The cultural and geographical heart of Puglia’s Salento Peninsula, Lecce is home to the region’s finest architecture and perfectly located to explore other highlights both inland and on the coast with ease. Here’s how to take in the best of the city and surrounding peninsula in just two days.
Day 1: The Capital of Salento
Morning: Start the day by taking in Lecce’s magnificent 17th-century baroque churches and palaces with a walking, bike, or rickshaw tour through the historic center. Marvel at the ornate facades of the cathedral (duomo), Basilica di Santa Croce, and Church of Santa Chiara, as well as the ruins of the Roman amphitheater in Piazza Sant'Oronzo.
Afternoon: Dedicate the afternoon to exploring the captivating artisan workshops that are a cornerstone of Lecce’s culture. Join a shopping tour to meet the city’s craftspeople, or opt for a practical workshop to hone your skills at traditional stone carving or papier-mâché with a master teacher at a storied atelier.
Night: The three pillars of Lecce’s unique spirit are its architecture, artisans, and cuisine. Explore the last with a food tour highlighting the city’s street foods and local wines or a walking tour paired with a traditional dinner. Another foodie option is a cooking class with a local instructor followed by a festive meal.
Day 2: Striking Out in Salento
Morning: Now that you’ve savored Lecce, spend your second day exploring the Salento Peninsula. Head just north to the Itria Valley, home to some of the most captivating small towns in Puglia. Tour the gnome-like trulli cottages in Alberobello and the postcard-perfect hill towns of Polignano a Mare and Cisternino.
Afternoon: Gourmands can deepen their knowledge of local Negroamaro and Primitivo wines, as well as other gastronomic delights, with a wine-and-food tour in the countryside just beyond Lecce’s city limits. Visit small wineries for tastings and lunch featuring specialties from nearby olive-oil mills, farms, and other local producers.
Night: Lecce may be set inland, but Puglia is primarily a coastal region. Enjoy its pretty coastline and crystalline waters with a jaunt to the historic fishing village of Otranto. Take a peek at its cathedral, Church of St. Peter, and Aragonese Castle, and then relax on the beach as the sun goes down.