When you travel down to the southern end of Italy and get out on the fairly remote Salento Peninsula there is no doubt which city is the star of the lot down there – it is Lecce. It sometimes talked about like the Florence of the south – which isn’t actually fair to neither Florence nor Lecce. Lecce isn’t Florence it is its own town. Located down here at the very southern end of Italy the summers probably insanely hot – but during winter time the city is nice with good sunny days and reasonable temperatures making it easy to explore the city.
The city has been inhabited since the Greeks made a small colony in the area and later the Romans took over before the Norman made their southern Italian kingdom. And it seems like they all left a little mark on the city – most of it buried under the ground so you can see most of it. Today when you wonder the streets of the city most of the houses probably only about 500 years old – ok that would be old in most of the world but not really in Lecce.
It is really nice to wonder the old streets of the city and explore it and the different squares. The busiest square in the old town is the Piazza Sant Oronzo which have some nice buildings surrounding it – and obviously a McDonalds which seems impossible to avoid anywhere in Italy where you find a sufficiently interesting square. On the Square is a pillar made by the Romans – it used to mark the end of the Apian way along with one more column. The column originally stood in Brindisi not far from here but was donated to Lecce because Sant’Oronzo was given part of the credit of saving Brindisi from the plague which hit the city in 1656. During our visit we unfortunately couldn’t see the column because it was covered for some reason – it didn’t look like they were doing repairs so it is uncertain when you can see the column again.
Next to the square you can see an old amphitheater from romans day which has been excavated – you can go down and see it during the day but you can actually see most of the place from the street so you might just skip the entrance fee and enjoy the free view from above.
Inside the old town are a total of about 40 churches which you can go and explore if you like. There are many smaller churches which are nice to enjoy. There are a couple of bigger and very nice churches you can go and see inside the main cathedral is at the Piazza del Duomo or you can go for another big church the Basilica di Santa Croce which is located on Via Umberto close to the Piazza Sant Oronzo.
When you walk the streets of the old town you will walk on top of centuries of history. There are probably many artefacts just under your feet’s. In the small street of Via Grandi you can find an old house which has been turned into a museum called Museo Faggiano. Inside the house you can explore the many layers of history of Lecce.