Italy Today

Is Lecce the Florence of Southern Italy?

A few reasons to visit Lecce either in Summer or in Winter

Is Lecce the Florence of Southern Italy?

Claudia Astarita

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A few months ago, the magazine International Living published an interesting report about Puglia, one on the most beautiful regions in Southern Italy, the one forming the heel of the Italian boot. Steenie Harvey fell in love with Puglia because she has a secret passion for witches, and when you travel through the South of Italy it is easy to bump into little witches, horns or other sort of good luck amulets, not only during Christmas time.

If Puglia is a land of olive trees and sunshine, its major cities hides lots of secrets and beauties. International Living described Lecce as "a sumptuous baroque beauty of a city. Full of golden stone palaces, churches, and elegant little piazzas, it justifiably calls itself the 'Florence of the South'." The best time to go for a walk in Lecce is when the market is on, especially during holiday times, when stalls are packed with food (and don't forget to try cartellate?"pinwheels of crisp, deep-fried dough drizzled with honey!), fireworks, decorations, toys, clothes and several other little things. Finally, as Mrs Harvey highlights, "when darkness falls, things get really magical here. Piazza Sant'Oronzo is one of the main squares in Lecce's old quarter", where a Roman amphitheatre is embraced by an enchanting web of narrow streets.

Lecce is pretty famous for its creations made of cartapesta, the art of making things with a mess of soggy paper and glue, and terracotta. Last but not least, the city is a perfect year-round location for any sort of holiday. In Summer it is perfect to enjoy good food, charming walks and stunning beaches, while in Winter tradition, warm, winter mild days, and charming crafts are always on. And for witches-lovers, admiring Befana's icons -the famous which whose legend says that  on the eve of the Epiphany, January 6, she delivers presents to good children and lumps of coal to the naughty ones, can easily become a must.

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