What to Do and See in Lecce, Italy – A complete Weekend Guide

A weekend guide to Lecce Italy
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Hey there! Thanks for stopping by for our weekend guide to Lecce, Italy. The locals call Lecce “the beautiful Florence of Southern Italy.” Even the New York Times is in love with Lecce. After living in Italy for a year, we had to take a weekend and check it out what to do and see in Lecce, Italy.

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

What to Do and See in Lecce, Italy –

A Complete Guide for the Weekend

 


Where to stay in Lecce

First things first – we had to find a place to sleep!
I always look for a few things when booking rooms. One – whether we use our car, or rent a car; we always look for free parking. Compare car rental prices here. 
Another thing I really like is a kitchen, or kitchenette, in the unit. I love to have coffee in my pajamas in the morning and have something in the fridge to feed the kids. Free WiFi is also a must, and I always look for unique places, great reviews, and a close walking distance to the main sights we came to see.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide
We stayed at B&B Vianny. The property was in a perfect location – walking distance to the city center and a great location to explore the surrounding area. The owners were fantastic, friendly, helpful, and even left us a bottle of wine and local pastries to try! The room itself was clean, organized, and immediately felt like home.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide
I loved having the kitchen to make coffee in the morning, and the pastry to have breakfast in the room, while planning our day! They thought of everything! I cannot say enough good things! Mamma Mia, did we hit the jackpot! Compare prices of Hotels Here.
So, here we go with your guide on what to do and see in Lecce, Italy. 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

The town of Lecce

Lecce has two parts – the new, modern part, which is filled with beautiful modern buildings, shopping and restaurants, and the old historic center. Both areas of Lecce have wonderful things to do and see, so make sure you get to both parts.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Walking Lecce

First, we wandered through the new, modern part of town, so see all New Lecce had to offer. Then, we made our way to the historic center.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy

 What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Castle of Charles V, Lecce

The castle is also known as the Castello di Lecce. It was first built in the Middle Ages and updated to prepare for attack in 1539. It looks like a giant fortress sitting right inside the city. Hmmm… I guess that is what it is, actually!
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide
The castle has some cool history and a legend told by many of the local people. Luckily, we had brushed up on our Italian with our Pimsleur Italian course so we could understand the locals! They say that the Orsini family, who owned the castle in the 14th century, was so worried about protection and keeping their family safe, that they captured and kept a giant white bear in the moat for protection! So, check for bears while wandering around.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Porta Rudiae City Gate, Lecce

This gate dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and is one of three city gates remaining in Lecce. This gate is located near old town and was the original entrance into the historic center. It is also the most decorated of all the city gates. Saint Oronzo, the saint of the city of Lecce, is perched on top of the gate. The people of Lecce believe he still protects the town and its people.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Piazza Sant’Oronzo, old town Lecce

 
This beautiful square sits right in the middle of old town and is full of shops, cafes, and, of course, the amphitheater and the Column of St. Oronzo. The square was once a small village and gathering place for ancient Lecce. Now, it is still a hub of socialization and loaded with small local shops. The best thing to do here is wander, have a pastry and cup of coffee or a glass of wine – hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Read our article on dining out in Italy if you need some tips.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 

Roman Amphitheater  of Lecce 

A must see is the amphitheater of Lecce. It is in the Piazza Sant’ Oronzo, a beautiful site in the center of Lecce. When in use, the amphitheater was able to seat more than 25,000 people. It was discovered when the town was excavating to build new shops. During the excavation, they found the ruins of the ancient center. Over half of the ancient complex is still buried under the square, but you do get nice view of the old amphitheater and seats.

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 

Column of St. Oronzo    

The column is about 29 meters high and is also located in Piazza Sant’Oronzo (directly to the right of the amphitheater.) The base of the column was once the original marker of the end of Appian Way, the main road between Rome and Southern Italy. It was given to the town of Lecce, by the people of Brindisi. The people of Brindisi thought that Saint Oronzo spoke to the gods on their behalf and saved the townspeople from the plague. So, the gift of the column was their show of gratitude.

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Lecce Cathedral

 Lecce Cathedral was originally built in 1144.  In 1659, the residing bishop, Luigi Pappacoda, ordered a restoration. It was completely restored between 1659-70, which is when the addition of a five-story bell tower and octagonal dome at the top were built as well. The 70 meter (five-story) bell tower helped turn it into one of Italy’s most important and visited cathedrals. Bishop Luigi Pappacoda’s remains are still kept at the altar in the cathedral. It’s gorgeous inside, so stop by to take a look.
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 Basilica di Santa Croce of Lecce

This gorgeous basilica was built in its current location in 1549. The church was built on the site of a massacre of Jewish families by the Ottoman Turks invasion in 1480. The construction of this church went on for over two centuries! The lower portion of the church was completed in 1582, and the dome was finally finished in 1590.

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 

The entire church is decorated with ornate figurines and gorgeous circular and arched windows. Inside and out you will find amazing attention to detail as well. Do not miss this while in Lecce!

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Porta San Biagio 

This is the second of the three gates in Lecce. Porto San Biagio is the southernmost gateway to the ancient city center. It is located near Piazza Italy. The sculpture at the top is of Bishop St. Blaise, in bishop robes, and the gate over this port is over 17 meters high. This is actually the second gate built here; this one was built to replace the original gate in 1744.

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Villa Comunale

In The center of Lecce, Italy is this HUGE park.  It is a gorgeous place for a walk or to just sit in the shade and people watch. The park is full of small alters, buildings, fountains, hundreds of different types of flowers and trees, and a great area for the kids to play! We honestly just happened to stumble upon this park while we were wandering through the city streets of Lecce.

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 

The park was originally built as a royal garden and only for members of the royal family. It was only open to the public on very special holidays; however, in 1869 the park was opened to the general public for everyone to enjoy.

 

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Church of Santa Maria

This big round church looks like something built for ancient gods and reminds me a bit of the Pantheon in Rome, and does not really fit into the other churches in Lecce, Italy. It’s a huge round church, with a large-domed top, and was built in the 17th century. It sits right next to Porta Napoli. So, if you walk by, peek inside and walk around, and marvel at how did thy build that dome?
What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Porta Napoli 

This is Lecce’s version of France’s Arc de Triomphe. This gate is the third and final gate leading to the ancient city of Lecce. It was named “the Gate of Napoli” because this was the beginning of the road that led to Naples. The gate was built in 1548 in honor of Charles V, and, as most gates, for defense of the city. When we first saw it I thought, “Porta? Oh, must be a port…” but in Italy it means a gate or entry.
 What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

Obelisk of Lecce

The Obelisk is just down the road past the gate of Napoli. You can see it from the entrance of the gate. It was built in 1822. It has four different motifs, one of the most important being the dolphin biting the Turkish flag crescent to symbolize the beating of the Turks and driving them from Lecce. There is a rumor that it once had color on it but the color was washed away with the first heavy rain.

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

What else can we help you with Lecce, Italy?

What to do and see in Lecce, Italy - A Complete Weekend Guide

 Want to know What to Eat while in Lecce? Check our guide to food in Puglia.  We also have some other amazing places to see in the area. Check out our guides to Matera, and Alberobello.

Fights to Lecce

To get to Lecce, the closest airports are in Bari or Brindisi. Check here to Compare Prices for and the best flight options.

Tours In Lecce

My personal recommendations for my two favorite tours are the Lecce and Gallipoli wine tour and a walking tour of Lecce with a taste of the delicious pasticciotto at a local bakery!  

Compare Tours here

Rental Car in Lecce

Renting a car is fantastic way to see the area on your own time and in your own way.  If you want to rent a car and see the many towns in the area, compare car rental prices here. 


CarRental8 - Best Prices Guaranteed

I hope you enjoy Lecce, Italy, as much as we did. Do you have any questions or do you think I left something out? If so, please leave us a comment below!

If you want to learn about our life as professional basketball family click here to read our Story! 

– Stacey
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27 Comments

  • […] you are traveling in the area of Puglia, make sure you check out our other local posts on Matera, Lecce, and the Foods of Puglia!  Have you been? Did I forget anything that is a must-see sight? Do you […]
  • Reply March 23, 2017

    jarrod

    Wow Lecce looks so nice! I've been all over Italy, but never to here! Amazing!
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Emma

    Aww, we went to Puglia last summer but never made it to Lecce - looks like we missed out big tie - the old town and architecture are beautiful - guess it's just an excuse to go back! Emma recently posted...Chocolate Banana Muffins with PecansMy Profile
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Jetsetter Jenn

    I love when cities have that mix between the modern and the old. It makes for some great photographs! I enjoy the contrast. Thanks for putting gorgeous Lecce on my radar :) Lovely photos. Jetsetter Jenn recently posted...How to Spend 48 Hours in Trinidad, CubaMy Profile
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Echo

    Italy is so beautiful as a whole, but I had never heard of Leece! Of course, it is totally on my trip list now! What an amazing place! Echo recently posted...Exploring and Shelling in Fort Myers Beach, Florida!My Profile
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Manuel

    Such a lovely place! Thanks for the share.
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    mike

    Puglia Italy looks lovely! I think I would love to go explore for a weekend. The buildings all look so cool, especially Basilica di Santa Croce!
  • I just let out the biggest 'Wow!' in a cafe as I looked at the photos from Lecce Cathedral! Wow indeed - what a magnificent piece of architecture! You are so fortunate to have been able to spend a year in Italy - a country I am yet to visit even though I have been wanting to go for years! But living on the other side of the world does make it a little tricky to get to...What a fascinating place! Great guide.
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Sandy N Vyjay

    What grabbed my eye first was Basilica di Santa Croce. It looked splendid. The more I observed it, the more I was intrigues. The columns and the piazza look magnificent. The Obelisk is just stunning! Sandy N Vyjay recently posted...Tata Tigor – Experience Drive and First ImpressionsMy Profile
  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Kim Lee

    Oh my goodness, what a beautiful place! You're so lucky to have visited... Italy is definitely on my travel bucket list!
  • I've traveled through Italy extensively but have yet to visit Lecce! I love staying in B&B's and this one looks so lovely. All great suggestions, definitely bookmarking for the future :) Carmen's Luxury Trvl (@carmensluxtrvl) recently posted...Top Things to Do in Ronda, SpainMy Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Jodie Whitham

    I've been to Rome, Venice and Florence. Florence was my favourite so liked the description of Lecce being the florence of southern italy. I want to see more of the country. I love how lovely it seems - the food, culture and architecture. There is something i can't describe that is so great. Lovely post x
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Milijana

    Few years ago I have seen some photos of Lecce and fell immediately in love with it. I love the Baroque architecture. The Basilica di Santa Croce looks gorgeous. I didn’t know it was built on the site of a massacre of Jewish families. So sad! Milijana recently posted...Viennese coffee houses and diningMy Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Milijana

    Few years ago I have seen some photos of Lecce and fell immediately in love with it. I love the Baroque architecture. The Cathedral looks gorgeous. I didn't know it was built on the site of Jewish family. So sad! Milijana recently posted...Viennese coffee houses and diningMy Profile
  • I hadn't heard of Lecce but it seems like an interesting place to check out. I like the story behind the Column of St. Oronzo, and as a history buff I would love to see the point that marked the terminus of the Appian Way. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke) recently posted...Country no. 44 on my World Karaoke Tour: this year in Jerusalem!My Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Nancy

    I am planning to visit Puglia and will add Lecce to my itinerary. It looks like a beautiful spot. I enjoy visiting amphitheaters with my kids and the one in the Piazza Sant’ Oronzo sounds interesting - it would be a cool perspective with part of it still covered.
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Kavey at Kavey Eats

    Lecce looks so beautiful, loving the architecture, really beautiful. You look for similar things to me from your accommodation, everything from parking and location to wifi to kitchenette facilities. Love the look of your b&b choice.
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Greg

    Do you have any recommendations for places/areas to stay long term? (3-12 months) Greg recently posted...We Moved Back to MexicoMy Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Scott

    We visited Italy once many years ago. Never visited Lecce, but now wish we had! Time to go back! Scott recently posted...1754: Conquest Board Game OverviewMy Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Christopher

    Italy never ceases to amaze me. The country is amazing, so much history, such great food Lecche it seems is no different. I will have to add it to my list of cities to visit when I return to Italy again.
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Nathan

    I've never heard of Lecce but now I want to visit! It's beautiful, especially the cathedral. It's so grand. Nathan recently posted...The 9 Best Meals I Had In IcelandMy Profile
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Anne Slater-Brooks

    This part of Italy is stunning. We visited on a trip a few years back where we hired a huge farmhouse if in the hills. It was remote with only a small pizzeria nearby that served the best bruschetta and prosecco for a mere pittance. Gorgeous
  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Debra Schroeder

    Love that night shot of Lecce. The B&B looks wonderful and the room is huge! OMG, could you imagine cruising around the castle and coming face to face with a white bear? Thanks for the wonderful visual tour. I’m totally inspired to visit and see it for myself.
  • […] Do you need information on what to see and where to stay? Check out our article on a weekend in Lecce, Italy. […]
  • Reply March 19, 2017

    Sara

    I've never heard of Lecce before but it sounds like it's got such a rich culture! I haven't visited Italy in a while and it was only a school trip, would be nice to go back...
  • Reply March 19, 2017

    Danik

    Wow, I never seen photos of Lecce before, I know where it is on the map as they used to have a top football team in Serie A! Now I want to go here...great post :) Danik recently posted...Would You Kiss the Blarney Stone?My Profile
  • Reply March 19, 2017

    Megan Jerrard

    Wow so much cultural heritage and incredible historic architecture - love! I've explored a lot of Italy but haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Lecce - B&B Vianny looks like a great choice, we also look for free parking and a kitchen / kitchenette when we travel - we like to visit local grocery stores and cook for ourselves :)

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