Brindisi (Lecce), Italy
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Approximately 7 Hours
Lecce, city of historical and architectural treasures, aptly calls itself the Florence of South Italy. It is like an open-air museum with an abundance of churches and noble palaces, made more elegant and refined by the unique and sumptuous decorations carved out of Leccese stone. This particular stone is known for its sun-kissed color, evocative of clover honey. Lecce is set in the very heart of the Salento region -- the heel of Italy's boot -- and was founded by the Messapii pre-Roman population in the 5th century BC. It grew in importance after the Roman conquest in the 3rd century BC.
At Piazza St Oronzo you'll see the Roman amphitheatre built in the 2nd century AD. It once held up to 20,000 spectators. Close by is the Roman column that marked the end of the Appian Way.
Walk through the city center with your guide to discover a remarkable architectural style known as Leccese Baroque. From the 16th to the 18th century, Lecce flourished under a period of great splendor and was duly embellished with Rococo and Baroque monuments. The local fine-grained limestone was particularly easy to work, making the creation of decorative relief and delicate detail relatively easy.
You will visit the Santa Croce Basilica, which is sumptuously decorated and represents the triumph of Baroque art in Lecce. Nearby, admire the impressive façade of the Governor's Palace (the former monastery of the Celestine monks). Visit one of the finest and most impressive squares in southern Italy -- Piazza Duomo. Explore the elegant streets of Lecce adjacent to the square and you will discover that the typical local crafts of the town, such as papier-mâché or Leccese stone items, are traditional art forms here. The objects created in the artisans' workshops are crafted according to ancient traditions handed down from generation to generation.
Next, you will visit one of the most elegant palaces of Lecce, which will open its doors exclusively for you. The stunning Palazzo Morisco, another hidden gem of the old city center of Lecce, is a beautiful noble palace situated behind the Cathedral. The Counts of Lecce built it in the 14th century, 'borrowing' materials from the adjacent Roman theatre. Take a guided tour of the palace; then, you will enjoy a light lunch of typical local fare.
Please note: Wear comfortable walking shoes. Modest attire is required in churches; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered. On Sundays, and during other unforeseen closures, groups are not allowed inside the church. Guides will provide information outside and then guests will be allowed to enter independently. Shops in Lecce are closed on Sundays, on Monday mornings and on statutory holidays. Santa Croce Basilica is currently undergoing external renovation, expected to be completed in Spring of 2019. Due to the presence of the scaffolding and equipment, the façade will be completely obscured. The internal visit -- the most important part -- will take place as planned. Palazzo Morisco may be substituted with Palazzo Tamborino depending on tour capacity.
Use of an audio headset (included) will enhance your tour experience.
As an extension of the Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, this Mindful Living tour is designed to deliver the experience that contributes to mind and body wellness. You are invited to visit the on-board spa to speak to the Mindful Living coach to learn more about Dr. Weil and our holistic wellness program.