The outermost south-eastern part of the Italian boot-shaped outline is named Salento
The call of the salt and the sea is immediately associated with the name itself and could not be different. Salento, in fact, extends along 200 km of coastline facing both the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea where the so-called Italy’s heel and the region Apulia
ends, lengthening towards Greece. Anyway, Greek nearness alone does not explain why Lecce
, the main town of Salento, was given the nickname "Athens of Apulia"
. When baroque style began to spread in Italy in the 15th century, it was influenced by local elements.
For about three hundred years baroque in the area of Lecce developed in its own way with original decorations and architecture to the point that a typical style named "barocco leccese" clearly marks the town.
Moreover, Romanesque influences and a the use of a yellow ochre colored ductile limestone created spectacular effects in decorations of churches, palaces, monuments and terraces. The town centre is characterized by a maze of white narrow streets with buildings and small terraces adorned with typical baroque elements inspired to human figures, flowers, birds and fruit .
Small courtyards and beautiful squares suddenly appear along the way.
The spectacular Dome Square
is the most impressive architectural complex of Lecce and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Both private and public spaces combine with each other creating a harmonious effect, where the magnificent minor façade of the Cathedral triumphs over the whole group of buildings.
The present aspect of the Dome
is due to the complete reconstruction made by Giuseppe Zimbalo also known as Zingarello between 1659 and 1670. Inside, some large paintings, the golden lacunar ceiling and a stony crib of the 15th century placed at one of twelve altars can be admired.
On the eastern side of the square the bell tower rises to more than 70 m and the Bishop’s residence named Episcopio with a beautiful arcade completes the harmonious view.
Lecce is scattered with over thirty churches, but one of them is considered to be the most beautiful basilica of Apulia.
Thanks to the latest restoration work ended in 1990 the church of Santa Croce
shows its beauty made of rich baroque decorations, which continue inside with sumptuous altars and columns. Santa Croce marked the beginning of Apulian baroque style and at its side the former Celestine convent is another beautiful baroque building. Through its cloister it is possible to reach the so-called villa, which is considered Lecce’s park.
Another important square is Piazza Sant’Oronzo
which is situated not so far from the Dome. The Roman amphitheatre, Sant’Oronzo’s seat and Column
are situated in the central square, somehow dedicated to the patron saint of Lecce,who rid the town of plague.
Next to Sant’Oronzo’s square the Castle of Carlo V
is worth a visit. It was built in 1539 and is beautifully adorned with refined capitals and columns. Entrance to the castle is free.
and Porta Napoli
are portals through which it is possible to reach different parts of Lecce and adjacent roads.
In addition to buses and taxis, bike sharing may be a way to visit the town, since Lecce have both urban and suburban bike tracks. Moreover, a funny opportunity to visit the town centre from Apr.15th to Oct. 15th can be taken on board of a small train leaving every hour from the Castle Carlo V, from 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Train ticket can be bought on board or at any other indicated points.
Multilingual guided tours both to town and the most popular destinations outside Lecce are available, too.
In the northern area of Lecce, the City Terminal offers a shuttle service to Brindisi airport, which can be reached in about 40 minutes.
A parking area for campers and a number of direct buses to every Salento destinations are also available at the terminal.