
- [formerly dead link] Motel Aloisi, Via Taranto 297, ☏ , fax: . 3-star hotel on the Salento peninsula.
- Tenuta Monacelli, SS Quinzano Località Cerrate-Casalabate - Contrada Monacelli, 73100, Casalabate-Lecce - ☏ , fax +39 0832.382037. Tenuta Monacelli, a farmhouse in Lecce.
- Villa delle Palme, Via kennedy, trepuzzi, 73019, ☏ . In the heart of Salento in Trepuzzi.
Nearby Lecce are the following towns:
Other popular destinations such as Alberobello and Matera are also easily reachable by car. Consider spending at least on day at each, but if you're too short on time it is possible to see the main attractions of both in a day trip from Lecce.
|Routes through Lecce|
|Taranto ←||W E||→ END|
|Padova ← Bari ←||N S||→ Otranto|
|END ←||N S||→ Gallipoli|
|Brindisi ←||N S||→ END|