In common with many towns of Southern Puglia, Lecce was founded by the Messapian civilisation prior to Roman encroachments. During the Greek-Trojan war it was referred to as Sybar, but received the name of Lupiae after its capture by Rome.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire resulted in the usual merry-go round of sovereignty by various kingdoms & factions from the Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans and Aragonese under King Charles V to the Bourbons (and others) until incorporated in 1861 into the unified country of Italy.
The stunning and elegant city of Lecce is frequently named “The Florence of the South”, but, having a grace and style all of its own, the unique architecture of la Barocco Leccesse ensues there is no such thing as a “Lecce of the North”… as the city actually has no comparable.
One of the most important cities of Southern Italy in the 15th century, Lecce owes its superb style to the citizenry who enriched it from 1630 until after the Renaissance with its fabulously ornate Old Town and its centre.
Saint Oronzo was the citys first Christian bishop and has the distinction today of being the city’s Patron Saint. In the Piazza Santo Oronzo his statue stands upon the column that once marked in Brindisi, the end of the ancient Roman road of the Via Appia.
Close by the column, even after 2,000 years, an excavated Roman Amphitheatre still entertains people with summer music festivals, and at Christmas, nativity scenes displaying life size depictions of the village of Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. The Piazza del Duomo, with its Cathedral originally built in 1144 and with the adjoining 70 metre tall bell tower is one of Italys most significant. The totally stunning inside and out, Chiesa di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross) with its famous Rose window ranks as one of the most intricately carved and fabulously ornate in all Europe.
The gateways of the Porta Rudiae, Porta San Biagio, and the Triumphant Arch (Porta Napoli) are works of art in themselves. Still guarding the entrances to the Old Town, they were set into the defensive walls, built in the early 1500’s by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to encircle the city to discourage an attack and its subsequent capture by the Saracens.
Lecce today is a vibrant city, pulsating with life. The New Town – a chic shopping mecca, with extensive markets and parks. The Old Town – in the day, a walk amongst a wonderland of architecture and riotous embellishment. In the evening, a stroll through a labyrinth of streets, with the honey coloured stone edifices warmly lit by subtle illuminations. Soft lighting reflects off the smooth flagged passageways and streets, as every corner turned yields amazing new sights..
Young and old, the Leccesse take to the evening streets to stroll around, perusing late opening shops, ice cream parlours and cafes. Trattoria and Osteria by the dozen with candle-lit street tables cater for late diners, the peaceful and courteous passer bys create an atmosphere that never fades in the memory.
Just 20 minutes from either of our beautiful Villas, for a holiday highpoint prepare to be awed in Lecce.
- Michaelangelos restaurant, (Puglian cuisine) Hotel Tiziano, – right of the roundabout entering Lecce.
- Ristorante Alle due Corti (Local specialities) – 1, Corte dei Giugno
- Trattoria Nonna Tetti (Puglian cuisine) – 17, Piazzetta Regina Maria