At the moment Lecce is not a very well known tourist destination, so prices tend to be reasonable all year round. The peak period in Lecce is in July and August when the Italian children are on holiday. These are, however, the hottest months, so probably best avoided if possible. September is quieter in Lecce and the temperatures begin to drop. If you do brave the hotter months you will catch the August celebration of the patron saint of Lecce. April and May are a delightful time to visit as the surrounding countryside will be full of spring flowers. For much of the year the warm temperatures last well into the evening so the locals tend to dine fairly late.
Lecce sits in Apulia, deep in southern Italy. This ‘Pearl of the Baroque’ is relatively untroubled by hordes of tourists, but those that do arrive in Lecce marvel at its Baroque excesses. Nearly every facade of the 16th and 17th century buildings is overdecorated with animals, turbaned Saracens, dragons, shells and an overwhelming array of cherubs. As you walk around the cobblestoned streets of Lecce, lined with crumbling balconies and huge doorways, you could be forgiven for thinking that you have slipped into a time warp from 300 years ago. The heart of the town is the St Oronzo Square edged by a huge, half-buried Roman amphitheatre. Sit here and people watch whilst sipping a delicious expresso with ice and almond milk. The Duomo Cathedral of Lecce contains a 900 year old mosaic depicting a surreal tree of life as well as a beautiful marble altar inlaid with lapis lazuli. If you feel you need a break from the excesses of Lecce head for the top floors of the Museo Provinciale where you will find a remarkable collection of contemporary art. Take an evening stroll on Via Palmieri, here is where the residents of Lecce come to see and be seen. In many of the restaurants you won’t find a menu, but will eat what the patron has decided to prepare that day. Enjoy an after dinner gelato or Lecce pastry filled with custard cream before heading to enjoy the lively nightlife centred on the Via Guglilmo Paladini.
The historic centre of Lecce is compact enough to explore comfortably by foot and the narrow streets provide some shade from the sun. The days do get increasingly hot so plan your time carefully. Start your visit by using the little hop on and hop off tourist train to get an overview of the town. The tourist office is happy to help you research bus routes or organise a tailor-made wine and food tour for you.
The nearest airport to Lecce is Brindisi, 30 minutes away by train. There are also taxis and a regular and direct coach service. Several international car hire companies are represented at the airport so consider hiring a car and enjoying the Apulian countryside.