If you’re planning a trip to the Puglia region in Italy, otherwise known as the heel of Italy, you can’t miss visiting Lecce! This vibrant city showcases remarkable Baroque architecture, incredible Roman sites and attractions, delicious food options, captivating history, and so much more. Keep reading to check out what sightseeing I did in Lecce, Italy, in this beautiful photo diary.
Psst, this post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.
On my last trip to Puglia, Lecce was hands down one of my favorite cities we visited. That said, before we stepped foot into Lecce, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being the biggest city on the Salento peninsula, I didn’t think I’d really enjoy it, as I’m not much of a city person and prefer more off-the-beaten-path destinations that aren’t packed with tourists.
However, I couldn’t have been more wrong about how I’d feel about Lecce. Within just a few minutes of strolling through its quaint streets and exploring the historic sites, I completely fell head over heels for Lecce.
Even though we were only in Lecce for a few hours, I’ll never forget its unparalleled beauty and enchanting atmosphere.
Appropriately dubbed the “Baroque Jewel of Southern Italy” — and also sometimes referred to as the “Florence of the South” — Lecce is packed with Baroque-styled masterpieces and monuments, historic Roman sites that date back millennia, picture-perfect piazzas, and beautiful sandstone buildings that line quaint little lanes.
To get you inspired to visit this city on your next Italian adventure, take a peek at my Lecce sightseeing photo diary. Discover how Dan — The Wanderful Husband — and I uncovered hidden gems, historic castles, Roman amphitheaters, delicious local restaurants serving up vegan eats, and much more.
SIGHTSEEING IN LECCE, ITALY
Castello Carlo V
Our first stop when sightseeing in Lecce, Italy, was the ridiculously cool Castello Carlo V.
Also known as the Castello di Lecce, this fortress was originally built in the Middle Ages and, in 1539, was strengthened by Charles V. Fun fact? There is a legend linked with this castle that’s pretty darn interesting.
It’s rumored that the family which owned this castle in the 14th century, the Orsini del Balzo family, kept a white bear in the moat of the castle! Definitely check it out if you’re in Lecce or southern Puglia.
Lecce Roman Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano di Lecce)
Next up, we strolled through the city and made our way towards the infamous Roman Amphitheatre, a must-see site in Lecce. Since this city dates back to Roman times, it’s no surprise that there are several Roman sites and attractions dotted throughout the city.
Located in the heart of Lecce in the Piazza St. Oronzo, the Roman Amphitheatre is hands down the biggest and most extensive one in Lecce. It dates back to the second century AD and about a third of the original structure is viewable, showcasing part of the arena and cavea.
It’s absolutely amazing to walk around the Roman Amphitheatre and an absolutely must when sightseeing in Lecce!
The Many Cathedrals and Churches of Lecce
Throughout the entire city of Lecce, you’ll find several cathedrals and churches. Big and small, elaborate and simple, the cathedrals and churches of Lecce are stunning and well worth a stop when exploring the city!
How beautiful are these buildings? With their golden-colored sandstone architecture, intricate detailing, and divine ambiance, these cathedrals and churches almost radiate with peace and grace.
Delicious Local Dishes
When in Puglia, Italy, do what locals do and eat what locals eat! I love seeking out traditional dishes and local delicacies when visiting new places, especially those that are vegan.
Much to our surprise and delight, the Puglia region in Italy is exceptional for vegan travelers, with many traditional dishes being inherently plant-based or super easy to modify vegan.
One of those delicious local dishes is orecchiette con cime di rapa, or orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe. Orecchiette is a type of pasta traditional to the region of Puglia. It’s shaped like little half-domes and the word “orecchiette” translate to little ears, which comes from its distinct shape. Interesting, right?
In Puglia, orecchiette con cime di rapa is simple dish made from orecchiette pasta, broccoli rabe, garlic, olive oil, and anchovies (but you can ask for the dish without this ingredient). It’s super cheap, delicious, and found all over the region! And, in Dan’s opinion, this dish goes very well with a chilled local beer!
Lecce’s Beautiful Piazzas
Much like other cities in Italy, Lecce boasts some beautiful piazzas lined with quaint local shops, tasty restaurants and cute cafes, exquisite churches, and more. One of our favorite piazzas, as well as one of the most popular piazzas in Lecce, is the Piazza del Duomo.
Lined with absolutely stunning buildings, including several gorgeous cathedrals, a beautiful tower, and an art museum, Piazza del Duomo is an exceptional place to see when sightseeing in Lecce.
The Streets of Lecce
One of our absolute favorite things to do when exploring a new city is to simply stroll the streets and just experience the destination. In Lecce’s case, its streets are incredibly gorgeous!
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than walking around with no end destination in mind. Instead, giving into our curiosity and heading down each and every road that looks interesting! I love it.
All in all, I would totally visit Lecce again! This gorgeous city with its golden sandstone buildings, quaint local shops, beautiful cathedrals, and delicious eateries is well worth a visit when traveling around Puglia and Southern Italy.
Tell me, have you ever considered visiting Puglia, aka the heel of Italy? Share in the comments below! And let me know what you think of these beautiful photos of Lecce.
Not sure what to read next? Check out these blog posts: