This article is about the Italian city of Lecce. For the football club, see U.S. Lecce.
Not to be confused with Leece.
Comune di Lecce

Top left: Church of Santa Croce, Top right: Lecce Teatro Romano, Bottom left: Lecce Porta Napoli in Universita Street, Bottom middle: Saint Giovanni Cathedral in Perroni area, Bottom right: Lecce Cathedral in Duomo Square

Coat of arms

Location of Lecce in Italy

Coordinates: 40°21′N 18°10′E / 40.350°N 18.167°E / 40.350; 18.167Coordinates: 40°21′N 18°10′E / 40.350°N 18.167°E / 40.350; 18.167
Country Italy
Region Apulia
Province / Metropolitan city Lecce (LE)
Founded 200s BC[1]
  Mayor Paolo Perrone (PdL)
  Total 238 km2 (92 sq mi)
Elevation 49 m (161 ft)
Population (1 January 2015)
  Total 94,766
  Density 400/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Leccesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 73100
Dialing code 0832
Patron saint Orontius
Website Official website
Piazza del Duomo
Church of Santi Niccolò e Cataldo
Church of San Giovanni Battista
The Roman Amphitheatre

Lecce (Italian: [ˈlettʃe] or locally [ˈlɛttʃe]; Sicilian: Lecci, Griko: Luppìu, Latin: Lupiae, Ancient Greek: Ἀλήσιον) is a historic city of 94,766 inhabitants (2015) in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the third province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Apulia. It is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula, a sub-peninsula at the heel of the Italian Peninsula and is over 2,000 years old.

Because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city, Lecce is commonly nicknamed "The Florence of the South".[2] The city also has a long traditional affinity with Greek culture going back to its foundation; the Messapii who founded the city are said to have been Cretans in Greek records.[3] To this day, in the Grecìa Salentina, a group of towns not far from Lecce, the griko language is still spoken.

In terms of industry, the "Lecce stone" — a particular kind of limestone[4] — is one the city's main exports, because it is very soft and workable, thus suitable for sculptures. Lecce is also an important agricultural centre, chiefly for its olive oil and wine production, as well as an industrial centre specializing in ceramic production.


According to legend, a city called Sybar existed at the time of the Trojan War, founded by the Messapii. It was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, receiving the new name of Lupiae.

Under the emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) the city was moved 3 kilometres (2 miles) to the northeast, taking the name of Licea or Litium. Lecce had a theater and an amphitheater and was connected to the Hadrian Port (the current San Cataldo). Orontius of Lecce, locally called Sant'Oronzo, is considered to have served as the city's first Christian bishop and is Lecce's patron saint.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Lecce was sacked by the Ostrogoth king Totila in the Gothic Wars. It was restored to Roman rule in 549, and remained part of the Eastern Empire for five centuries, with brief conquests by Saracens, Lombards, Hungarians and Slavs.

After the Norman conquest in the 11th century, Lecce regained commercial importance, flourishing in the subsequent Hohenstaufen and Angevine rule. The County of Lecce was one of the largest and most important fiefs in the Kingdom of Sicily from 1053 to 1463, when it was annexed directly to the crown. From the 15th century, Lecce was one of the most important cities of southern Italy, and, starting in 1630, it was enriched with precious Baroque monuments. To avert invasion by the Ottomans, a new line of walls and a castle were built by Charles V, (who was also Holy Roman Emperor), in the first part of the 16th century.

In 1656, a plague broke out in the city, killing a thousand inhabitants.

In 1943, fighter aircraft based in Lecce helped support isolated Italian garrisons in the Aegean Sea during World War 2. Because they were delayed by the Allies, they couldn't prevent a defeat. In 1944 and 1945, B-24 long-range bombers of the 98th Heavy Bomber Group attached to the 15th U.S. Army Air Force were based in Lecce, from where the crews flew missions over Italy, the Balkans, Austria, Germany and France.

Main sights

Churches and religious buildings

Other buildings

Gardens and parks



Lecce experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). Winter's temperatures almost never go below 0 °C while in summers, which are very hot, temperatures can usually exceed 35 °C (95 °F) and in some cases reach 40 °C (104 °F).

Climate data for Lecce
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.0
Average low °C (°F) 4.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 52
Average precipitation days 6.7 7.1 8.2 8.1 6.9 7.3 5.8 5.1 7.7 7.5 7.2 6.6 84.2
Source: Italian Ministry of Defence[5]


Lecce is home to Lega Pro (the third highest football division in Italy) football club U.S. Lecce, who have played 15 seasons in Serie A. Since 1966, they have played at the 33,786-seater Stadio Via del Mare.


Statue of Lecce-born saint Filippo Smaldone in the city's cathedral.

Twin cities

The official sister cities of Lecce are:[6]


  1. The date given is for the Roman Republic named city Lupiae, dates for previous inhabitants such as the Messapii and Iapyges are lost to history.
  2. "Lecce: Italy". Lifeinitaly.com. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  3. Herodotus, The Histories,7.170.1,"and made this their dwelling place, accordingly changing from Cretans to Messapians of Iapygia,"
  4. Investigation on porosity change of Lecce stone
  5. Lecce-Galatina weather station Italian Ministry of Defence Retrieved 2 June 2009
  6. Lecce: "Gemellaggi", 3 November 2011, retrieved 16 August 2014
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Lecce.
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