LivingTravelLecce Travel Guide

Lecce Travel Guide

Lecce, Italy, sometimes called the Florence of the South , is the main city on the Salento peninsula in southern Puglia, and one of the best places to visit in Puglia. Due to the smooth limestone that is easy to work with, Lecce became the center of ornate architecture called Leccese de Barocco and the city is full of Baroque monuments. Lecce’s historic center is compact, making it a great place to walk, and its restaurants offer hearty, fine, typical Puglia food. Traditional handicrafts are also notable, especially the art of papier-mâché. ‘

What to see in Lecce:

  • Piazza del Duomo , or Cathedral Square, is a beautiful square with ornate buildings. Here you will find the Duomo di Maria Santissima Assunta or the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, originally built in 1144 and completely restored in 1659-70 when the 70-meter-high bell tower was added. The Episcopal Palace and the Seminary, two Baroque monuments, are also located in the square.
  • Via Vittorio Emanuele is the main street lined with shops and cafes that runs between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Along the street, you will find the tourist information office and the Church of San Giovanni Battista.
  • The Roman amphitheater was built in the 2nd century AD and once held 25,000 spectators. The amphitheater is partially excavated, but monuments have been built over most of it. You will see the remains near Plaza Sant’Oronzo, where there is a Roman column surmounted by a copper statue of Saint Oronzo, the city’s patron saint.
  • The Church of Santa Chiara , famous for its ceiling with papier-mâché decorations, is located a short distance from the amphitheater.
  • Archaeological Museum , open only in the mornings from Monday to Friday, and remains of a Roman theater, discovered in 1929, that once housed 6,000 spectators are behind Santa Chiara.
  • The Basilica of Santa Croce , in Via Umberto I, has a richly decorated façade and is considered the emblem of the city. Next to the church is the Palazzo Celestini, a former monastery that is now a government building. Behind are the municipal gardens.
  • The castle of Carlos V was built in the 16th century and was the royal residence. Next door is the Opera.
  • The Provincial Museum , on Viale Gallipoli, houses important finds from the city and the region.

Greek salento

A few kilometers south of Lecce is Grecia Salentina, a group of cities with beautiful historic centers where a Greek dialect is still used. Some of these cities can be reached by train.

Beaches near Lecce

Although Lecce is some distance inland from the coast, this sunny corner of Italy longs for a pretty sandy beach in summer. The closest beach is at San Cataldo, about 20 minutes east of Lecce. Even prettier are the beaches of Frigole and Spiaggiabella, a little further north on the coast. Like most beaches in Italy, they offer a mix of stables, or beach establishments with loungers and umbrellas for rent, as well as free-access areas where you need to bring your own umbrellas and chairs.


Lecce Location and weather

Lecce is located on the Salento peninsula, the heel of the boot, in the Puglia region of southern Italy. The weather is fairly mild, although it can be very hot in the summer and colder than you might expect in the winter – see Lecce Weather and Climate for average monthly temperatures and rainfall.

Where to stay in Lecce

Hotels and B & Bs in Lecce are plentiful and relatively cheap compared to other Italian cities. These are our favorite picks for staying in Lecce:

  • Risorgimento Resort
  • Grand Hotel of Lecce
  • Ancient Villa La Viola
  • The Garden Of Daisies

Arriving in Lecce

Lecce is the terminus of the railway line that runs along the east coast of Italy. A direct Frecciargento train from Rome reaches Lecce in 5 hours 20 minutes. It is half an hour to 40 minutes from Brindisi. The Ferrovie Sud Est serves small towns on the peninsula and has a station in Lecce so you can reach many places in the area by train. (see Puglia train timetable map) From the train station, it is a short walk to the historic center.

The closest airports are in Brindisi and Bari.


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