Lecce: Baroque and Ancient Civilizations

Lecce is the second largest province in Puglia, and one of the most important cities of the region, with 2,000 years of history. Built on the site of the ancient Roman town of Lupiae, Lecce was contested by the Byzantines, Lombards, and Saracens after the fall of the Roman Empire. Because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city, Lecce is often referred to as “The Florence of the South”. It became a diocese in the 6th century, and was captured and elevated to a countship by the Normans in the mid-11th century.

Due to its geographical position between two seas (the Adriatic on the east side and the Ionian to the south), and its fertile soil, Puglia was an attractive proposition for colonists. Its history is closely linked with those of other Mediterranean countries and their invaders who came from afar: the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Normans, and the Bourbons. Due to the many populations that came through and settled in the region, hundreds of distinct dialects are spoken in Puglia, making it almost impossible for the locals to communicate. 

In spite of the exploitation of resources over the centuries, Puglia gained incredible cultural and gastronomic patrimony, whose fascinating eclecticism visitors can enjoy throughout the year. 

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