Golden Day Ninety-Seven: Lecce with CW (Country Walkers) Guide, Marcello Polignano
One of the many great things about CW Adventure (formerly Country Walkers) trips is their native guides. I loved a trip to Sicily I went on with them, where along with the spectacular scenery and food, we had full on cultural immersion with the wonderful Loredana Grasso, who grew up right near Mount Etna. Her stories about cooking with her grandma were great, also her hit on Italy’s political scene, and her passion for her homeland–from every flower on the trail to the delicious almond cookies of Taormina.
I’m grateful a CW Puglia Guide and Lecce native, Marcello Polignano has joined in to give his advice for a Golden Day in his beloved city, a baroque gem that’s often called “The Florence of the South”:
Since a lot of Lecce is zoned as pedestrian only, and it’s flat, you can bike ride or walk around the ancient town comfortably, to admire the major sights:
Basilica of Santa Croce…
Or you can take a ride on a sightseeing hop-on/hop-off little train that reaches all these places. July, August and early September can be very hot and uncomfortable to enjoy the visit, so you may consider getting up a little early and taking your walk around 9:00a.m.. There’s a tourist information office at the Carlo V Castle with maps and leaflets of the city.
Stop in at Caffè Alvino, in Sant’Oronzo Square, to taste a local pastry, the “pasticciotto”, which is a sort of tart closed on top and stuffed with custard, to be served fresh from the oven or warm.
My favorite restaurant for simple, excellently prepared food is Alle Due Corti, close to Sant’Oronzo Square (Corte dei Giugni 1, 0832 242223). You can try the full round of starters, which is enough for everyone, and then have a “ciciri e tria” (fresh pasta with chick-peas).
And be sure to join the Leccesi (the locals) for the passegiata and to peek into beautiful shops.
The two best hotels in town are the Risorgimento, a 5-star resort…
and the Patria Palace Hotel.
For more info on Lecce, check out this recent New York Times Travel Section: 36 Hours in Lecce.