Finally my new project: “Around Puglia” has started this week! How exciting!!
If you haven’t read what is “Around Puglia Project”, please read this first→ “Around Puglia Project”
Anyhow, if you already know what is this project about and if you are still reading this post, you must be one of the Puglia lovers or you have a bucket list to visit Puglia in the near future or years later.
Here, my project started with Lecce as I said.
I caught a train from Barletta station to Lecce directly in the afternoon. It was about 2 hours ride to Lecce, and it costs about 9-10Euro if you are lucky!
From Lecce station, you need to walk about 15 minutes, always straight to the historical city centre.
(Little bit of) History
Lecce was once called “Lupiae”, which is a tree, symbol of Lecce. Before people started planning Olive trees around the city, Lecce was surrounded by Lupiae trees. Though they didn’t make a lot of fruits like Olive trees, people planted Olive trees in the past. If you go to Sant’Oronzo plaza in the city centre, you can still see the Lupiae tree on the pavement with the mosaic art.
Lecce has more than 2000 years of history, a lot before Roman came. It was the land of Messapians tribes. People from current Crete came to Puglia as the first settler. Before going to the history of Lecce, Puglia had Messapians in south, Daunians in north (foggia area) and Peucetians in middle (Murgia, Bari area).
Romans came to Lecce around 2nd century. Brindisi, the nearest port from Lecce is the last point of “Via Appia”. Famous longest street that the Romans made.
Lecce has Roman amphitheatre, currently underground estimated-30,000Hector-huge Roman terme, also foro Romano (Roman forum). You see, Lecce was one of the most important city in the Roman world!
Lecce is also full of Baroque arts, and that is why it’s called “Firenze in South”.
Most famous “Barocco Leccese” architecture is, Basilicata di Santa Croce.
Though currently they are fixing its facade, and apparently it takes at least few years. If you go to the left side of basilicata, you see a screen. Over there you can make a booking to see the facade from close by！
Please also take a close look on the top circle window. There are many pomegranates, many angels, grapes and somehow lotus flowers. Apparently that is called Lecce Baroque style. In fact, if you enter the basilicata, you will see the same things 🙂
Here is the Duomo of Lecce, with their city Saint patron, Sant’Oronzo in the middle.
Lecce also had a part of Hebrew area in the historical centre, which is actually next to Basilicata di Santa Croce. If you want to know more about the history, you can visit Palazzo Taurino next to the Basilicata, which was the synagogue.
Where and what to eat
Once you arrived at Lecce, you need to try these things:
You should definitely try a coffee with almond milk (Caffè Leccese) and pasticciotto Leccese!
If you have no time to sit and eat, you can try Rustico Leccese. It’s a savoury pie with beciamella sauce with tomatoes and mozzarella!
If you have a chance to sit and eat at Lecce, try these restaurants which are recommended by my Leccese friend!
- Trattoria Nonna Tetti: Piazzetta Regina Maria, 17
- Dall’antiquario:Via Ludovico Maremonti 3, Piazzetta Santa Chiara
- La torre di merlino: Via Giambattista del Tufo 10
- La trattoria le zie: Via Colonnello Archimede Costadura 19
- L’osteria degli spiriti : Via Cesare Battisti 4, 73100, Lecce, Italy
I firstly went to Trattoria Nonna Tetti but it was fully booked so I went to Dall’antiquario for dinner, and I tried negroamaro (Typical red wine from Salento area) and “Taieddhra” which is the dish with potato, rice and zucchini cooked in oven.
Service was bit slot but that is Puglia. Instead I really enjoyed conversation with the family who owns this restaurant!
If you want to try the pasticciotto I said before, try Bar Alvino at Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Get in early or no pasticciotto!
My friend also suggested best Gelateria in town. It’s not in historical centre, but it’s not that far. Please try Baldieri at Piazza Mazzini! The best gelato in Lecce!
If you are wine lover, try Mamma Elvira at Via Umberto I 19!
Lecce is the city of “Cartapesta”.
They use a paper or pulp to create the dolls for religious motives and as well as an art. Most famous festivals that cartapesta works for is Carnivals! Have you seen it?!
If you would like a tour in Lecce, Info point at Piazza Sant’Oronzo can organise it in Italian and English for 10Euro/person.
Otherwise you can go to Infotab which I asked for a night tour. Also 10Euro/person in Italian and English. If you want to see Hebrew museum, another 3Euro for entrance!
Lecce is a wonderful city. I have visited many times but every time I fell in love more deeply. It has the history, arts, culture, food and kind people! So..COME TO VISIT US! 🙂
Need a help to organise your trip in Puglia? Reservation at restaurant or booking a tour guide? Contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org! 🙂