One day visiting Lecce in Southern Italy

Lecce’s Highlights

The highlights of our day exploring Lecce were (in no particular order):

  • Lecce’s Cathedral (best viewed around dusk)
  • Piazza Sant’Oronzo or Via Vittorio Emanuele II for people watching and the evening passigiata
  • The facade of the Palazzo dei Celestini
  • The food!!
  • The three city gates: Porta Napoli, Porta Rudiae and Porta S. Giusto
  • Wandering around the city and admiring the various churches scattered throughout
  • Strolling through the Public Gardens just outside the city walls to see some greenery after all the white and yellow stone

How we spent our day in Lecce

Arriving in Lecce the night before, we grabbed our free breakfast from Rocky Bar, located a few shops down past our B&B. There were a few sweet and savoury pastries to chose from, and without knowing it, we tried a local speciality, a Rustico Leccese, which is a pastry filled with tomato, bechamel and mozzarella. Very tasty! This was washed down with a cappuccino (of course).

We had one day for exploring Lecce and the plan was to have no plan and look for some pretty sights.  It wasn’t hard since around most corners you’ll find either a gorgeous baroque building, a huge porta (an entrance into the old town) or a beautiful church or palazzo.

Gelato time!

To gather our energy, we had to have a gelato from Alvino (highly recommended, as is the pasticciotto). We enjoyed our gelato in the nearby Piazza Sant’Oronzo.

Eating a Gelato near Piazza Sant'Oronzo in Lecce
Gelato break sitting near Piazza Sant’Oronzo

Where are all the supermarkets?

After a quick look at the nearby Roman Theatre, we spent a few hours wandering around looking for a supermarket. I’m not sure why, but it was surprisingly difficult. We only found one after we spotted a family near a church carrying a plastic bag with what looked like groceries. I asked them where they managed to find a grocery store, and we found out they were a family from Ottawa. Being Canadian we had to have a chat! They directed us to the ‘hidden’ grocery store that was outside of the old town. No wonder we couldn’t find it! It was near Porta San Biagio across a busy street.

Lecce’s gates

At Porta Napoli, we saw a couple having their wedding photos taken, complete with a vintage car in the foreground. Molto Italiano! There are two other gates worth seeing. Why not collect all three?!

A couple having wedding photos taken at the grandiose Porta Napoli
I can think of worse places to have your wedding photos taken than Porta Napoli

The evening passigiata

After a couple hours for a siesta, we headed out for the evening passigiata along Via Vittorio Emanuele II. Lecce at night felt like a completely different city than Lecce during a Monday afternoon. There were so many people walking the passigiata, I wondered where they had been during the day! Wanting to continue with some people watching, we sat near a group of six old men having their evening beer, sitting on their plastic fold up chairs sitting next to the Piazza Sant’Oronzo.

Time for an aperativo and dinner

Deciding to take in the passigiata while drinking a wine, we had a drink at All’Ombra del Barocco. Ready to try some Pugliese cuisine, we wandered around for close to an hour, and finally found a lovely little restaurant called Trattoria Il Rifugio della Buona Stella.

We had two local specialities for dinner. The Ciceri e tria (chickpeas with a mix of fried and boiled pasta) and Maccheroncini con tocchetti di pesce spada, cime di rape e pomodori (homemade pasta with swordfish, turnip tops and tomatoes). While the English translations may not sound very appetizing, the food was so good! I highly recommend the restaurant for their rustic, homemade dishes and lovely service.

An after dinner stroll through Lecce made for an excellent end to our first full day in Puglia.

Here are some of the photos from our day in Lecce. 

Close up view of the Church of San Matteo
The Church of San Matteo
Lecce's Roman Theatre
Roman Theatre
Entrance to the Palazzo dei Celestini
Palazzo dei Celestini – walk through the courtyard to find some greenery on the other side
The bell tower of the Lecce Cathedral at dusk
Lecce Cathedral at dusk
Statues of the Lecce Cathedral
Lecce Cathedral
Piazza Del Duomo at dusk
Piazza Del Duomo at dusk
Piazza Del Duomo
Piazza Del Duomo
Facade of the Church of Santa Chiara
Church of Santa Chiara
Bicycle on a Lecce side street
Why are bicycles so pretty in Italy?

Accommodation

We stayed two nights at the B&B Le Comari Salentine, located about 500m from the train station. For my review, click here.

Next stop, Otranto and the Salento!

We spent a day in Lecce in early October 2016 at the start of a nine day trip in the region. After Lecce, we visited Otranto and the Salento, the Trulli region including Alberobello and Locorotondo, the seaside Polignano a Mare ending in Matera

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