Dubbed the “Florence of the South” for its sumptuous 17th-century architecture, Lecce is the most beguiling city on Puglia’s Salento peninsula. Its historic center is a treasure trove of baroque gems and artisan workshops, as well as a food lover’s paradise. Here’s how to experience this feast for the eyes and palate in one day.
Morning: Barocco Leccese
Lecce’s lavish architectural style, featuring magnificent facades carved from local pietra leccese stone, is so distinctive that it has its own label: Barocco Leccese, or Lecce baroque. Begin your visit of this jewel-like city with a guided tour through the old town (centro storico) to appreciate highlights such as the Basilica di Santa Croce, cathedral (duomo) and its Piazza del Duomo, and Church of Santa Chiara. Most walking, bike, and rickshaw tours also take in the impressive ruins of the city’s Roman amphitheater in Piazza Sant'Oronzo and the traditional shops along the winding lanes of the centro storico.
Afternoon: Stone and Paper
After the morning spent exploring the heights of the Barocco Leccese, turn your attention in the afternoon to the humble yet equally captivating local artisan traditions. Tour Lecce’s storied workshops with a guide as part of a shopping tour to take a deep dive into their history and techniques, or join a hands-on workshop to learn the secrets of stone carving or papier-mâché, two of the most important local handicrafts.
Night: Food and Wine
Salento is known for its excellent cuisine, and no visit to the peninsula is complete without sampling its classic dishes and remarkable wines. Join a food tour in Lecce to nibble unique street foods such as rustico leccese (puff pastry filled with tomatoes and mozzarella), pasticciotto (filled pastry), and taralli (olive-oil crackers) and sip wines produced in the surrounding countryside. True gourmands can pair a walking tour with a full dinner featuring the city’s most beloved dishes, or learn how to make them at home with a cooking class led by a local chef or home cook, followed by a celebratory meal to sample the recipes you’ve prepared together.