image shows inside the Palazzo Bozzi Corso
I am just back from the gorgeous baroque city of Lecce in Puglia, right down in the heel of Italy. Even a couple of days there is enough to explore the winding streets crammed with cherubs, gargoyles and gremlins grinning down from every glorious church. And then there is a fascinating Roman ampitheatre in the central Piazza Sant'Oronto which is just as busy as it would have been in days gone by, these days packed with people enjoying the city's signature caffe in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla (espresso with ice and almond milk) at the Caffe Alvino and diving into the pretty shops.
Every day at noon local tenor Tito Schipa sings his heart out here providing a musical and uplifting start to the afternoon's sightseeing.
Above:Baroque palace in Lecce
My stay in Lecce included visiting two fabulous hotels, both owned by Parisian Giacomo Fiermonte. La Fiermontina Urban Resort is a luxurious, elegant boutique hotel with 16 distinctive rooms and suites built around a 17th century private home filled with art and custom design furniture reminiscent of 1920’s Italy. Opened in 2015, it was lovingly converted from a former masseria over ten years by Giacomo Fiermonte as a tribute to his glamorous grandmother Antonia Fiermonte and her two artist husbands. The hotel has a pretty courtyard with tables and chairs surrounded by the olive trees ideal for enjoying a glass of local wine watched over by those oversized sculptures. Upstairs is a lounge with books piled on glass shelves perfect for relaxing after a day sightseeing.The hotel has its own museum around the corner which tells the story behind the property There are 16 rooms including four suites. Each has high star pinnacle ceilings, huge beds with crisp white linen and modern furniture designed uniquely for the hotel
Above: La Fiermontina Urban Resort.
Sister property to this hotel is the fabulous Palazzo Bozzi Corso,one of the most stunning properties in this part of Italy. The grand palace in which it is housed was built in 1775 by Gabriele Bozzi Corso and later passed to another aristocratic family. Giacomo Fiermonte purchased the palace and transformed it into an all-suite, super luxurious, elegant hotel. It opened its doors last year As at sister property La Fiermontina French interior design company Charles Philippe & Christophe have worked with strong colours, stylish furniture and a mix of antique and contemporary paintings, sculptures and objets d’art. All the rooms have high ceilings with fascinating touches that create conversation pieces. Anne Filali, daughter of the inspirational Antonia Fiermonte and mother of Giacomo, created the Strawberry Fields Garden memorial in New York’s Central Park with her friend Yoko Ono. The Palazzo Bozzi Corso has the John & Yoko Suite as one of its Wellness suites. Measuring 645 square feet it is furnished with a pop-art feel and features a shared roof terrace and sauna. The Palazzo Bozzi Corso has an enchanting secret garden at the back of the property to enjoy drinks or a meal prepared by the private chef. There is an honesty bar in the hotel which guests can use at any time.
Above: Palazzo Bozzi Corso
Dont miss in Lecce:
Breakfast in Lecce: Usually fruit, coffee and a pasticiotto, a custard pastry made here for hundreds of years
Ampitheatre: The Roman ampitheatre in Piazza Sant'Oronzo was built around the 2nd century and sometimes hosts concerts
Piazza del Duomo: located in the central square, it is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente.
Basilica of Santa Croce:Fabulous Baroque church completed in 1695
The Castle of Charles V: First built in the Middle Ages and streengthened by Charles V in 1539