From beautiful Baroque buildings to a fabled food and wine scene, Lecce is one of Italy’s most enchanting provinces. Known as the “Heel of Italy”, it’s perched on the Salento Peninsula between the Adriatic coast and the Ionian Sea. Stroll around the postcard-perfect capital, tour the Squinzano winemaking region and visit a clifftop spa town.
Things to do in Lecce
Magnificent Baroque buildings occupy every corner of Lecce, the enchanting provincial capital. Many were designed by famous 17th-century architects and feature ornate cherubs, gargoyles and twisted columns. Browse upscale boutiques along Via Trinchese and dine at some of the best restaurants in Puglia.
Surrounded by lush Mediterranean pine forests, Alimini Grande and Alimini Piccolo are local wildlife sanctuaries. Both are havens for migratory birds, including flamingos, wild geese and storks.
Gallipoli is perched on an Ionian Sea peninsula and combines historic charm with urban appeal. The Old Town occupies a tiny island and is dotted with Baroque gems like St. Agatha’s Cathedral. Imposing Gallipoli Castle overlooks the marina and moonlights as a venue for cultural events.
Whether you’re craving perfectly al dente pasta or flaky pastries, Lecce will tantalise your palate. Enjoy rich Lecce-style baked lasagna, “sagne ncannulate” ribbon pasta and “pittule” pancakes served with cherry tomatoes, capers and olives. For dessert, indulge in “pasticciotto” pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese and egg custard.
The tiny town of Squinzano is nestled among rolling vineyards and is an official DOC wine region. The town is an excellent base for visiting surrounding estates and sampling the full-bodied reds made from Negro Amaro grapes.
Fed by natural springs, the spas of Santa Cesarea Terme are renowned for therapeutic properties. The town is perched on a cliffside overlooking the Adriatic Sea and offers a variety of thermal spas, as well as upscale cafes, bistros and boutiques.
Getting around Lecce
Rental cars are a flexible way to explore the Province of Lecce at your own pace. Trains run between Lecce and Naples in around five hours, and you’ll also find stations in smaller towns like Zollino and Gallipoli. Naples International Airport is a four-hour drive away.