Buon Natale from Lecce, Italy!
Lecce, Italy? Never heard of it! How did you end up there?
1) We wanted to spend the month of December in a place where Christmas is celebrated.
2) We wanted to be somewhere warm (Lecce is pretty far south.)
3) Let’s not kid ourselves, we came to Italy for the food.
Puglia in Southern Italy is the number 1 domestic tourist destination. The destination you have never heard of is Italia’s best kept secret.
Yes, there are miles of coastline beaches, but it’s peasant food – cucina provera is legendary.
Lecce is famous for its simple food: pasta, vegetables and legumes grown in the region and eaten in season. The local pasta specialty is orecchiette, the ear-shaped pasta pictured below, made from durum wheat flour and water (no eggs).
Another dish you won’t find anywhere but in Puglia is the ciceri e tria (pasta with chickpeas pictured above). We were very honored to be invited to the home of Valentina and Gianfranco, (the couple that manages our AirBnB rental) for this homemade specialty. She gave us the best meal of antipasti, pasta, meatballs and polenta with mushrooms, topped with fresh fruit, chicory and dolci.
Lecce is sometimes called The Florence of the South due to its large concentration of beautiful baroque buildings. Lecce has more than 40 churches and at least that many palazzi all built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Lecce is known for its artisans specializing in papier-mâché (cartapesto) creations.
In 1901 construction workers discovered a 3rd-century Roman amphitheater under the main piazza. When it was excavated in the 1930s they found a perfect horseshoe shaped amphitheater with seating for 15000. A smaller Roman theatre with well preserved frescos and mosaics was also discovered in the 1930s.
Next week when we Meet You in the Morning we will go sightseeing around the Salento in our Fiat 500.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!