A local’s manual to Lecce, Italy: baroque beauty and rural delicacies | Italy vacations

Food items

Lecce is renowned for its cucina povera – it virtually indicates “poor cuisine”, but refers to the tasty home cooking of rural people who make the most of seasonal, nearby create. We are fortuitous to have wonderful refreshing greens – so dining out can be a vegetarian’s paradise – alongside with seafood immediate from the Ionian Sea. For an straightforward trattoria experience, you cannot defeat Alle because of Corti, in which Signora Rosalba cooks unforgettable dishes these types of as ciceri e tria’, crunchy fried tagliatelle with chickpeas, polpette di melanzane, fried aubergine balls with mint and basil, a hearty fava bean soup with chicory, and the local favorite, orecchiette con cime di rapa – pasta “ears” with turnip greens and anchovies.

For a modern day acquire on conventional recipes, try out Arte dei Sapori – think about a entire sea bass cooked in clay – while La Scarpetta’s intimate yard is the excellent location to try out spaghetti topped with creamy sea urchin. Inventory up on community specialities at Porta Rudiae’s coated marketplace: it’s good for caciocavallo cheese, spicy salsiccia and taralli biscuits.


Every person talks about Should, our new avant garde art centre, but I uncover the aged-fashioned Museo Sigismondo Castromediano inspiring. It’s devoted to the archaeology of Lecce, which dates back to the Magna Graecia (Greek colonial) interval, from the eighth to the fifth century BC. It is usually quiet and tranquil, hardly ever frequented by vacationers.

I like Caffè Alvino, in which I frequently meet up with other winemakers. It is reverse the outdated Bar della Borsa, the “wine exchange” bar (now sadly replaced by a McDonald’s), so referred to as simply because each and every 7 days winemakers satisfied there to make a decision the rate of the bulk wine that Puglia exported all above Europe. My papà employed to acquire me. These days the area helps make excellent bottled wine rather than bulk, so discussions are now a lot more about local weather transform and natural vineyards.


The historic centre isn’t really divided into neighbourhoods, and to really expertise the city this is the place you have to aim. Check out the small location encircled by our city gates on foot, beginning at the 500-yr-old Porta Napoli. You wander via time, from the ruined Roman amphitheatre, along lanes lined with baroque palaces and mansions, and emerge opposite the Basilica di Santa Croce, whose facade took a century to sculpt. Then there is the breathtaking Piazza Duomo, dominated by its 17th-century cathedral, or the seemingly quiet Piazza Sant’Oronzo, honouring Lecce’s patron saint. This is the actual city centre. It comes alive from 24-26 August, when we rejoice Sant’Oronzo with a competition of lights, audio and street foodstuff that no nearby at any time misses.

Piazza Sant’Oronzo.
Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Photograph: Salvator Barki/Getty Photographs

Green house

In between its tight mass of baroque structures, Lecce has 3 critical central green spaces: the lush grounds and tropical yuccas, cacti and palm trees of the Villa Reale the sprawling Parco Belloluogo, recently renovated and ideal for outdoor sports and the formal Giuseppe Garibaldi gardens, with their ancient sculptures and fountains. Do not pass up Pasticceria Natale, just outdoors the Garibaldi gardens – it’s the perfect position to check out a pasticciotto leccese, a small pastry pie filled with ricotta or egg custard, with caffè alla salentina, an iced espresso with almond milk. For a great bicycle journey exterior the city, head east to San Cataldo on the Adriatic. The route takes you past splendid 18th-century villas that were being at the time summer time residences for Lecce’s nobility.


Lecce appears to be peaceful during the working day but will come alive at night time, with very small squares and courtyards packed with cafe and bar terraces. Amongst Piazzetta Santa Chiara and Piazzetta Sigismondo Castromediano, there is avenue meals, craft beer and cocktails, even though 250 neighborhood wines are on the checklist at Mamma Elvira: from bubbly and rosé to much more complex negroamaro and primitivo reds.


Palazzo Rollo (doubles from €110 B&B) is in a baroque mansion with a roof backyard, suitable by the cathedral.

Massimiliano Apollonio is a fifth-generation winemaker at 150-year-aged Apollonio vineyard. His household give an award in Lecce each yr to artists who boost Puglian tradition