Here you can rediscover the beauty of very ancient traditions, passed from generation to generation and still popular in the daily life of the inhabitants of Lecce. From the local craftmanship to the typical cuisine: let yourself be fascinated by all the expressions of the Salento culture!
The soundtrack of your journey will be the pizzica salentina, folk music, to which fascinating beliefs and popular legends are connected. It is so overwhelming, that you cannot stop yourself from dancing at its rhythm. Try do not get tired! You have to saddle up again to continue your journey at the discovery of the secrets of the Florence of the South with the bike rented with Slow Active Tours.
Culture and traditions in the alleyways of the old town
Lecce is a quiet town with a mild climate all year long and an always pleasant atmosphere. Visiting the old town is like dipping in a magical place where time seems to have stopped. Shapes, colours, scents: everything contributes to evoke a timeless past.
The artisan workshops make the ancient jobs of the local tradition still alive: there are many typical shops with their workshop where you can buy various handmade objects directly by the producer.
Lecce is the capital city of the papier-mâché and, obviously, there are many workshops of papier-mâché masters, where artifacts (which are true artworks) are realised according to traditional techniques. Papier-mâché is used for the realization of objects of various uses: from the crib statues to the wall art, from accessories to items of design. Museo della Cartapesta is dedicated to this art and is located inside the Castle of Charles V, in the nearby of Piazza Sant’Oronzo.
Another typical artisan tradition of this territory is the pietra leccese: it is a particular calcareous material which is perfect to be processed and is the main raw material of Lecce Baroque. Palaces and churches owe their decorative richness right to the pietra leccese art. But not only: this material is really versatile and, besides the construction sector, is used also for the realization of furnishings, utensils and souvenirs.
Souvenirs made by terracotta are also very popular: goliardic whistles, crib characters, tiles and “pignate” for cooking (they are particular terracotta pots used for the preparation of traditional receipts directly on fire). The Cummari salentine, reproductions in various sizes of farmer’s wives with wide coloured skirts, that recall the long farming tradition of this land, are also increasingly popular.
Another idea for a souvenir from Lecce is a tambourine: the main instrument that gives the rhythm to pizzica in Salento. It is available in many sizes and colours and there is the opportunity to personalize it with writings and paintings. It is a gift that will be appreciated by adults and kids!
Artworks made in olive tree wood are niche products, but, anyway, also very popular. Olive tree, even though it has been affected by the bacterium of Xylella, still is the undisputed symbol of Salento countryside. Its charm is not only ornamental, but it is also related to the centuries-old production of olive oil.
Olive tree wood is the material employed for the realization of the traditional looms in Salento. Weaving, indeed, boasts a long and timeless culture in the Heel of Italy. Still today, you can find precious laces realised with ancient techniques, passed from mother to child from generations.
What to eat in Lecce: gastronomy and street food
Pasticciotto leccese is a typical local speciality, but today it can boast an international resonance, thanks to the unique taste of a friable pastry that hides a creamy heart. The original recipe requires a filling of pastry cream, but today different variants are available: sour cherry, chocolate, lemon, pistachio and many other delicious tastes!
Start your day in Lecce with a breakfast based on pasticciotto and iced-coffee with almond milk: a must for local people and for tourists!
Another sweet tradition of Lecce is the almond paste, from which many sweets are made, especially the so called “paste secche” and Easter sweets. In the convent of San Giovanni Evangelista, this tradition has been carried on by the Benedictine nuns, who prepare almond paste sweets according to a very ancient recipe dating back to the 18th century. On the occasions of Easter or Christmas, people form long lines to buy these delights, made by the expert hands of the nuns.
The sweet delights for the palate of tourists visiting Lecce do not end here: the quince jelly, said cotognata, is another typical sweet of the South of Italy made from quince. It is a jam with a hard texture appreciated by adults and kids!
About salty specialities, we cannot miss a mention to the typical frisa salentina, a sort of hard bread, softened in the water and traditionally dressed with oil, tomatoes, salt and oregano. This product can be seasoned according to your taste and is perfect for a quick but satisfying dinner.
Among the local bakery products there are also friselline (smaller frise), ideal for breaks and aperitifs, tarallini and pizzi, that are pieces of bread dressed with vegetables and olives (watch out for the pits!).
You cannot leave Lecce without having tasted the traditional rustico: a warm dough filled with tomato and béchamel, the symbol of Lecce gastronomy!
Bike tour in Lecce: our tips
Taking advantage of the bike rental in Lecce, you will have the opportunity to explore this splendid town of the South of Italy in complete freedom. We will give you useful tips about the attractions to visit and will help you customizing your itinerary according to your preferences.
We also offer to you the possibility to book an interesting guided tour of Lecce with professional guides. Moreover, we suggest you a papier-mâché workshop, to discover the ancient arts of this city.
Rely on Slow Active Tours for a complete and safe experience: with our advice, our equipment and our assistance your Lecce bike tour will be pleasant and comfortable!