Explore The Puglia Region From Lecce Around The Heel of the Boot
After leaving Pescara our next stop let us explore the Puglia region from Lecce.
On our drive south, we stopped for lunch stop in Mare di Bari and stretched our legs. We tried some local specialties with the town people out for a Saturday stroll by the beach.
When we arrived in Lecce, we got ourselves settled into the 8 Piu Hotel on the outskirts of the older city. The advantage of being out of the old city was a more modern hotel that offered a mini suite for reasonable prices. Our room was large so we could spread out. And the hotel offered lots of lounge space. So if the weather got bad and we got stuck in for a rain day there was somewhere for us to go.
The downside of a hotel that catered to bus groups was a general lack of customer service. We found the wifi service was hit and miss throughout our trip. For 2 days we had air conditioning problems. And hotel management seemed to accept that it would not be fixed. This hotel had the softest sheets I have ever slept on. But we would not stay here if we returned to Lecce.
The Baroque Lecce
With rain forecast on and off for the week we were in Lecce, we couldn’t afford to stay inside if it only drizzled. The hotel staff looked at us oddly as we headed out to walk in the drizzle into the old town. A less than 30 minute walk did not deter us from a walk. Although when we turned around for home 4 hours later, at times it appeared daunting.
Throughout our visit, the Obelisk of Lecce was our navigation aid. It led us into the old town and gave us a reference point for return to the hotel.
Entering via the Porta Napoli gate on the Sunday morning, we were amused when we found a novel old bike club meeting under the arch. Included in the group was the Italian version on an ice cream truck – a gelato bike!
We were not the only people that wandered through the old town of Lecce on this grey day. Other tourists from our hotel, lots of Italian families and several larger tour groups were in town. We even saw one bike tour in the town centre. When we eavesdropped on one English tour, we picked up a little more insight into what we were looking at. But we soon left and wandered on our own.
Lecce was known as the Baroque City. Everywhere we peeked, we saw intricate designs on buildings.
The Baroque Churches Of Lecce
We wandered around Lecce from church to church and saw much more of the Baroque style Lecce was known for. The Basilica di Santa Croce was under renovation on the outside. But we still saw some of the amazing detail on the outside face. The inside proved surprising and worth the trip around the beggars and the scaffolding.
Targeting a stop at the main piazza, we found the statue of Sant Oronzo high on the column. This was our meeting place for our full day cooking class the next day. The main square had an interesting interactive art thing going on. Coloured blocks and balloons caught the camera’s eye.
We were interested when we found two different ancient Roman amphitheater ruins in the old town.
But then we found even more churches after we left the city centre. Most we passed by because we were a bit churched out. But for a few we were drawn in and saw more of the amazing Baroque design. Chiesa di Santa Chiara was less ornate on the outside. But we were drawn to the fading fresco still visible on the outside. The inside made up for the less ornamented outside.
The main duomo was closed when we got that far. But we walked around the large courtyard and noted the times in case we made it back another day.
More Sights Around Lecce
When we took our cooking class, we asked about the high number of churches in every town we went. He noted that a high percentage of the population were practicing Catholics who attended one or more of the churches.
Churches were often built and then abandoned as the population moved to the newest church. The old churches were often kept up not through donations but generally through corporate sponsorship. That explained how many beautiful but empty (and clearly unused) churches we toured.
Finally making it back to the Porta Napoli gate, we set out to walk back to the hotel but got detoured. We saw the old cemetery from the window of our hotel. When we wandered up to the gate, we tried to assess if the paths through the cemetery would get us close to where we were going.
After the third police car pulled up at the cemetery gate, we were not certain this was the place we really wanted to be. We passed by the archeological museum. But were uncertain if its state of disrepair meant it was closed.
Our rain day really did not materialize. We saw far more of Lecce this first day than we planned.
Day Trips To Explore the Puglia Region from Lecce
When we got back to the hotel, we planned our day trip to explore the Puglia region from Lecce.
We started with an awesome full day cooking course and learned more about cooking and the traditions in Southern Italy.
A day trip took us to the southern most point of the heel of Italy where the Adriatic Sea met the Ionian Sea. We had a nice day as we watched the surfers.
Ostuni – the White City provided an interesting day trip as we walked through this old hill town and explored the churches.
On this same day trip, we drove around the country back roads and found trulli houses. And then spent some time as we wandered through the trulli town of Alberobello.
A visit to the coastal town of Otranto showed us a church that was both beautiful and the church of skulls. These skills provided an insight into a darker period in this part of Italy.
While we were in the Otranto area, we travelled along the coast and found the most east point in Italy and a swimming hole. A short stop in Santa Cesarea Terme showed us a resort town quiet in the off season.
We enjoyed our day trips as we explored the different areas around the Puglia region.
The Sights of Puglia
We travelled around the whole of the Puglia region for a week. But we were sure we did not see everything. As we drove the region, we noted the interesting country we drove through.
We found olive trees everywhere – old knurled ones and new regimental growths. We were told that the vast majority of the olive oil comes from this region.
While there were huge patches of fertile, deep red soil, most of the countryside we travelled through looked like arid desert complete with cactus.
The fields were strewn with rocks and bounders. Where fields were cleared, we saw stone walls that completely surrounded individual properties – big and small.
We found an abundance of alternate energy being harvested in the region – whether it was huge windmill farms or acres of sun panels.
A Great Week To Explore The Puglia Region from Lecce
Did you explore the Puglia Region from Lecce? Did we miss a day trip from Lecce?
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