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About city Gallery Where to stay

Lecce is the star of Italy’s southern Apulia region. In the 17th century, the famous Irish novelist and traveller Thomas Ash called Lecce the most beautiful town in all of Italy. It is an architecturally accomplished and beautiful town with many Baroque elements, which makes it stand out among Apulian towns. Lecce is often called Florence of the South.

Modern Lecce is a graceful, yet rather laid-back university town, known for its many pretty marketplaces, good Apulian restaurants, and strong traditions of papier-mâché. Lecce also offers easy access to the Adriatic and Ionic Seas as well as stretches of Salento and many small southern towns. The permanent population of Lecce itself is about 100,000 and it is visited by hundreds of thousands of travellers every year.

Lecce - the amphitheater next to Piazza Sant Oronzo
Photo taken by  Lecce - the amphitheater next to Piazza Sant Oronzo

Founded by ancient Greeks, Lecce has a wealth of Hellenic heritage. Many settlements in this part of Italy trace their history to ancient Greeks, and locals still understand Greek today.

The Castle of Charles V (also known as simply Lecce Castle) is worth a visit. Built in the Middle Ages, it was fortified by Charles V in 1539. The entire town of Lecce mostly grew in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its magnificent façades are chiselled from soft limestone which is mined locally. The best example of “Lecce stone” work is the Basilica di Santa Croce.

Lecce is home to about 40 churches, as many castles and villas, so a walk along its streets will keep you busy spotting graceful architectural gems. Add to that good-humoured locals, plenty of sunlight, and the slow tempo of Southern Italian lifestyle. Many travellers settle in Italy’s other towns like Florence, Venice, and Rome, so Lecce will not give you tourist-weariness.

One of Lecce’s main industries is limestone mining and export. The soft stone is highly workable and perfect for sculpture and building. Lecce is also famous for its agricultural produce, excellent olive oils and rich wines.

The local cuisine is often called peasant food that is good for kings. It is a traditional, simple, and natural cuisine that dates back thousands of years. Lecce’s best-known rustic snack is a sandwich with Béchamel sauce, tomatoes, and Mozzarella cheese. Soft and crunchy buns for the sandwich are made with pig fat rather than butter.

The town has railway connections not just to Italy’s urban centres – Rome, Florence, Milan – but also to nearby celebrities, such as Alberobello, known for its quaint architecture, or Ostuni and Martina Franca.

Lecce is also surrounded by coasts and beaches, so it is not just a beautiful historic town, but also an excellent summer holiday spot.

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