Puglia, Italy Puglia, Italy

24 Hours in Lecce: The Southern Jewel

Have you ever wondered what sits at the heel of Italy? While everyone flocks to the resorts around Naples and Capri, Italians have reveled in the glorious handmade food and blessed, lush nature and seashores in this part of the country for years. If you have only 24 hours to discover Lecce, this guide will help you.  

by Victoria Castelluccio

The city of Lecce is, by far, the main cultural attraction in Italy's southern region, Puglia. With its exquisite seafood, historic monuments and archaeology, unique architecture and world-renowned beaches reminiscent of the Maldives, it is easy to see why Lecce has become the go-to destination in recent years, and continues to increase in popularity.

Pasticceria Luca Capilungo

Start your day with a typical, southern style breakfast. Order a plate of fresh fruit, or a crispy croissant with a sweet cappuccino at Pasticceria Luca Capilungo - and smile. Italians enjoy a light-hearted, morning chat. With every confection one can imagine under the southern sun, you will be left spoilt for choice and may opt to purchase a tasty tart to-go for a light snack later on.

puglianewpastryPasticceria Luca Capilungo

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Continue the morning and sail into the afternoon with some cultural activities. Starting at the Old Town Centre, which begins at Porta Napoli, you can explore the churches, portals, monuments, and beautiful historical buildings. Wander in, wander out. Within this area, there is the famous Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza and Chiesa di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli. A visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce should not be missed, as it is the symbol of Lecce and the city's Baroque architecture. Take the afternoon to immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant culture that all the monuments in Lecce bring to the town. Feel how the area embraced the influences from near and far to develop itself into what it is today.

Porta NapoliPorta Napoli, Lecce

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Once the early afternoon sets in, it will be time for some well earned R&R. Puglia is home to some of Europe's most breathtaking beaches. Step foot onto the soft and golden sands, and your heart will be stolen forever. One of the most fabulous beaches is Gallipoli Beach. Several kilometers of fine sand and clear blue waters are enough to make any traveller feel they're living the 'dolce vita'. Another favourite beach to visit is Porto Cesareo. This beach is known for its shallow sea bed, which allows you to walk far out into the water right into the depths of the Meditteranean. The Santa Cesarea Terme beach is known for its rocky cliffs, and is perfect for those who love to sunbathe on big smooth rocks. Lastly, is the beached called Le Maldive del Salento. This beach has been gifted withe this charming nickname as it is said to resemble the long, sandy beaches that you might find on the exotic islands of the Maldives. All of these beaches are simply spectacular, so take time out of your day to experience them - during the day or towards the sunset when the time comes for aperitivo.

lecceeeA Beach in Lecce, Puglia

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What is a trip to the south of Italy without food? When the hunger from all the swimming and sightseeing arises - and it surely will - Alex Ristorante will be happy to oblige you. One of the best fine dining locations in Lecce, Alex Ristorante serves timeless traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, and is an exquisite address for a quick and tasty lunch. Try one of the traditional and homemade pastas, or some of the seafood, fresh from the Adriatic sea.

alexAlex Ristorante, Lecce

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If you're looking to join a tour, one of the most unique of these are the architecture tour as well as the food and wine city tour. Tours are arranged in small, intimate sizes and you will be led by a knowledgeable local guide who will show you how to explore and understand the local streets, culture, and memorable sights. The tour also goes through the Castle of Lecce and Duomo Square, so the 'classic must-sees' are covered. Once  you can stop for an aperitif in front of the Roman Ampitheater. All in all, it is quite the experience.

 bikingViews for a biking tour in Puglia

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Lastly, before you sign off the day and head back to the station, enjoy dinner and drinks in this beautiful city. Head to Ristorante Blue Notte, known for its scrumptious Mediterranean seafood. Ask for a table outside, or cuddle up to Italian hospitality and admire the original stone walls and dim lighting. This is a perfect way to end a day trip in Lecce. Now that you had a taster, be sure that one visit is never enough. With so much to explore in this part of the country, you'll have to rent a car and drive around the really discover Puglia and it will be well worth the trip.

Ristorante Blu NotteRistorante Blu Notte

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For more ideas on travelling in Italy, visit our destinations pages.

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