The walls have protected Lecce's historic centre for centuries. They are tall, well preserved, and custodians of one of the richest historical and artistic heritages in the world.
The only way to see the old part of the city is by walking through it. If you stroll through the narrow streets of the centre, you can see the cool architecture from a bygone era. In this case, it's from the seventeenth century, and has a distinctive Baroque style. It's overflowing with decorations, curls and frills that are skilfully carved into the other element that marks the face of the city: Lecce stone (leccisu, in local dialect).
The white stone of Lecce is so soft and crumbly that it almost seems to crumble in the wind and in the sun. It's actually resisted for over five hundred years, only changing its colour according to the light that hits it.
Embroidered in stone are the monuments, churches and palaces of the city and various villages in the province. They shine with a clear light during the day, and in the evening they take on a golden colour.
Lecce is not only a treasure trove of art and beauty, but also a lively and dynamic city all year round. This is especially true in the summer - starting with the breakfast ritual at the pastry shop all the way to lunchtime (or at least until the heat of the day kicks in). It is at that moment that Lecce empties, but only temporarily: activities stop, people hole up in their houses or go to the beach. Everything outside remains motionless, enveloped in a dazzling light reflected and amplified by the glow of the stone.
So until the late afternoon, when the historic centre is once again populated with people enjoying the bars and clubs, the shops and galleries open their doors, while in open-air squares and courtyards, in the churches and symbolic places of the city, art and beauty, nightlife and entertainment are again the protagonists.
Palazzo de Noha is small and clean, with every comfort you could want--including a small pool on the terrace with a bar. It's perfect for watching the sunset and listening to the birds.
The panoramic point of Lecce is a great place to get an unprecedented, unique view of Lecce and the Salento from its tallest building, the bell tower of the Cathedral. Thanks to the elevator, visitors can go to the third level of the ancient tower, where four balconies offer a 360-degree view of the city and the Adriatic Sea up to the Albanian coast.
The Artwork team offers those unfamiliar with the beauties of Lecce the opportunity to discover them in an unprecedented way.
And, once again, guaranteeing the best use of the sites included in the circuit through a single ticket and with prolonged opening hours.
Palazzo Vernazza, one of the oldest noble palaces in Lecce, which guards millenary ruins, has been hosting an unusual visit itinerary enriched by technologies. The project, called Visit Palazzo Vernazza from the 14th century to 4.0, was developed by the staff of the University of Salento, who did the excavation and the studies.
It takes the visitor along a physical and digital path. With a tablet in hand, you move between the different rooms of the building, accompanied by audiovisual narrations, 3D reconstructions and experiences in virtual and augmented reality (palazzovernazza.it/english/).
Palazzo Luce, right next to the Roman amphitheatre in the centre of Lecce, is the aesthetic testament of collector Anna Maria Enselmi. The Palazzo dei Conti - which was the home of Maria D'Enghien, who became Queen of Naples after her second marriage - has now been turned into a museum and art gallery.
It houses many contemporary art and design pieces. The Palazzo's medieval origins make it stand out from the rest of the Baroque city--one more reason to visit Lecce outside the usual routes.
Via Umberto I is one of the most romantic streets in Lecce. The Lecce paper-mache shops are located there, where master craftsmen work day and night assembling the paper-mache.
If you walk around the ancient artisan shops, you'll find hidden treasures, like the Bottega della Cartapesta in the heart of Lecce. There, you can watch Santino Merico create masterpieces like sacred statues, restorations, and other objects in his own laboratory. He's been doing this since 1982. Another big name in the city centre is Mario Di Donfrancesco, head of the La Bottega dell'Arte laboratory for restoring sacred statues and paper-mache. They're specialised in restoration.
After visiting the shops in the alleys, you can go to the Cartapesta Museum inside the Charles V Castle. It contains works from every era by hundreds of artists.
The Monastery of San Giovanni Evangelista is a must-stop for foodies: for centuries, the nuns have been preparing exquisite almond paste sweets in the shape of fish and lamb, according to an ancient eighteenth-century recipe, filled with faldacchiera, a cream made from egg yolks and sugar cooked in a double boiler (email@example.com).
Div.Ergo, a company that strives to help young people with disabilities enter the workforce, sells unique "souvenirs". Daf Design tells the story of Salento and the Mediterranean through colourful accessories. While F360's vintage research is not just about clothing--it becomes a lifestyle, always on the hunt for memorabilia from past decades
There are many easy day trips from Lecce that allow you to explore some of the Salento's most beautiful hamlets, such as Nardo', Specchia, Galatina, Gallipoli, and Otranto. These make for fantastic days out by the sea.
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