Lecce is a small, historic city which is situated in the extreme southeast of Italy. Founded back in 200BC, it has often been likened to Florence, even though many people choose to head to the nearby coastal towns rather than exploring the city. Throughout the ages, Lecce has been occupied by the Romans and Normans, but repelled invasion by the Ottomans.
Today, Lecce is blessed with many great historical buildings, with much of them concentrated around the beautiful Piazza del Duomo. Other attractions that Lecce has include its wide range of religious buildings, its numerous live music venues where visitors can watch operas and orchestras perform classics and the surrounding countryside with its many great walking routes.
For driving in the older part of the city, a supermini or city car is an absolute must for getting around without any major problems. Street parking would be easier with one too.
The Paisiello Theatre is a small and intimate venue, but is also one of the most remarkable buildings in Lecce, nicknamed “The Wedding Souvenir” due to its intricate design. It still hosts operas and ballet today, seating just 320 people.
Lecce’s cathedral is notable for two things – being a fine example of Baroque architecture and having a five-storey belfry. It is the most impressive landmark in the city, while it is open to the public on most days.
As a monument to Lecce’s past, nothing is quite as impressive as the city’s Roman Amphitheatre. Although half of it is now underground, this 2nd century-building is still used for a number of open-air arts events such as concerts and religious sermons.
If going through the city centre, you’re likely to find many shops selling Lecce cake. A local delicacy, the cake is best bought from a specialist cake shop. Meanwhile, Gelateria Natale is the best place in the city to buy an authentic gelato.
Driving in the historic centre of Lecce is restricted due to a large number of streets being pedestrianized, while there are a few narrow streets.
The main thoroughfare into the city, the Strada Statale 613, is often clogged during rush hour due to workers from the nearby industrial estates.
Lecce is easy to access from the city’s main ring road, which goes around it in all directions, although part of it is underground.
The nearest airport of significance is Brindisi ‚Äì Salento Airport (Brindisi ‚Äì Aeroporto del Salento), which is around 18 miles north northwest of the city centre. It serves destinations all over Italy and the rest of Europe, with the latter mainly being during the summer months.
The SS16 from northeast Lecce will take you almost directly to the airport, going via Squinzano and Brindisi. Once near the Via Nicola Brandi, turn onto that road and keep going east.