Where to stay in Lecce
For many years I used to book groups for a client in Lecce but never visited. Last summer well I could not avoid the trip, as we were very close by and very curious about why clients from as far as Australia were coming every year to Lecce. So I decided to take a look
It took some convincing for the husband to get out of the hammock, but I packed our bags and booked a couple of nights at the very central and very beautiful Patria Palace Hotel As this is where my clients were staying year after year, it was quite logical to start discovering Lecce from here.
The hotel is right in the middle of the historical centre, please make sure to use all your senses if you are driving. Your Sat Nav could land you right in the middle of the pedestrian zone and with an expensive fine, that’s what we did and we were lucky to encounter a couple of very friendly carabinieri!
First thing you notice is the most beautiful golden light of the city. As most building and monuments were constructed with Lecce Stone, a yellow limestone which is one of the main city exports, when the sun is out everything seems to be glowing under a golden yellow light. The city is known as the ‘Florence of the South’ but this really doesn’t do it any justice, for this is a city with its own most enchanting baroque character and beauty. A good place to start your stroll is at the Basilica di Santa Croce, situated a few meters away from the hotel. With this building you start appreciating the rich and amazing baroque style of the entire city, just looking at the elaborated façade will take plenty of time.
From there you can head towards Piazza Duomo by Piazza San Oronzo and Via Vittorio Emanuele II, were you will be right at the heart of the city. Plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes if you want a little break or appetitivo. Another monument to visit is the Teatro Romano, an open Roman theatre and if you are lucky enough you can catch a concert as many events take place during the summer months. A very unique museum is not far from there, the Museo Faggiano. This is a bulding that never intended to be a museum, it was the family home of Mr Luciano Faggiano. In 2000 he wanted to renovate the building as he intended to open a trattoria but he encountered some troubles with the toilet. As he was looking to fix the sewage pipe he started to uncover a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus. He is a very funny character and you can read more about his story at this link http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/world/europe/centuries-of-italian-history-are-unearthed-in-quest-to-fix-toilet.html?_r=0 (Museo Faggiano, Via Ascanio Grandi, 56/58, tlf +39-0832-300528 )
Most surprisingly it was to discover an array of fashionable clothes and jewellery designers continuing Italy’s rich design tradition, so not everything in Italy comes from China after all! A couple of shops worth visiting are Sartoria Artigianale Atika where it’s quite common to find the designer Mr Antonio Franco at his desk planning his original designs (Via Francesco Rubichi, 13, Lecce +39 0832 308428 http://www.atikasartoria.it/ ) If jewels are your thing then make sure to visit Maria Paola Barrotta at her studio in Via Arcivescovo Petronelli, 12 (http://www.mariapaolabarrotta.com/
Where to Eat
Food, well as with every time I visit a new place I think it’s the best in Italy! Orecchiete pasta, Burrata Pugliese (a very soft cheese similar to mozzarella) fish and Primitivo wine are a must when you are here. A couple of restaurants to recommend: near the Duomo you will find Corte dei Pandolfi Restaurant, situated in a lovely little square with outside tables ( Corte dei Pandolfi, 3 http://cortedeipandolfi.com/ ) and if fish is what you fancy then head to Pescheria con cottura near Piazza San Oronso, here you can choose your fish and they will cook it for you ( Via de Mocenigo, 23 Telf +39-0832-098366 http://www.pescheriaconcottura.it/ )
For more info on Lecce or Puglia check the website http://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it/hp/en