Heading to Lecce? Here Are The Best Places According to The Locals

Piazza del Duomo - Lecce, Italy - Travel photography

Lecce is a great city in Apulia that you can visit or stay at during your holidays. The city has a lot to offer in the way of historical and artistic attractions, such as churches, Roman ruins, the Castle of Charles V and museums to discover the past and present of this beautiful destination. It also has many other little gems for you to unveil, and you can live a truly immersive experience in Apulia through the local, traditional food and activities that you can engage in while you’re here.
Staying in Lecce means you’ll have the chance to visit this incredible city while also being close by to many other wonderful sights of Salento. You’ll be able to reach beaches, hot springs, cathedrals and more, and the best way to tour Salento is through car rental. The various cities and towns scattered along the coast are not always connected through a reliable and intuitive public transport system and the experience could get complicated and unnecessarily uncomfortable, especially when the alternative of going by car is a much better choice. The lack of severe traffic (unlike that found in Northern Italian cities) will ensure you’ll make your way to your destination faster, and every attraction as sufficient parking space to accommodate tourists.
The best time of the year to visit Salento is the beginning or ending of the high season. Come to Salento in May/June, or during September/October to find a more relaxed and quiet atmosphere. Without hordes of other tourists swarming the beaches and sights, you’ll have more space and time to fully enjoy everything Salento has to offer, both in the way of nature (such as Otranto and Sana Cesarea), as well as what concerns the hinterland, further from the seaside, where you can find great spots (like the city of Lecce itself).

 

Must See in Salento

Salento has a lot to offer and the choice is wide, since every mile of beach hides treasures, and every corner of Apulia has the potential to be a vacation spot full of great things to see and do. Since you’re probably not going to be able to visit every little place on your way up and down Salento, here are some ideas on what to visit during your stay. Don’t forget that behind every little town or beach is hidden a great opportunity to find interesting and scenic locations, restaurants and places to relax – Use the internet freely on the go to look for the best rated eateries and spots for an extra little adventure as you visit the following main sights. Sometimes, getting lost is a blessing, when it enables you to find hidden gems!

Otranto

 

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In the city of Otranto you won’t just find the spectacular Aragonese Castle, but also the Cathedral, dating back to 1088. The altar is surrounded by the remains of the 800 Martyrs of Otranto, making for a truly impressive sight.

Lecce

We’ve already mentioned the many beautiful places that you can visit while in Lecce, but the most important and historically relevant feature of the city would have to be its churches. The Duomo, Lecce’s Cathedral is the most eye-catching feature of the city square, with a 70-metre high bell tower.

Galatina

In Galatina you will find many interesting buildings and tourist sites to visit, bot religious and of historical relevance, but the most beautiful is the Basilica di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, build at the end of the 1300s. While you’re busy in the city touring the sights, stop by a bakery or ask for the local signature dessert at a restaurant: the pasticciotto, a baked pastry with custard filling you’re sure to love!

Santa Cesarea

Come to Santa Cesarea to enjoy the sea and to take part in something unique: the thermal baths, with various facilities. The city was built on hot springs and here you can enjoy different cosmetic and therapeutic services.

Porto Cesareo

Visit this town if you love nature, for you will find a natural reserve, a marine reserve and many wonderful beaches to enjoy. Clear waters, rocky and sandy shores and many picturesque spots await you in Porto Cesareo. Don’t forget to enjoy some incredible fish dishes and seafood while you’re here.

Castro

South of Lecce, you will find the town of Castro and its many natural sights. You can enjoy the beautiful sea nearby and the natural areas and rock formations. The Grotta Zinzulusa is the most relevant in the area among other minor cave complexes near Castro, and it consists of three rooms filled with stunning stalactites, stalagmites and rocky walls that for their shape will remind the visitor of laundry on a clothesline with the sun filtering from the nooks and spaces between them.

Vicino Poesia

5 Restaurants in Salento for Your Palates only

Written by Paola Fiocchi, Director, Passepartout Homes (www.passepartout-homes.com)

Having visited the region of Salento in Puglia for the past 8 years, I can pretty easily assure you, you won’t have a bad gastronomic experience in the heel of Italy.

Wherever you will end up eating, you will be greeted by welcoming hosts and mouth-watering dishes, made with simple ingredients. From starred restaurants to shacks on the beach, Salento knows a thing or two about good, honest food and wine.

crystal clear water of Salento
Salento in Puglia offers sun, crystal clears waters and excellent gastronomy.

Puglia provides most of what Italy consumes. Most of the grains for pasta, fish, olive oil and wine come from here. The region is covered by vast areas of ancient olive trees so it will come as no surprise that Puglia also produces over 70% of Italy’s olive oil (and 15 percent of the world’s olive oil). The region is also producer of 25 DOC wines most of which come from the Salento area.

Some of the region “signature” dishes include “orecchiette” (or “small ears”) because of their resemblance to small ears. Enjoy orecchiette with fresh tomato sauce, basil and strong ricotta cheese. Orecchiette with “cime di rapa” (sort of broccoli) are also a region’s favourite.

For breakfast head to the your local bar where locals enjoy a cup of freshly brewed espresso coffee and warm “pasticciotto” standing at the counter. The best pasticciotti can be eaten in Galatina where Pasticceria Abalone has been creating these pastries since 1745.

You will not get hungry during the day as there are plenty of snacks and appetisers available, including “frittini” , a mix of fried appetisers, “friselle”, a snack made of crunchy dry bread best served dipped in water and topped with fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil and “pucce, a sandwich made of pizza dough and stuffed with cured meat, cheese or vegetables; not to mention the round shaped “tarallini” crackers available in different flavours, excellent with a glass of cold rosé wine on the beach.

Here are my top 5 recommended places to eat in Salento. Spoil alert, expect the lovely aroma of freshly prepared meals and the warm welcome of their owners.

L’Altro Baffo in Otranto, where Chef Cristina Conte will serve you traditional Apulia dishes interpreted in a contemporary key, where tradition meets innovation. Expect freshly made pasta, fresh fish and seasonal ingredients. Our favourite dish is “chitarrine ai “ricci di mare” “, fresh pasta with sea-urchins, for those of you with really fine palates! A family run business located in one of the most scenic spots of Otranto under the shadow of the Aragonese Castle. Reservation highly advisable.

Lo Scalo in Alessano, a historic seafront restaurant built along the rocky coastal route between Tricase and Leuca. Seafood dishes will be prepared according to the catch of the day and served in an enchanting setting by the water. As dessert, excellent is “pasticciotto” with lemon custard. Reservation highly advisable.

Agriturismo Le Site in Corigliano d’Otranto, where most of the ingredients used in the kitchen are cultivated in the Agriturismo’s own fields. Excellent meat and an abundance of vegetables are served by this family run enterprise. Le Site also produces its very own olive oil as well as home-made jam and liquors, available for purchase at the restaurant. Le Site also offers a number of guests rooms for those looking for a lodging.

Cantine Menhir Salento located outside Otranto is a producer of some of the best wines of Salento, including Negroamaro or Primitivo. Here you can also reserve a table at their “Osteria Origano” where excellent traditional Apulia dishes are served. In summer you can dine al-fresco in their Mediterranean garden and may be entertained by live music.

La Porta Antica in Sternatia is a traditional trattoria where excellent pizza, meat and fish dishes can be savoured. Their speciality are the “antipasti” which I highly recommend to try in abundance. Portions are very generous! It is very popular with locals and during the weekend and summer months it can be very crowded. reservations recommended.