The passeggiata, or evening stroll, is a big thing in all Italian towns of course, but that doesn't mean that some cities don't put on a better show than others. Lecce, in summertime at least, has a particularly impressive passeggiata.
Firstly, the city itself makes an awesome backdrop for this tradition: the churches and peeling palazzi are lovely enough in the day, but at night they are artfully lit up and make a real impact. People congregate in the most picturesque squares, visitors taking in the sights, locals socialising, everyone relaxing.
Then there are the sheer numbers. Locals come out in force when the sun goes down, while it's still easily warm enough to eat pizza and ice cream outside. People walking, talking, shopping, watching street entertainers. If you enjoy people-watching, it doesn't get much better than this, as all ages are out.
You can do almost anything you can during the day until quite late in the evening as shops and restaurants are open until late. But the atmosphere is very different as the city literally comes to life.
Dress Code: Try to make an effort - the leccesi do!
I can't give you a website for this place - or a photo. But I do assure you there is an Irish Pub called James Joyce (no idea why - i don't think he ever got this far south) right in the centre of town.
We had dinner here one night - very agreeable - and as I am a night owl I stayed on for a nightcap or two - as the other guests wandered off to their beds.
It did close early. Midnight. Pub culture isn't huge in Italy. The passegiata is huge but not pubs - and then as I was walking home I noticed a few cafes/bars were full of lively people.
Of course I did strike the sad bloke who struck up a conversation with me because his life had become a misery to him. Raised in New York - his parents inherited property here in Lecce so he returned. He had had a bad car accident - many scars on his face - and his Italian born wife had just left him. I won't tell the sad sad story about what he said she had done - but it was truly frightful. I was almost in tears.
Whatever the ins and outs of it he was very very sad and appreciated speaking in english - his most comfortable language.
Then of course I had to shake him off. And as I was very busy the next day couldn't meet him for coffee. And as I didn't have a cellulare at that stage couldn't even swap numbers. (Thank goodness.)
Anyway there is a pub in the town if you need a bit of pub. It won't feel quite like a pub - but you might meet some interesting people.
He was a nice guy.
The cavestone by which the most of the buildings, either ancient and modern are built of, which is known as "pietra leccese" assumes a marvellous pink-yellow light as soon the sun goes down. Walking through the pedestrian center after the sunset gives a very impressive view of the town, so "soft" and worm at the sametime.
Do not forget to visit the Duomo Square at night. It's a gorgeous view which will leave you breathless. If you enter Porta Rudiae, after 200 metres you will find the Duomo Square on your right side, quite hidded until it reveals in all its magnificency.