Five top attractions in Lecce

A complete and detailed guide to the five best attractions in Lecce.

Lecce is a historic town in the South Italy region of Apulia and is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula in the “heel” of Italy. It is well regarded for its architecture and is locally known as the “Florence of the Baroque”. Many of the city buildings are embellished with flamboyant decorations, and the historic centre is full of examples of equisite stonemasonry, making this the ideal Italy holiday destination for those interested in Italian architecture.


Best Attractions in Lecce’s Historic Centre

The Baroque art that characterises the spiers, portals, churches and monuments of Lecce cannot be missed on your Apulia holiday. The city has diverse attractions to enjoy, from divine architecture to Roman ruins. If you’re visiting Apulia as part of an Italy twin-centre holiday, here are five of the best things to do and see in Lecce.


Roman Amphitheatre


To take a step back in time while on your Lecce holiday, visit the historic Roman Amphitheatre near Piazza Sant'Oronzo, which dates back to the 2nd century. Over the years, the structure has suffered due to earthquakes, but careful excavations have brought the site to life. Archaeologists have also been able to rescue several interesting sculptures, including a statue of the goddess Athena, which can be admired at the Castromediano Museum on Viale Gallipoli.

Today, the Amphitheatre is the setting for theatrical performances and concerts in Lecce.


Castle of Charles V (Castello di Lecce)

Near Piazza Sant'Oronzo stands Lecce’s castle, which sits on the site of the former Chapel of the Holy Trinity and the Celestino Monastery of Santa Croce. It was commissioned by King Charles V in 1539 and designed by Gian Giacomo dell'Acaya.

Today, the castle is the seat of the Department of Culture and its rooms are used for cultural events, art exhibitions and eno-gastronomic events.


Piazza Sant'Oronzo


Piazza Sant'Oronzo is Lecce’s main square and is full of shops and cafes, making this square a great place to stop and enjoy an Italian espresso.

The square has an oval design and the pavement is adorned with a mosaic depicting the emblem of the city: a she-wolf under a holm oak tree and a crown with five towers. The buildings that surround the square date from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, and the best ones to admire include:

  • the column of Sant'Oronzo (dedicated to the city’s patron saint Saint Orontius)
  • Palazzo del Seggio (1592), which hosts art exhibitions
  • the ancient Church of San Marco, which has a distinct Venetian style
  • the Church of Santa Maria della Grazia, dating back to 1590, which has some lovely frescoes


Lecce Cathedral

The Cathedral of Lecce is dedicated to Maria SS. Assunta and was built in 1144. Over the years, it has been restored and reconstructed, with some of the work being carried out by Italian architect and sculptor Giuseppe Zimbalo.

The Cathedral includes a five-storied bell tower surmounted by an octagonal dome on which there is an iron statue representing Saint Orontius. On the main façade are the delightful statues of the saints Gennaro and Ludovico, and the apostles Peter and Paul. Meanwhile, inside you will find a Baroque interior with priceless stuccoes, marble floors and paintings of great artistic value, as well as 12 richly decorated altars.


Basilica of Santa Croce


The Basilica of Santa Croce with the adjacent Convent of the Celestines (now Palazzo del Governo) is one of the major architectural complexes of Lecce and, above all, the most significant example of Lecce Baroque.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the greatest architects of Salento (Riccardi, Penna and Zimbalo) designed this magnificent church, assisted by skilled stonemasons. The result was surprising: never before had Renaissance elements and Baroque sophistication melted so harmoniously, giving life to a monument of such spectacular beauty.


Visit Lecce in 2018

If you want to immerse yourself in Italian Baroque and explore Lecce on a personalised Italy twin-centre holiday, call us locally on 01223 637331 to find out more about our customised travel-planning service. We specialise in travel to Italy and can create a unique and personalised Italy twin-centre holiday specific to your requirements. As a part of your package, we can take care of:

  • Return flights (from your choice of airport)
  • Private airport transfers
  • Accommodation (in Lecce or a nearby resort)
  • Day tours, including private Lecce city tours
  • “Skip the line” entry to popular attractions
  • Restaurant reservations
  • Car hire

To find our more, call us on 01223 637331 or click here to send us your dream holiday requirements and we will get back to you with a personalised quote within 24 hours.

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