Infobox Settlement
official_name = Lecce
established_title = Founded
established_date = 200s BC [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.]
nickname =
motto =
website = http://www.comune.lecce.it


seal_size = 80px

map_caption = Location of the city of Lecce (red dot) within Italy.
mapsize = 215px
subdivision_type = Region
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name = Apulia
subdivision_name1 = Province of Lecce
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Paolo Perrone
area_magnitude =
area_total_sq_mi =
area_total_km2 = 238
population_footnotes =
population_as_of = December 2004
population_total = 102,570 (54th)
population_urban =
area_urban_km2 =
area_urban_sq_mi =
population_metro =
population_density_km2 =350
population_density_sq_mi =
timezone = CET
utc_offset = +1
timezone_DST = CEST
utc_offset_DST = +2
latd=40 |latm=21 |lats= |latNS=N |longd=18 |longm=10 |longs= |longEW=E
elevation_m =
elevation_ft =
postal_code_type = Postal codes
postal_code = 73100
area_code = 0832
blank_name = Patron saints
blank_info = Saint Oronzo
footnotes =
:"This is about the Italian city of Lecce. For the football club, see U.S. Lecce."Lecce (Griko: "Luppìu", _gr. Alission) is a historic city in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce as well as the 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 "The Florence of the South". 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. [Herodotus, The Histories,7.170.1,"and made this their dwelling place, accordingly changing from Cretans to Messapians of Iapygia,"] 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" is the city's main export, because it is very soft and malleable, it is very good for sculptures. Lecce stone is a kind of limestone. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcarenite] [http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=19055530] Lecce is also an important agricultural centre, chiefly for its olive oil and wine production, as well as an industrial centre specialising in ceramic production. As of 2004, Lecce has a population of around 102,570 inhabitants.


According to legend, a city called "Sybar" existed at the time of the Trojan War, founded by the Messapii Italic tribe. Later it was occupied by the Iapyges and conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BCE, receiving the new name of "Lupiae".

Under the emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) the city was moved 3 km to NE, 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 conquered by the Byzantines 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 a fief of the Kingdom of Sicily from 1053 to1463, 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 fighting Germans during World War 2. Unfortunately they were delayed by the Allies, so it was too little too late.

Main sights

Lecce is known for its important Baroque monuments.

Churches and religious buildings

*The most important is the Church of the Holy Cross ("Chiesa di Santa Croce"). It was begun in 1353, but work was halted until 1549, to be completed only in 1695. The church has a richly decorated façade with animals, grotesque figures and vegetables, and a large rose window. Next to the church is the Government Palace, a former convent.
*The Duomo (cathedral) is also one of the most significant in Italy. It was originally built in 1144, and rebuilt in 1230. It was totally restored in the years 1659-70 by Giuseppe Zimbalo, who also built the 70 m-high bell tower. The latter has five floors and an octagonal loggia.
*The church of San Niccolò and Cataldo is an example of Italo-Norman architecture. It was founded by Tancred of Sicily in 1180. In 1716 the façade was rebuilt, with the addition of numerous statues, but maintaining the fine original portal. The interior has a nave and two aisles, with ogival arcades and a dome in the centre of the nave. The frescoes on the walls are from the 15th-17th centuries.
*The Celestines' Convent (1549-1695), ewith Baroque decorations by Giuseppe Zimbalo. The courtyard was designed by Gabriele Riccardi.
*The church of the Theatines (St. Irene, built from 1591)
*Santa Maria degli Angeli
*Santa Chiara (1429-1438), rebuilt in 1687

Other buildings

*The Roman Amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century and situated near Sant'Oronzo Square, was able to seat more than 25,000 people. It is now half-buried because other monuments were built above it over the centuries.
*The column holding the statue of Saint Oronzo (Lecce's patron) was given to Lecce by the city of Brindisi, because Saint Oronzo was reputed to have cured the plague in Brindisi. The column was one of a pair that marked the end of the Appian Way, the main road between Rome and southern Italy.
*The "Sedile" was built in 1592 and was used by the local council until 1852.
*The Castle of Charles V was built in 1539-49 by Gian Giacomo dell'Acaja. It has a trapezoidal plan with angular bastions. It is attached to the Politeama Greco Opera House, inaugurated on November 15, 1884.

Gardens and parks

* Orto Botanico di Lecce, a botanical garden.


Lecce is also home to Serie A football club U.S. Lecce.

Notable people

*Franco Causio (born 1949), footballer world champion 1982
*Ennio de Giorgi (1928-1996), mathematician
*Cloe Elmo (1910-1962), opera singer
*Marco Materazzi (born 1973), footballer world champion 2006
*Tito Schipa (1888-1965), tenor
*Antonio Amantea(1894-1983, WW1 Fighter Ace

Twin cities

*flagicon|Spain Murcia, Spain (since 2002)
*flagicon|Macedonia Skopje, Macedonia (since 2005)
*flagicon|Poland Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland (since 2006)
*flagicon|Australia Melbourne, Australia


External links

* [http://puglia-salento.blogspot.com/ Calendar of events in Lecce and Province] it
* [http://flickr.com/groups/lecce Photos of Lecce on flickr] it

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