Mmm Dulce de Lecce. I couldn’t resist this pun. But Lecce really is the sweetest little city in Puglia. South from Bari, it’s not a coastal city but nevertheless is a delight to visit throughout the Summer or in quieter months. The perfect place to take in a hit of culture and then enjoy a long languid Italian lunch. Pair both with good company and even better wine. This is why you must visit Lecce!
Why is Lecce famous?
Lecce is a small city in Southern Italy, in the Puglia region. It is located at the very south, on the heel of the Italian pennisula. It is famous as a history city, thought to be over two thousand years old. Known for it’s Baroque architecture, including the famous cathedral, as well as for two Roman amphitheaters. Lecce is a popular tourist city, often used as a base to explore the beaches in the surrounding area.
Is Lecce worth visiting?
Lecce is definitely worth visiting. There’s more than enough sightseeing to fill a day trip or even a weekend. Lecce is relatively small but dense with historical buildings. It is the type of city that you can arrive in without a plan. In fact, I think it’s better to meander with the precise aim of getting lost.
Things to do when visiting Lecce
Visit the Roman Amphitheaters
There are two Roman amphitheaters in Lecce. One of which can be seen from Piaza San Oronzo. You can even sit in a cafe that overlooks it. The other, larger of the two, requires a ticket when you’re visiting Lecce.
Visit churches and cathedrals
There are multiple Churches and Cathedrals in Lecce. All are different in look and built at different times throughout history. The most beautiful (in my humble opinion) is Basilica di Santa Croce, which is breathtakingly ornate. I was surprised to learn that most of the big churches and cathedrals in Lecce require tickets. You can also book a tour which includes access to all if you do want to see them in one day.
Visit a museum in Lecce
There are well over 10 Museums in Lecce, including The Jewish Museum of Lecce, a railway museum and a couple displaying art.
If you’d prefer a more active historical adventure, you can take a Jewish history walking tour of the city. This is a really informative tour, where you will learn about the history of Lecce and visit important Jewish sights.
What to eat and drink in Lecce?
The main event however, is definitely eating and drinking. For which, there are plenty of opportunities in Lecce.
Despite being a sister city of Bari, I’d say the cuisine in Lecce is fairly different. Rarely will you find Orichette pasta on menus in Lecce (the typical pasta shape that is to be found all around Bari Vecchia). This is because Lecce is in the Salento district, which has different food traditions and specialties.
There are a number of restaurants around Lecce in which you can try the regional food and drink. Try the Pasta with Chickpeas (a Lecce specialty) at any of the local trattorias. It has an interesting texture as the pasta is partially fried.
I was a little baffled to see so much Horsemeat on menus throughout Lecce. Upon further research I’ve learnt that Italy has a long history with this meat, and consume the highest amount in all of Europe. If you want to try it, I’ve read good reviews about Osteria Da Angiulino which serves it as a specialty. This menu has reasonably priced wine and a cosy indoor dining room. There are other options on the menu too.
I opted for a delightful bistro called Moro. Set in a narrow cobbled street, the menu has seafood and meat options. I was pleased with my choice of the lasagne (another local speciality) as it was creamy and delicious! Lunch for two with a bottle of ice cold Chardonnay was 41 Euro.
Lecce’s most famous gastronomic indulgence is the Pastaciotto. These are sweet little pastries, thick crust, filled with a custard cream. They’re similar to a Pastel de Nata (which can be found around Lisbon), but with a less eggy flavour. The Pastaciotto are found at Patisseries around Lecce and in most coffee shops. Try one with an espresso or a cafe granita (iced coffee!) A must have when visiting Lecce.
How to travel to visit Lecce
Lecce is located towards the South East of Puglia. From Brindisi it is less than an hour on the train. From Bari, it will take you 1 hour and 45 minutes. If you stay in Lecce, it can make a good base from which to explore Puglia further. You can get to Otranto or San Cataldo fairly swiftly. Or try Poligano a Mare which is further up the coast towards Bari.
Where next on your Italy adventures?
- Polignano a Mare or Monopoli
- Visiting Matera – Sassi and Spritz
- A guide to visiting Puglia
- Bari street food guide
- How to visit Bari on different budgets
- Are the seaside towns of Bari worth visiting
Most of our planning is done using other blogs, but you can’t beat a guide book at the bottom of your case.
Find them here on Amazon.
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