What to see in Lecce?
The city of Lecce is a charming Baroque relic in the heart of Salento, in the Apulia Region. In addition to being very close to the most beautiful beaches in Salento, Lecce is known not only for the Baroque, but also for the papier-mâché, for the typical stone of the city, for the culinary specialties and for the many wonderful churches. Come with me to get to know this beautiful city. What to see in Lecce? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
We have just said that Lecce is the supreme baroque city of Apulia; for this reason, it is called “Lady of Baroque”, mainly due to the type of architecture of the historic center. In addition to the Baroque style, the history is another characteristic of it, which is actually unique and provides an adorable charm. Such credit is due to its enormous artistic-cultural heritage, or perhaps by history, lost in the mists of time, which this city expresses like no other age, full of exclusivity and details. The flashy decoration engraved on the buildings’ claddings takes on the intense colors of the typical Lecce stone: warm and golden tones, it is a solid yet flexible limestone – which facilitates the work with the gouge. Read also, Car itinerary in the Apulia Region? and What are the 10 must-see places in Apulia?
Learn a little bit of Baroque Art and its Historic Center
Baroque art was disseminated in Lecce in the 17th century, during Spanish rule, replacing classical art, creating a style that opened space for fantasy and imagination. The historic center is full of examples of stone work and is also one of the must-see places. The historic center of Lecce is large and magnificent, its alleys are very interesting. The city is formed by the winding streets scattered among the Baroque buildings (with decorated balconies and backyards full of flowers) and dozens of churches that appear out of nowhere. Get to know in this other post a little about the History of Papier Mârché!
1) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE HISTORICAL CENTER
The historic center was made to tour on foot and with the head up, to be surprised by all these buildings built with the typical stone of the city. Let yourself be conquered by this avalanche of flashy decorations in floral motifs, coat of arms and mythological figures, where the Spanish artistic influence and the local stone (white and shiny) came together to create this artistic form, known as Baroque of Lecce. In addition to the historic center, there are at least three places you can’t miss when visiting the city: the Basilica of the Holy Cross, the Roman Amphitheater and the Cathedral Square. There are several other things to see, but these three are the most important.
2) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE BASILICA OF HOLY CROSS
Let us start with the Basilica of Holy Cross, one of the largest architectural complexes in the city and the most characteristic example of the local baroque, above all for the wealth of details on the main facade, with a rose window and a terrace decorated with caryatids. Inside, it has a Renaissance pattern. From the Basilica of Holy Cross, we take Via Umberto I and Via Templari to reach the Piazza Sant’Oronzo: the heart of the city.
3) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE SAINT ORONTIUS SQUARE
The Piazza Sant’Oronzo (“St Orontius Square”) is the main room of Lecce and has always been the meeting point of the city. Shops, cafeterias and offices fill the spectacular oval square whose floor is decorated by the city’s coat of arms made of mosaic: a she-wolf under a tree with a crown of five towers. The buildings that make up the square, built between the medieval period and the 19th century, create a heterogeneous architectural harmony, the result of different styles that coexist in a balanced way. Formerly, it was known as the “Square of the Traders”, due to the large presence of markets and commercial activities, which later disappeared to make room for the building that would be the headquarters of the Bank of Italy.
Since 1656, the square has been named in honor of the city’s patron saint. They say that, during the plague epidemic that spread in the Kingdom of Naples, the city of Lecce was unharmed thanks to the mediation of Orontius, the city’s former bishop. Thus, as a sign of devotion and thanksgiving, the people had a 29-meter column built in the square, on which was placed the statue of the saint blessing the city. The Obelisk of St Orontius is just one of the many attractions of the square, which is largely occupied by the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater.
4) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE AMPHITEATER
Some workers discovered the amphitheater in the early 20th century during the construction of the Bank of Italy building. It was all covered, underneath the city, so much so that even today it is not 100% visible. The amphitheater is the most important sign of the Roman period of Lupias, the ancient name of Lecce.
5) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE LECCE SQUARE AND CATHEDRAL
From St Orontius Square, we continue towards Via Vittorio Emanuele II for about 400 meters to access the Cathedral Square. This square is characteristic for being closed; that is, there is only one entrance, the other three sides are completely obstructed by buildings. In the Cathedral Square, in addition to the church with two facades, we also see the Episcopal Palace and the Seminary. The square is the heart of the old city of Lecce. The Cathedral of Lecce represents the basis of local religious life. The church, dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption, was built in 1144, with two facades (simple and different, but very decorated) and the bell tower. In this square there is also the Episcopal Palace (from the Renaissance period, with sumptuous arches) and the Seminary (characteristic not only for the convent, but also for the tile facade).
Map 01 – Attractions in Lecce
Other Lecce Churches
A while ago, Lecce was considered the “city of churches”, both for the quantity and the beauty of its sacred buildings. In addition to the Cathedral and the Basilica of the Holy Cross, there are a multitude of other churches, there are around forty, scattered throughout the city. Among the oldest ones, we can mention the Church of St Nicholas and Saint Cataldus, in the cemetery of the city. Built in medieval times in 1180 at the request of Tancredo de Altavila (last king of the Normans), it was then renovated in 1716, acquiring the Baroque mark, but the elements of its original style were preserved.
6) What to see in Lecce? VISIT THE CHURCH OF SAINT MATTHEW
Among the most original, I cannot fail to mention the Church of St Matthew, from 1667-1700, with its unique curvilinear façade. Another church worthy of recognition is that of St Irene, located right in the center of the city; the saint was the patron saint of Lecce until the year 1656. The walk through the city cannot end without first taking a walk through the alleys to explore the delicious corners and squares. Maybe even stop to taste the delicious typical dishes of Lecce, or maybe a good glass of primitive wine from Salento.
Map 02 – Attractions in Lecce
How to get to Lecce?
1) How to get to Lecce? BY AIRPLANE
As it is located on the coast of Italy, it is easy to reach Lecce throughout the territory of the boot. It is very accessible both by train and by plane. As it does not have an airport (the only Apulian city), it uses the neighboring airport of Bríndisi, about 40 km from Lecce, therefore well connected to all major Italian airports.
Also read our Special Posts on Airports in Italy:
- HOW TO GO FROM THE ROME AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF ROME?
- HOW TO GO FROM THE MALPENSA AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF MILANO?
- HOW TO GO FROM VENICE AIRPORT TO VENICE CENTER
2) How to get to Lecce? BY TRAIN
Countless trains from various Italian cities arrive at Lecce station. The Salentine capital is the terminal of the Adriatic route that comes from Milan or Turin and passes through Bologna, Pescara and Bari. There are also many connections through Rome, with Eurostar trains, but also with buses.
Did you know that Trenitalia is the main Italian company dedicated to the management of railway transport? Also find out “What is the difference between trains in Italy?”. Would you like to save? So buy your ticket online in advance and save a lot, read the Post “How to buy a train ticket in Italy?“.
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What to see in Lecce? Lecce is not only known for its baroque style, but also as a hospitable, organized city, with great cuisine and a sensational sea that is very close – without a doubt, an unmissable stop for anyone visiting Italy. And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip, do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.
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