Lecce, Italy

When thinking of Italian cities, it is likely the better known areas come to mind, along the lines of Rome or Venice. However, the incredible city of Lecce is steeped in a rich history and provides ample cultural and historical landmarks worth a visit. It is the capital of the province of the same name, Lecce, and one of the most fascinating cities in within the region of Puglia. With a history that traces back to 200 BC, the resident of Lecce, numbering over nearly 100,00, have a strong identity and pride in their home. With Baroque architecture, wine and olive oil production and such a rich history, it should come as no surprise that Lecce is among the top cities to visit in Italy.

Roman Theater, Lecce, ItalyThe first traces of Lecce in history can be found as far back at the 3rd century BC, when in the Trojan War the city was taken over by the Romans and renamed Lupiae. By the 2nd century AD, the city was moved by the Emperor Hadrian, to it’s present day location roughly 2 miles Northeast. The name was also changed slightly, to Licea or Litium. The city was soon thriving, and had a theater and amphitheater. Lecce’s patron saint was the city’s first Christian Bishop, a man by the name of Sant’Oronzo who served during this time period. After the fall of the Western Empire, the city changed hands often, each successive handover impressing new cultures on the identity of the people. During the 15th century, Lecce was among the most significant cities in Italy, and many Baroque buildings went up this time, which the city is known for today.

The main attraction in Lecce today is the Baroque architecture left behind from the 14th century and beyond. Sites such as the Church of the Holy Cross, the Duomo Cathedral, Porta Napoli, the Church of San Matteo and the Palace of Charles V. Some Roman remnants exist as well, including the famed amphitheater dating back to the 2nd century AD.

The industry of Lecce is based primarily on the export of a type of limestone so common to the area that it is called “Lecce stone.” It is very malleable and used often for sculpting. Ceramic production is the extent of the industrial economy in Lecce, although agriculture is heavily focused on olive oil and wine. Tourism is a small part of the economy, but ties into the other aspects well. The natural products of Lecce make wonderful souvenirs, including small sculptures, bottles of wine and olive oil, and paintings of the various architectural sites on ceramic plates.

With a pleasant Mediterranean climate, a rich history, a plethora of cultural and historical landmarks and several attractions, the city of Lecce is among the top Italian cities to visit. Travelers won’t be disappointed with a trip the the region.


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