Lecce: the Baroque lady

Lecce is a riot of cherubs; the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy. Sometimes described as the "Florence of the Baroque" or as "The Baroque lady". Lecce has a lovely historic centre, and travellers can easily spend a day or two exploring picturesque little lanes and finding the more far-flung Baroque churches. The town's great artistic treasure is its architecture.

The city was founded around 2.000 years old and by the 15th century had become one of the most important cities in southern Italy. Over this period Lecce was decorated with important Baroque monuments and under threat from an Ottoman invasion, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, rebuilt the defenses of the city along with a new castle.

The "Lecce Stone", from which much of the city is built, is an important export for the area. Lecce is also a leading agricultural producer particularly for olive oil and wine and the area around Lecce also specialises in the production of ceramics.

Lecce has a true southern rhythm. As the day heats up, the streets empty and during the hottest afternoon hours only a handful of overheated tourists can be spotted in the historic lanes. Churches and businesses generally close for several hours. Local people re-appear as the afternoon cools into evening, but the passeggiata hour here is later than northern parts of Italy. Smart youngsters, families with small children and the elderly all promenade the streets late in the evenings, with the town coming to life between eight and midnight.


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