Like A Local: Lecce, Italy
Like A Local
A common question that comes to my mind, and I'm sure yours as well, when I'm traveling is "what do the locals do?" I truly believe that everything and every place is worth seeing at least once. Whether it is something touristy or something off the beaten path, that something is special and more importantly new to you! There's so much we can learn by opening ourselves up to new adventures. So, of course, one of the best ways to do this is to live, explore, and experience a place "like a local"!
Lecce, South Italy
1. Your City's Name and Nicknames
1. Lecce, South Italy (also called 'The Florence of the South', but I don't agree because local style, history and way of living is so different than Florence!).
2. Salento, the territory that Lecce belongs to, is called Finis Terrae (in Latin, the land where the land ends... it sounds like a song, doesn't it?)
3. I call Lecce 'the very fashion bottom of the heel of the boot'
2. Favorite Places to Eat
For very local cuisine, go to local trattorie. One of them is Angiulinu, where you can have meat (in Lecce, they eat horses so if you don't like the idea, tell the waiter that you don't want to taste horse meat).
I'm a vegetarian and I have never had any kind of problems with food! There's so many vegetables cooked in so many different ways that you'll be amazed and full! I wrote more about local cuisine here.
In this trattoria, prices are very low (local food prices are low in general everywhere). You can have a very rich full dinner for 25-30 euros per person (wine included).
I also love Mamma Elvira (Via Umberto I, very central): it's a way in between a pub and a trattoria. They serve very (very very very) good wine and good local food, also served as tapas, if you feel like tasting more things without be to much filled up.
For God's sake, TRY LOCAL STREET FOOD, such as Rustico (puff pastry filled with cheese and tomato) and Puccia (bread stuffed with olives, tomato and sweet onion).
You can go with sweets as well, such as Pasticciotto (made with almond dough and cream) and Spumone (small ice cream looking like a cake)
3. Favorite Places to Study/Do Work
There are several places for co-working and where you can meet other people and socialize. I'll mention Officine Cantelmo, where I often go to work, and Manifatture Knos. The former is very central, in the heart of the old part of the city (Viale de Pietro).
The latter is a bit more in the outskirts (via Vecchia Frigole), but you can get there with the bus.
They are both free places to stay, you can ask for wi-fi, you'll find a bar and many other facilities; these places are often set for expositions and interesting happenings.
4. Favorite Places to Relax/Detox
I've been living in the central and oldest part of the city for 4 years; I find the local historic atmosphere very relaxing and pleasant to walk in. If you like the green, there is a small park called Villa Comunale. It's in the very heart of the city.
But the thing that I love most and that persuaded me to live here was the proximity to the sea. 10 minutes ride and you'll be close to one of the best seasides of the world. (I wrote my personal list of the 5 best world seasides here)
If you have the chance, rend an apartment leaning on the sea for a couple of days. You can find good and dreamy solutions here.
5. Favorite Photo Spot
There are subjects particularly loved by photographers. The best sets are the sea and the centuries old olive trees scattered all around the area. In the old city of Lecce you'll enjoy taking pictures of baroque churches and monuments and the scenographic effects they create in the streets the square in front of the Cathedral, at night and in the morning the puzzling details of the facade of the Church of Santa Croc.
6. One “Touristy” Thing in Everyone Actually Has to Visit
Over than the most famous seasides (Gallipoli, Otranto, Porto Cesareo, Leuca etc), the city hosts amazing old baroque churches. The Cathedral and the Church of Santa Croce will leave you breathless. When walk down the central streets you can't help stopping and photographing any corner of the way.
7. One Not So Well Known Spot People Should Definitely Visit
Go in the back streets of the old town and have a cup of tea in the old bars and coffees. Go to the theater (try to watch a theatre or jazz music performance at the Teatro Paisiello). Go and see an art exhibition or live concert at the Fondo Verri, in Via Santa Maria del Paradiso (old part of the city)
8. One Unique Fact
When locals want to say 'Frankly, I don't give a damn' or kind of, they may say 'Arcu de pratu' (this means, literarily, Arch of Prato - the name of a local arch in the oldest area of the center).
This is due to the fact that, once upon a time, the King Ferdinand of Borbon came to visit the city and a local nobleman showed him this very nice but small arch as if it was a masterpiece. The king was clearly indifferent to the monument, and so when locals wants to say that they really don't care about something despite of other people's enthusiasm, they remember this small past tale.
Actually one of the features of the locals, still very strong, is their attitude of admiring crazily their land and still being very critical about it, describing it as the only place in the world worth living (and actually, it is, but also as a land full of hopeless faults. This feature is the thing that generates what I love most, as I write at point 10.
9. Any Tips or Tricks on How to Navigate Your City
If you come, I suggest you to rent a car. You can do that at the Airport of Brindisi or Bari. While the local public transport from the airports to the cities is poor, the rent service is ok and very easy (and cheap)
10. What Do You Love Most About Your City
If you come here, you'll feel energy! Locals are very fond with their land and want strangers to feel this belonging. If you go to Florence, you'll love Florence. If you visit Lecce and the Salento area... you'll be a part of it. You'll miss it for the rest of your life as if it was your homeland.
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