LECCE (anc. Lupiae), a town and archiepiscopal see of Apulia, Italy, capital of the province of Lecce, 24 m. S.E. of Brindisi by rail. Pop. (1906) 35,179. The town is remarkable for the number of buildings of the 17th century, in the rococo style, which it contains; among these are the cathedral of S. Oronzo, and the churches of S. Chiara, S. Croce, S. Domenico, etc., the Seminario, and the Prefettura (the latter contains a museum, with a collection of Greek vases, etc.). Buildings of an earlier period are not numerous, but the fine portal of the Romanesque church of SS. Nicola e Cataldo, built by Tancred in 1180, may be noted. Another old church is S. Maria di Cerrate, near the town. Lecce contains a large government tobacco factory, and is the centre of a fertile agricultural district. To the E. 7! m. is the small harbour of S. Cataldo, reached by electric tramway. Lecce is quite close to the site of the ancient Lupiae, equidistant (25 m.) from Brundusium and Hydruntum, remains of which are mentioned as existing up to the i sthcentury. A colony was founded there in Roman times, and Hadrian made a harbour no doubt at S. Cataldo. Hardly a mile* west was Rudiae, the birthplace of the poet Ennius, spoken of by Silius Italicus as worthy of mention for that reason alone. Its site was marked by the now deserted village of Rugge. The name Lycea, or Lycia, begins to appear in the 6th century. The city was for some time held by counts of Norman blood, among whom the most noteworthy is Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard. It afterwards passed to the Orsini. The rank of provincial capital was bestowed by Ferdinand of Aragon in acknowledgment of the fidelity of Lecce to his cause. (T. As.)
See M. S. Briggs, In the Heel of Italy (1910).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)