If you’re a wanderluster and a solo traveller, your adventurous soul will bring you there. If you are eager to explore the unknown and unplanned places, you will be encouraged to visit this town. Even if you haven’t made your plans to pay a visit to it before the start of your travel and if you only hear about it from the owner of your B&B, you will immediately begin planning this trip. It really happened to me when I was in Puglia.
I remember the owner of the B&B which I had booked in Bari, picked me up from the airport. On our way to the town we were talking about my plans for the one week I would spend in the region. I shared my intention to visit the nearby tourist places of interests like Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Matera in Basilicata, Bari and so on. He interrupted me all of sudden and said to me: “Why don’t you go to Lecce. It’s an amazing baroque town, not that far away from Bari. There are numerous trains going there and it’s worth visiting, indeed”. Immediately after I heard it, it was already on my Bucket List. 🙂 So, after some brief research on my mobile I found the train schedules and headed off to ….
L E C C E
Stopping at the railway station in Lecce I didn’t even know the way to the historic centre. Like anywhere in Italy, people are very polite and kind and are always ready to give directions. So, after a short talk with two policemen in Italian-English, I was told to go sempre dritto (straight on) and that il centro storico (the historic centre) was about a 10-minute walk from the station, al terzo semaforo (at the third semaphore/traffic lights). 😀 After these brief and clear explanations, I started my visit in the town.
Lecce is the main town of the province bearing the same name in the Region of Apulia. It rises in the central-northern parts of the Salentine Plain or more precisely in the sub-region of Puglia – il Tavoliere – which comprises the three provinces: Brindisi, Lecce and Tàranto.
The town of Lecce is supposed to have origins dating back to the 5th century BC. The proof for that is the discovery of bas-reliefs from this epoch. Sybar was the first name of the town while the name of Lupiae was given to it later. The town encountered an economic development as well as there was a focus on constructions under the Roman dominion. After the fall of the Roman Empire the town marked a decline and was more vulnerable because of the great number of invasions of the Longobards in Italy. The Normans conquered the territory around 1000 and Lecce started flourishing again. The culmination as a cultural and artistic town was under the reign of the Spaniards.
The economy of the town is a point of reference when it comes to the Salentine economy which is one the most dynamic of Southern Italy. Speaking about the most developed sectors, I ought to mention agriculture, artisanship, agribusiness and tourism as well as tobacco industry.
Local cuisine is among the attractions of the town because it really has numerous gastronomic local leccese specialties. You know that, principally, the Italians indulge in food and wine, beautiful women and la dolce vita. I will say some things about local dishes only. As to the rest three elements mentioned above, either they have already been reviewed in this or that way or they will be discussed in my further posts. 🙂 Allora … If you’re in Lecce and you are hungry like an wolf, find a nice trattoria or osteria somewhere in the small alleys and order “i ciceri e tria” plus “le orecchiette al sugo alla ricotta forte”, then continue with “i pezzetti di cavallo al sugo”, “i turcinieddhi ” and “la scapece”. Finally, if you are still alive and can breath, you can end your food fiesta with “il pasticciotto leccese”.
Of course, Lecce isn’t only cuisine but also Baroque architecture and rich history. Every tourist tour of the town should include places of interest like il Duomo di Lecce (the main Cathedral of the town) and the square in front, la Basilica di Santa Croce and la Chiesa di San Matteo.
A must is the historic centre of Lecce where I was astonished to see this amazing combination of architectural styles and ancient ruins at one and the same place, at one and the same time. As a lover of ancient history, I did fall in love with the Roman Theatre at first sight and the surrounding ancient ruins. Just amazing. 🙂