“Turin is magic” said a very stylish woman at the hair salon, glass of prosecco in hand.
It was a few days before Christmas 2016 and I was in the city on a sort of reconnaissance mission. My fiancé and I were thinking about making a move from Sweden and considering an Italian city.
Mario, having been born and raised in a coastal Tuscan town, had lived in Pisa, Florence, Rome and Milan. I had been a tourist in all of them, and had a strong preference for Milan, but he suggested I check out Torino (Turin and Torino are the same place, btw — Torino is its Italian name).
And so I went for three days on my own to scope things out (finding a decent hairdresser being part of it, of course).
What I learned in those first few days developed into a full-blown affection for the many interesting pockets of what was Italy’s very first capital city.
We spy with our little eye a new love affair brewing in Southern Italy: you + Lecce.
Usually overshadowed by her shinier counterparts in Southern Italy –– the Amalfi Coast and Matera, for example –– Lecce is the definition of under-the-radar, hiding at the bottom of Italy’s boot heel. She’s less glam but more gorgeous than most people realize.
The easiest way to describe Lecce: she’s basically the Florence of the South.
The more complex way to describe Lecce?
Baroque extravagance at its best. Sweet spiraled columns towering over you. Cute cherubs in creamy limestone squeezed into every corner. Piazzas and palazzi popping out every two seconds. Gorgeous gargoyles grinning and grimacing.
After changing hands between the Romans, Byzantines, Normans, and Sicilians over the centuries, Lecce’s architecture has been getting makeovers (especially in Baroque-style) from fresh young architects for, like, ever.
The result = wowza buildings oozing creativity that lights up your freshly-tanned face.
Read on to find out why we adore Lecce –– and why you will, too.
Is there such a thing as a Perfect Day in Florence?
As far we’re concerned, when it involves secret strolls through winding alleys, experiencing the city with Italian friends, and cups of wine on the steps of your new favorite piazza, the answer is yes!
If you had one summer day to make the most of being in this incredible city, here’s what we would suggest for you.