The old centre is almost a pedestrian area, but there is some traffic which unfortunately means you have to keep alert when taking photographs. The Tourist Information office was the obvious source of a map of the area and sure enough there was the perfect map on the door and again on the counter. When I asked for a map I was told - oh we do not do those any more. Hardly the way to encourage tourists to 'the Florence of the south'. There are just so many interesting buildings and even though there are lots of very helpful signposts, a map is necessary to plan your route and get your bearings. Unfortunately we experienced prolonged rain when we went in June and our visit had to be cut short
The museum of Chinese Missionary and Natural History does not seem to be mentioned in any of the guide books, but is well worth a look for something different. Part of it is dedicated to various items brought back to Italy by missionaries working in China. The rest is a huge collection of marine and fossil samples collected by one of the Fathers over many years. It is only open 3 days a week and indicates opening hours as 9.00 to 12.00 and 4.00 to 9.00. I suggest turning up about 5.15 may save you a bit of a wait, and it will only take a couple of hours to see the lot.
In the very central St. oronzo square there are the remains of the Roman amphitheatre (= the "all-round" building that was NOT used, like a theatre, for plays, but for games.... beast, men fights and so on..).
The remains are little, because the amphitheatre is partially down, an partially still under newer buildings...
The remains are now in a central square. See the other picture for a panoramic of what else is there..
As I wrote in the main page, local cakes for breakfast have to be tasted.
To the best of my experience, the best "pasticciotto" still remains the one you can buy in the "Alvino" bar, located in the main square (Piazza S. Oronzo) of Lecce. In addition, I suggest also to try the "cornetto" in the "BAR Degli Angeli" in via Imperatore Adriano, in Lecce.
A good variety of cakes are in the "Pasticceria Citiso" in V. le Leopardi, in Lecce.
Stroll around the central streets, and see how many buildings from 16th century and on you can find... The picture is only an example, but there are lots more.
The light of the clear southern sun helps, yes, but it is so frequent.....
Lecce at its best is either at sunset or by night (to be honest I never woke up at dawn!). The photo depicts a marvellous Piazza del Duomo at night, with a magic atmosphere, at the end of summer. The monuments look so charming and the piazza so elegant.
Santa Croce (Holy Cross) is one of the best examples of the Lecce' baroque.
Many local artists took part in the building works which lasted for 150 years.
The attached Convent of the Celestines with its wonderful cloister was built between 1659-1695 and is now the seat of the Provincial Administration and the Prefecture.
The Church and the Convent were constructed by order of the Celestines.
A balcony supported by columns of male figures and animal images (partially covered for restorations in the picture) separates the first still classical order, attributed to Gabriele Riccardi, from the second one, which is typically baroque
Another jewel of this town - full of history - is the Anphiteater. Located in the Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the old theater dates back to the emperor Adrian's time. It had a capacity of 20,000 people. On the left of the picture there's the Sedile, an ancient council room (1592):
At the right cemetery the church of the Saints Nicolo's and Cataldo is another example of how ancient is the history of Lecce. Built at the end of the 12th century in Romanic style, it has been modifired lates in Baroque shapes.
That's the most famous and stunning example of 'Salentino Baroque'. This is unique in the world I would say. The impressive facade of this church is the demonstration of how soft and easy to carve is the local stone used to build the town. It reminded me the sand castles.
Piazza del Duomo is formed by buildings linked to each other without any space left. So, the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace) is the right side of the Cathedral. Built in the XV century, Its facade holds the first public clock of the town.
The weird thing about this church - the inside is marvellous - is the fact that it has two facades and that they are completely different. One is in the typical leccese Baroque - the one in the picture - and the other is more simple, resembling neoclassical style. Beautiful is indeed the bell tower - here in the picture - a five storeys one, quite peculiar too.
Probably the biggest 'closed' piazza in Italy, the Cathedral square is absolutely breathtaking. Three masterpiecec face it: the Cathedral, the Palazzo Vescovile and the Seminario. This square - that can be considered indeed the real yard of the town - was created in 1761. What strike is the shining light of the buildings hit by the sun - the white light of midday becomes a warm red at the sunset.
Baroque is not only outside: see this altar of the Church of Santa Croce.
You will find it in the laft nave of the church.
there is another similar (but not identical) in the right one.
There is also a theatrhe from roman age... This buildin (180° of a circle, was - and still is - used for play comedies and tragedies.