Lecce, a.k.a. the “Florence of the South” for the dazzling Baroque architecture that adorns its old center, is the provincial capital, and one of Puglia’s most important cities. Just a half an hour south of Brindisi airport, it’s the ideal home base for exploring Southeastern Italy. The old city is walled off, and can only be accessed by passing through one of the three stone gates: “Porta Napoli”, a.k.a. the Triumphal Arch, “Porta Rudiae” and “Porta San Biagio”. A charming tangle of stone streets, inviting squares, hanging gardens and quaint establishments, the old center ranks at the top of places to visit. Be sure to check out the main square, Piazza Sant’Oronzo, which features an impressive 2nd –century Roman amphitheater, as well as a statue of the town’s patron saint perched atop a towering stone column. Just a few minutes’ away you’ll find the gorgeous Church of the Holy Cross, with its ornate Baroque façade and giant rose window, as well as Lecce Cathedral, known as the duomo, originally built in the mid-12th century.