Lecce

Overview

Introduction

Nicknamed "the Florence of the south," Lecce, Italy, is a lively university town that boasts a thriving jazz scene and some of the best baroque architecture in the world. The last stop on the Trenitalia rail system in the Puglia region, Lecce is a gem among the other less-than-enticing cities of the region.

Pedestrians share the city's narrow, winding streets with detailed sculptures carved from Lecce stone, a porous, malleable limestone unique to the area. The crazily ornate church of Santa Croce shows what the stone is really capable of.

The main Piazza Sant'Oronzo features a Roman amphitheater, once the site of gladiatorial battles. On the Piazza Duomo, you'll find a cathedral built in 1114 and a 210-ft/64-m bell tower. They're immaculately lit at night, making for luminous post-digestivo strolls.

Much smaller and more quaint than Florence, Lecce is often overlooked—except by Italians, who overrun the region in August. Most weekends in summer, visitors will find free concerts in Lecce's various piazzas, from symphonies and opera to jazz and reggae.

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