Lecce – going for Baroque


Lecce – going for Baroque

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Yes, I should be ashamed of the pun but I am, after all, shameless. I visited Lecce last year but hardly saw anything of the city. I was desperate to find an ottica (optics – glasses etc) to buy a replacement contact lens so I didn’t explore very much  while I waited out the typical 4 hour lunch break when virtually everything is closed. Typical of the south of Italy. So I didn’t really understand what the big deal was about Lecce. This year everyone kept telling me how great Lecce was so I figured I really missed out on something and how right I was. The old town of Lecce is really a marvel of baroque architecture, has wonderful handicrafts should one, uh, wish to shop a little. And of course great food.

We found a wonderful apartment through AirBnB in the house of Antonella and Omero in the nearby town of Cavallino which is apparently part Lecce but has a long history of it’s own of which Omero was extremely proud. He is of the 4th generation in Cavallino so naturally it’s in his blood. We were not quite as impressed with Cavallino as Omero but it made an ideal base to explore the city. One note of advice here. I decided to set the GPS in the iPhone to what was probably the very center of the city, the Piazza del Duomo. That makes sense. However it led me through tiny streets in the old city center followed by irate locals in cars and scooters who had little patience with an almost lost American tourist. So if you ever drive into Lecce set the GPS for Porta Napoli. There is easy access in and out of the  city (relatively) and also ample parking within easy walking distance to the best parts of the old town. Beats having a guy pulling along side the driver (me) and gesticulating and yelling at me. I just told him to f*** off and continued on. I used english rather than Italian so I wonder if he understood that much. Probably.

So back to the baroque. We went through the duomo and really marveled at the design inside and out. Then we went on to the church that is supposed to be the pinnacle of baroque design but just like everything else in the south that doesn’t involve eating and drinking, the church itself was closed from 1:00 to 5:00 so I satisfied myself with pictures of the facade and stole some photos from the web of the interior. Well, I looked for photos without great success but please click on this link to see a tour of the incredible interior.

The Lecce duomo

The Lecce duomo

Detail of Lecce duomo facade

Detail of Lecce duomo facade

Incredibly detailed interior

Incredibly detailed interior

More incredible interior

More incredible interior

And yet more

And yet more

Facade of Basilica di Giovanni Battista

Facade of Basilica di Giovanni Battista

Detail of the facade.

Detail of the facade.

In addition to all of this fantastic baroque stuff there is also a reasonably well preserved roman amphitheater, except of course that part that has now been paved over and built upon.

The roman amphitheater not far away from the duomo

The roman amphitheater not far away from the duomo

More of the amphitheater

More of the amphitheater

And let’s not forget that all important aspect of Italian life – FOOD. We had dinner at a very traditional Lecce restaurant which featured the southern “cucina povera” (food of the poor) called Trattoria di Nonna Tetti. A pleasant evening at modest cost. Then there was the food that Antonella served each morning for breakfast as well as the night out with the family for a great pizza in Cavallino. Lecce is a fantastic place to visit. I hope that you can get there someday. Actually the same can be said for about everywhere that we went in Puglia.

Interior of Trattoria di Nonna Tetti.

Interior of Trattoria di Nonna Tetti.

Typical breakfast - impossible for 2 to eat.

Typical breakfast – impossible for 2 to eat.

Pizza with  Omero, Massimiliano and Antonella

Pizza with
Omero, Massimiliano and Antonella

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