Puglia region in Italy is officially my new favourite part of this Mediterranean country. Despite the fact that I was a guest there a few months ago, but the emotions are still very fresh.
The next stop after Basilicata region, where we’ve visited the ghost town Craco and medieval city Matera, was Puglia. Incredibly hot and sweaty days made us begging only for the jump into the water and never coming back. That’s why we’ve chosen to head straight down to the Southern part of the region, so-called Salento peninsula, and get some salty waves.
You know the shape of Italy? So, our destination was exactly the lowest part of the heel, and first of all – the famous town of Gallipoli. Everybody speaks so much about the beauty of the sea, great beaches and amazing atmosphere there.
Maybe it is so, but we didn’t find that paradise… No accommodation, fixed in advance, gave us a space for spontaneity. Before coming there we were thinking to stay some nights in Gallipoli, but after a few hours in overcrowded beach, annoying lines for the changing rooms and extremely cold waters of Ionian sea we said Ciao! to this place and went to search for some culture in Lecce. This main Salentine city, I must admit, in our primary plans was just a spot to change the train into the bus and go to the sea, but when we entered its Old Town – we immediately fell in love with it, and absolutely didn’t want to let it go.
We were really on a hurry during this “Southern Italy” trip, but when we saw Lecce – decided to make a stop and spend some lazy time there without any trains, buses and ever–changing apartments. I was really enchanted by this city, and now perfectly understand, why very often it is being called as Florence of the South. Every street, every corner was opening new yellowish views and guiding to not yet discovered secrets from ancient times.
Lecce’s walled Old Town is very cozy, created from a few bigger squares and the labyrinth of small streets. I am a big fan of getting lost on purpose in such puzzle, so of course I didn’t refuse to fulfill this idea in here too.
Lecce is full of Baroque architecture, so if you are a lover of it, your heart will be greatly pleasured!
Lecce’s colour is sandy yellow. Actually, that was a feature, which really brought me some similarities with Malta, having the same shades.
Lecce is a town in Southern Italy, where life is not that rushing. So, pausa pranzo, the time in the middle of the day, when all the shops, eating places and other institutions of service are being closed, there exists. It means that you can have midday rest together with locals, or go to explore the inner life of the walled Old Town.
Leccese cuisine has to offer many different dishes, which you’ll never find, let’s say, in the Northern part of Italy. Is it a hot day in the city? So, make a break, head to the first nice bar and order caffè leccese, traditional cold coffee with almond milk and ice cubes. Feeling some hunger? Then, add the pasticciotto pastry with thick cream inside, which is typical in Salento region, too.
During our time in Lecce we stayed in a lovely apartment next to Chiesa di Sant’Irene church, so right in the city center. However, not only the location and modern interior of the flat conquered our hearts. The major fact was that our apartment had a rooftop terrace. If speaking frankly, I could not imagine the more ideal dinner than there, surrounded with other Leccese roofs, ancient towers and the vivid city’s bustle, echoing from below… Because yes, Lecce, calm and tranquil during the day, every evening was opening the hidden chapters of lively and noisy darkness, filled up with loud conversations, laughter and happy summer mood.
So, want to have rest? Lecce is perfect! Want to spend long hours while sipping sweet cocktails in the streets till late hours? Then, again, Lecce is perfect!
by Gintarė Adamonytė