Historic Lecce is a beautiful baroque town; it's a glorious architectural confection of palaces and churches intricately sculpted from the soft local sandstone. It is a city full of surprises: one minute you are perusing sleek designer fashions from Milan, the next you are faced with a church – dizzyingly decorated with asparagus column tops, decorative dodos and cavorting gremlins. Swooning 18th-century traveller Thomas Ashe thought it 'the most beautiful city in Italy', but the less-impressed Marchese Grimaldi said the facade of Santa Croce made him think a lunatic was having a nightmare.
Either way, it's a lively, graceful but relaxed university town packed with upmarket boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and bars. Both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas are within easy access and it's a great base from which to explore the Salento.
Lecce destination guides
Cycle in Puglia, the sun-soaked heel of Italy, through vineyards, olive groves and unspoiled villages
Private Tour: Lecce City Sightseeing Including Basilica di Santa Croce
Discover the highlights of Lecce on a private walking tour with an expert guide. Known as the ‘Florence of the South,’ Lecce is full of beautiful Baroque churches, palaces and squares, and you’ll see plenty of them on a leisurely 4-hour walk in either the morning or afternoon.