The Florence of the South: A Private Walk Through Lecce
- Piazza Duomo: This open-air plaza is Lecce's formal focal point, surrounded by the Duomo (Cathedral) famous for its split architectural personality, a stately five-story bell tower, the austere Seminario, and the arcaded 15th-century Bishop's Palace.
- Roman ruins: Ancient history comes to life in lively St. Oronzo Square, with a partly excavated 2nd-century stone amphitheater that once seated 20,000, and a sculpture-topped column that marked the end of the Appian Way in Brindisi.
- Basilica of Santa Croce: Gawk awhile at Lecce's most exuberant architectural confection, a Baroque showplace clad in carved allegorical creatures of every imaginable stripe – from lions and dragons to cherubs, topless women, and Turks.
- Small group = more personal: Share your experience with only people you know; enjoy the luxury of deeper interaction with your guide and a more flexible itinerary.
About this Lecce tour
From the moment you pass through the triumphal Porta Napoli gate and into the maze of narrow, cobbled lanes that wind through Lecce's historic quarter, you'll be leaving the 21st century in the rearview. And heading into a world where, down every alleyway and around every corner, another building sporting extravagantly decorated doorways, columns, balconies, and rooflines appears.
Encrusted with frolicking cherubs, serene angels, patron saints, wild animals, fresh vegetables, and a whole lot of other weird stuff that your guide will be happy to point out, the riotously rococo facades of Lecce are a testament to the art of the stonecutter.
But this isn't just any old Baroque wonderland. Uniquely soft local stone allowed a distinct over-the-top style of carved artisanry to develop here – pioneered in the 17th century by hometown carving superstar-architect Francesco Antonio Zimbalo. The technique even has its own architecture-textbook name: barocco leccese (Lecce Baroque).
It certainly wasn't quick work. Construction of the Basilica of Santa Croce dragged on for two centuries and through several generations of stonemasons before it was finally finished in 1695. (By then, some parts of it were already so old, they were likely in need of refurbishment.)
This absolute creme-de-la-Lecce landmark is mind-numbingly ornate – you may not know whether to admire it, or wonder what mad visions gripped its creators.
Either way, it's a sight you won't soon forget. One of many that fit that description in this relatively undiscovered city, which went for Baroque in the biggest possible way.
History down the toilet
Long before all those out-of-control stonecutters were set loose on its skyline, Lecce was a Roman outpost – just 25 miles from Brindisi, where the country-crossing Appian Way ended. All sorts of ancient things tend to turn up if you dig deep enough here. Like the half-buried amphitheater under Piazza St. Oronzo. Or the Greek tomb, Roman granary, Franciscan chapel, and etchings from the Knights Templar – all unearthed by a Lecce trattoria owner who was just trying to fix a slow-draining toilet in 2000.
Please proceed to the Porta Napoli at Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo, Leece to meet our GoBe Rep with the displayed logo sign.
Expect a classic, Mediterranean-like climate, with hot summers and rain in the spring and fall. Remember your sunscreen.
Expect to walk for approximately 4 miles, over varying surfaces and up steps and inclines. This tour is not suitable for travelers with limited mobility or those who utilize a wheelchair.
Cultural, Scenic, Private Tour
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for children ages 6 years or older as they may find 2 hours of walking/standing difficult.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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