After our return to Italy last summer it wasn’t long before we got itchy feet and wanted to hit the road again to travel and perhaps get to see and know mainland Europe a little better, without much of an itinerary (as per our ‘never plan’ method of travel) and whilst over the coming weeks we’d travel to and dispell the unsafe myth of Naples and enjoy the quiet life and architecture of cities like Ferrara; we started our new travels off by visiting an ancient Baroque close to Franca’s home called, Lecce

Franca in the centre of Lecce with a 'This Is The Place' tshirt - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

The Florence of the South

Founded over 2000 years ago during the Magna Graecia period of Southern Italy (the Ancient Greek occupation), Lecce shares all of the major characteristics of some of Italy’s most recognised historical sites – such as Rome, Florence and Napoli – with classic stone work and a rediscovered Roman amphitheater at it’s centre; but it’s not this that gives Lecce it’s nickname “The Florence of the South“, but rather the local stone that is used all over for almost every building and has been the stable export and industry of the city for multiple generations.

Behind the stone gate of Lecce - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Baroque Style

The most notable period of Lecce’s past was the 17th Century which was when the lavish Baroque style began to be added not just to Lecce but also to many of the largest trade and religious points of the country.

Just by wandering around the city you’ll see the unmistakable Baroque style on most, if not all of the major sights and attractions, such as the numerous churches and the cathedral of Lecce, but also across the most lavish of houses.

Stone arches above a old house in Lecce - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A classic Italian baroque style town house - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Close up of a Baroque-style window with decorative wrought iron gate - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A decorative Baroque style window bay beginning to crumble - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Corner of a Baroque period designed building - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A carved stone lion above a doorwa - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Worshipping In Style

Most notable of the buildings that employ the Baroque style are the churches and cathedral of Lecce.

The carved stone facade of one of Lecce's churches - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Inside the church filled with typical Baroque spiral stone columns - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A gold framed painting surrounded by Baroque columns - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Gilded Baroque columns - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

The communal buildings that surround the cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo are of course in the same Baroque style and constructed entirely from locally sourced Lecce stone.

Tower of the Lecce Cathedral - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Piazza del Duomo, Lecce - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Stonework decoration of the cathedral - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A stone built Baroque building in Piazza del Duomo - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Baroque style windows - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Close up of the stone Baroque windows - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

And If That Wasn’t Enough

Aside from the numerous Baroque churches and house is the more ancient structure of the Roman amphitheater, a 1800 year old which – like most Roman history sites in Italy – went for centuries untouched and buried amongst the rubble and gradually covered to make way for new buildings.

Thankfully, the amphitheater is uncovered now and is on some occasions actually put to use by the local community to host plays and other activities during the summer months, unfortunately for us there wasn’t anything happening on our two days in Lecce and what made us feel worse was that we saw a few men packing away equipment which led us to draw the conclusion that we must have missed something by a day!

The amphitheatre surrounded by buildings - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Workers deconstructing in the amphitheatre - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Foundations of the former outer wall - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
The entrance to the amphitheatre floor - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Also next to the amphitheatre is the former Sedile Palace which maintains the similar Baroque style of the city, but which was actually constructed before the style became so common.The palace isn’t used as such any more, however, but rather is used as the Lecce tourist information centre – and it’s ceiling is lovely

Outside of the Lecce tourist information center - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
The 500 year old painted ceiling of the now Lecce tourism information centre - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
A large tourism information sign - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Also in the centre of Lecce is one building that I really adore, but certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. Though it’s full of shops and a McDonald’s now, this building’s architectural design was clearly designed and constructed during the period of the Italian Social Republic of the Second World War.

I love it’s block like structure and it’s straight lines, especially for the windows.

Corner of a unique square building in Lecce - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Exterior of this unique building - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Close up of the perfectly straight rectangular window - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Our Taste Of Local Cuisine

In between our sightseeing in Lecce we also had time to find and try some local cuisine, but instead of trying a little bit of everything, we actually found something we loved on our first try and just kept going back for more.

It’s called Puccia and it’s delicious.

The inside of a puccia - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Best bought from small specialist puccia bars, you can choose your fillings from a number of marinated vegetables and other stuffing such as fish and a selection of meats, or in our vegetarian case, lots and lots of veg!

A puccia stuffed with peppers and other marinated vegetables - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
Inside a stuffed puccia - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Luckily for us our puccia experience was kindly donated by our friend Ayla who were really grateful to for buying us lunch and keeping us full enough to keep travelling and discovering such great towns as this. Thanks Ayla!

Art Culture In Lecce

Of course, this being a travel and art centred blog, it wasn’t long before we investigated a little and managed to find one guy hidden behind one of the churches who was working on restoring an older religious piece.

A man painting a statue of a priest - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Also, whilst this part of Italy isn’t particularly well known for a large street art scene, due to our relentless back-street searching for off-the-beaten-path discoveries, we did find one or two pieces worth sharing.

A street art sticker job - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy
More street art stickers - The Baroque Buildings And Sights of Lecce, Italy

Have you seen more Baroque work elsewhere?