Lecce in southern Italy has long been called the Florence of the South. It's a trek to get down this far from Tuscany (Puglia is the heel of the boot), I won't lie about that. From Bologna by train, it's about an 8-10 hour trip depending upon the train you take and the delay factor. The nearest airport is Brindisi, about 30 minutes away by car.
I hadn't been to Puglia since my 2009 trip. I only spent a few hours in Lecce back in 09 before moving further south to the town of Ugento. I promised myself back then to return to Lecce and give the town its due. I'm very happy that I returned for Tour d'Italia 2017.
Plenty of dining options in Lecce, from fast casual to full-blown multi-course formal. I'll detail my dining experiences in the next several posts, this post represents the overview.
Lots of pizza and good bread (00 Doppiozero) being consumed in this town. The pizza places aren't large dining establishments for sitting down, street dining is the thing around here, so an entire family will be huddled around a small table eating pizza together outside. Pizza is social, it's family, it's friends, it's take-away. It's also creative. Everyday I walked by Il Pizzicotto, Pizza al Taglio (my preferred place, thanks Marco), there was another version of pizza being displayed. I love the variety. Sure, I'm a sucker for pepperoni and cheese in the States, but it's hard to beat a truffle cheese pizza with mushrooms on a Sunday night. A word of note, Il Pizzicotto charges for its pizza by weight, as each individual piece is cut for the customer.
The town of Lecce is easy to navigate within the old city. Plenty of landmarks and churches to explore. Train station is a 5 minute walk to the center of town.
Sunday's are busy in Lecce, unlike some towns in Tuscany which can be nearly shut down except for the most touristy towns. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Lecce the streets are packed with people and nearly every bar and restaurant open. The main restaurants don't open until about 730pm, sometimes 830pm. Pizza is served in some places as early as 6pm.
Monday’s in Lecce might lead you to believe that zombies attacked the town right after you walked safely back to your apartment on Sunday night. The streets are empty. Businesses are closed and you wonder where everyone is. I've never seen anything like it in a major town in Italy, there's always someone out. Not here. So remember to stock up on food for the day, because your options are limited.
I look forward to returning to Puglia. I would base my journey in Lecce but would rent a car to re-explore the towns around the region.