Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I heart Lecce...

As I sit here writing, I am pleased to say that I am well and truly content. Why? Because I didn't have to go to work today. And because it's 25 degrees outside. And because I just had a smashing weekend in one of the most beautiful places in Italy: Lecce. One of the most important cities in the region of Puglia, Lecce is full of beautiful baroque architecture, and has been named the 'Florence of the South'. Walking down the little streets and alleyways in amongst the beautiful sand coloured stone, it is absolutely impossible not to fall in love with the place. It's only 3.5 hours from my town near Foggia by train, and cost us less than 20 euros for one way. Absolute bargain if you ask me.

I wish MY balcony looked as nice as that...

In Lecce, we did a lot of walking. And a lot of eating. And a LOT of shopping (the Irish one bought 5 pairs of shoes. Enough said.) Shopping is something that, generally, we do well. And often impulsively. We stand and chat with shop assistants for ages. We haggle. We set off alarms in stores (well, that was just the Welsh one). We scowl at people when they push in front of us in the ice-cream shop queue. But above all, we BUY. Lecce is absolutely fantastic for shopping. You can find your usual collection of high street and designer stores in the new (i.e not so pretty) part of town, but it's in the old town where you will discover the real gems. We stopped at every single cute, little shop there was on the main street, and at every single cute little stall at the side of the main street. You can pick up some wonderful shoes and sandals (lots of them real leather. Don't you just love the smell of real leather?) and some unique pieces of jewellery. Behold, some of the gorgeous things we picked up (many for a very reasonable price.Yay!):

Funky colours right? I thought so. But on closer inspection you realise that it's actually made from teeny tiny rolled up BALLOONS. How cute! (mera06@katamail.com)

Made from old magazine pages and tied with string, this little bag held something VERY lovely indeed...

...a beautiful copper bracelet. The Irish one is mad for copper so practically bought the whole stall.

We discovered a fantastic little shop selling leather goods and beautiful notebooks. This one with butterflies caught my eye. But the leather bound journals are definitely on my wish list. If only I had some super important and interesting stuff to write in it... (email: cartoleriapantheonlecce@hotmail.it)

This will definitely help cover up my out of control hair when on the beach. And in class. And when mooching about in general.

Oh the SHOOOOES! These were available in all sorts of prints. The Welsh one went for flats...

...while the Irish one couldn't resist the heels! This shop  had a whole load of goodies inside, including print shoes and beautiful leather sandals, and the owners were very friendly. Will definitely be going back to this one!

And my favourite? This beautiful straw hat. It's probably meant for the beach, but I intend to wear it ALL the time...
Here are a couple more links to some of our favourite places to buy lovely things:

www.labottegadelcorso.it  for yummy Lecce goodies like pasta and biscuits
ladycheche@hotmail.it lovely lady with some lovely jewellery
erredibisandali.it get your awesome printed shoes and beautiful leather sandals at this place

So let's move on to the food. Oh, the food. Italian food is often too good to be true, as I have mentioned many times, and in Lecce we were definitely not disappointed. The Irish one had visited a lovely restaurant whilst on a previous trip to the city, and took us there on Saturday evening. The staff were attentive (not so usual in these parts I'm afraid) and the food was DELICIOUS. We were absolutely stuffed. Most, if not all of the wine on the menu was from the area, or at least Puglia, so we thought it rude not to sample some. We also had some lovely ice cream and some excellent salads. The weather was stunning, so we often sat on tables outside and gobbled down our lunch, before observing the extent of the Irish one's sunburn.
A definite winner.
mozzarella and tomato ravioli

Oh yes, we are ladies who lunch..

These tomatoes were simply too good for words.

When visiting the south of Italy, a trip to Lecce is an absolute must. The people are friendly, and the whole city has an incredibly relaxed feel to it. If there's anywhere in the south that fully embodies la dolce vita, it has to be Lecce. Go. Now. And bring back lots of shoes and jewellery to make all your friends terribly jealous ;) 

The main street in the old part of Lecce

p.s- We stayed at a little B&B called 'Corte dei Musco' which was perfetly located for exploring the old town, and had very helpful and friendly owners. www.bbcortedeimusco.it

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