Called “the Florence of the South,” Lecce is the provincial capital of the Salento area. The city, which has strong Messapian roots, was known to its Roman rulers as Lupiae. Today, it welcomes visitors with its magnificent baroque architecture, which blazes on the portals of its palaces and on the facades of the many churches that line the streets inside the city’s three ancient gates: Porta Rudiae, Porta San Biagio and Porta Napoli.
The common factor in the city’s characteristic baroque exuberance is the local “Lecce stone”, so soft and malleable, that master stonecutters were able to create highly sophisticated stone embroidery. The best example of this style is represented by the facade of the Basilica of Santa Croce and by the spectacular Piazza Duomo, home to a soaring bell tower, bishop’s palace, and the lovely Palazzo del Seminario.
Strength and majesty, however, characterize the castle built by Charles V and designed by Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya. The Roman Amphitheatre, adjacent to the central Piazza Sant’Oronzo, offers an intriguing insight into the city’s history.