Lecce is a riot of cherubs; the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy. Sometimes described as the ‘Florence of the Baroque’ or the ‘Rome of the South’, Lecce is really the only city destination in mainland Italy south of Naples which is appealing enough to attract large numbers of tourists. It lies in the region of Puglia, down at the heel of Italy’s boot, surrounded by attractive countryside, seashore and small towns. The town is easy to reach by budget flights from the UK, and makes a good destination for a weekend break or a touring holiday.
Lecce’s history goes back a long way – you can still see ruins of a Roman theatre and amphitheatre – but the period which led to town’s current fame was the 17th century. A period of prosperity led to grand developments and the wholesale construction of palaces and churches. These buildings adapted the fashionable Baroque style to the soft local stone, with decorations and cherubs extravagantly covering facades and doorways. This local style is known as barocco Leccese (‘Lecce Baroque’).
Lecce is sometimes described as having a beach, though the town lies several miles from the sea. The beach in question is a stretch of Adriatic coast at San Cataldo, with bus connections from the town centre.