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Situated in the region of Salento, 40kms from Brindisi is the pleasant town of Lecce. The town is well known for its Baroque architecture dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. Lecce also enjoys a lively student population, which adds to the town’s atmosphere, especially in the evening.
When in Lecce, you should first visit the Duomo, which is nestled in a closed square. Built in the late 17th century, it’s a consummate example of the architecture here. Adjacent to the Duomo are the campanile towers, which stand 64m above the piazza.
Lecce is easily navigated on foot, and Piazza Sant'Oronzo is a good place to begin a walking tour through the town. The 2nd century Roman column, Colonna Romana, was struck by a bolt of lightning in 1528 in the nearby town of Brindisi. After the Brindisians left it neglected on the ground, the townspeople of Lecce took it home and rebuilt it. Additionally, the remains of a Roman amphitheatre stand at the southern side of the piazza, a reminder of the macabre sports that once took place here.
As the town thrives on a healthy student population, the streets can be thronged with the young and restless during the nights. The area around Piazzetta del Duca d’Atena can be a fun place to visit if you’re looking for a drink and some heady music.
Gallipoli is a 37-kilometre drive southwest of Lecce, on the Gulf of Taranto side of the Salento Peninsula. This is not the famed place in Turkey, although here you’ll find evocative architecture and strange winding streets. The beach, Baia Verde, is just south of the town and attracts many visitors. The museum, ancient cathedral and castle are also popular.
Most visitors will arrive first in the town of Brindisi, where it’s best to continue by train, as the nearest airport is a long distance away. Lecce is connected to Brindisi by an hourly train service on the state-run FS line. For service from points east and south, you'll have to take the FSE line, which can be a little slow. Several trains coming from Otranto and Gallipoli enter Lecce each day. The train station is about two kilometres from Piazza Sant'Oronzo, in the centre of the old quarter. If you have a car, take route 613 from Brindisi.