Lecce in 48 hours
The home of Baroque to explore in a weekend: everything you should see.
20 July 2022
Start your tour from Porta Rudiae, one of the four gates to the historical center of the city. Before entering, stop and admire it in all its grandeur. This is the oldest gate to Lecce and the busts of the city’s founders stand on its columns while at the very top it is possible to admire the statue of St. Oronzo, highly revered figure in Salento.
Leave behind Porta Rudiae and enter the historical center. Reach Piazza del Duomo just a few minutes walk away and be surprised by the beauty of the Cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta and the Bell Tower. The white of the Lecce stones, the baroque soul of the cathedral and the whole square are a really wonderful sight. We recommend you visit it at sunset: the light at that time of the day is truly special and the atmosphere magical. Here you are: this is the perfect spot for your first selfie of the day.
Continue with a tour of the Convitto Palmieri, enter its courtyard and cloisters and admire the beauty of the Church of San Francesco della Scarpa also known as the church without a facade because it is set inside the Convitto. If you love books, pay a visit to the Bernardini Library, one of the largest in Apulia.
As lunchtime approaches, you will be spoiled for choice: in the squares and along the alleys you will find many restaurants where you can enjoy Mediterranean dishes both in a revisited version and in the traditional flavors. We recommend you to try the traditional dishes of this land, belonging to the ancient peasant world and for this reason made of simple yet tasty ingredients such as "ciceri e tria" in the local slang meaning pasta and chickpeas. It is a dish made with long fresh pasta seasoned with chickpeas and "frizzuli", small pieces of fried pasta which add a crunchy note. A creamy, intensely flavored dish.
Lecce is a city to visit at a slow pace. In the afternoon, we invite you to take time to breathe in its character, history and discover curiosities. Walking through the historic center, reach the Church of Sant'Irene dei Teatini, a Lecce Baroque treasure made of precious altars and rich decorations, dedicated to the saint who was the patron saint of the city until 1656. Continue your aimless walk through the streets, stores and artisan workshops of wrought iron, papier-mâché, terracotta and white Lecce stone await you. You're sure to find great ideas for a souvenir to take home.
You can't say you've visited Lecce without visiting the Basilica of the Holy Cross and the Convento dei Celestini: they are the highest expression of Lecce Baroque and a must-see in this weekend of exploration. Bas-reliefs, stone sculptures, floral friezes and the large carved rose window make the Basilica of the Holy Cross a spectacular example of rich, refined and elegant forms. The adjacent Convento dei Padri Celestini can be toured in part and it is another wonderful symbol of Baroque style in Lecce. Today it is the seat of the Prefecture.
At the end of the day, if you are looking for a place to have an aperitif or a dinner with local products and enjoy the positive energy that only nightlife can give you, go to Porta San Biagio and Piazzetta Santa Chiara, they are very popular meeting places, with plenty of restaurants, clubs and pubs.
After having had breakfast with a pasticciotto, a delicious local sweet made of shortcrust pastry and filled with custard, the first stop of the day is the Roman Theatre. We advise you to reach it on foot entering from Porta San Biagio, another gate to the historical center of the city. Hidden among the buildings of Lecce, and not far from the main squares, the Roman Theatre is a small jewel that hosted tragedies and comedies. Sit on its steps and breathe the atmosphere of ancient Rome!
Continue your tour to discover the city and head for Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the main square and a must-see location this weekend. The symbol of Lecce's thousand-year history, it is the heart of city life. Here you can admire the Roman Amphitheater and the 29 meter high column of Sant'Oronzo.
After a quick lunch, you can tour the Castle of Charles V, in Viale XXV Luglio, a castle dating back to the Sixteenth century with its beautiful rooms and gardens. Today, it is the cultural center of Lecce and it hosts exhibitions, cultural and artistic events. Book a guided tour!
This special weekend is almost drawing to a close and you may be tempted by the idea of an afternoon dedicated to shopping. We recommend a stroll to admire the stores and boutiques that overlook Piazza Mazzini and Via Trinchese, the shopping area par excellence in the city.
Wrap up these wonderful 48 hours with a dinner and a nighttime visit to Piazza del Duomo. When lit up at night, it bestows a charming and surreal atmosphere to the city.