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Lecce and Modica Christmas to New Years


My husband and I are spending Christmas Day through the first few days of January in Italy, specifically the first 5 days in Lecce and the next 6 days in Modica. We are using these two cities as our two "home bases" from which to get to know these areas of Italy. We're seriously considering spending three months next winter in one or both of these areas, so this is somewhat of an exploratory trip. We have travelled to Italy three other times, focusing on northern and central Italy.

Because we will be there during this special holiday season, we want to do our homework prior to leaving. Please contribute your recommendations for how to spend our time. Historical sights? Natural wonders? Cuisine? Arts/Music? Specific Christmas/New Years Activities?

Thank you very much for sharing your insights, passions, recommendations, etc., with us. We have our international and domestic flights and accommodations reserved! Ready to go ...

Posted by
1368 posts

I lived in Southern Italy for four years, the town of San Michele Salentino. I was stationed at San Vito Air Base outside of San Vito dei Normanni and Brindisi. Home of the "S" bridge, at one point and may still be the worlds most dangerous bridge. Drive over at the speed limit, cautiously. I really enjoyed my time there. If you have the chance, and hopefully there won't be any snow there, it does occur. You should see the town of Alberobello, Matera has caves. Taranto's fishing port has fresh fish and they are known for their tableware with the Rooster design. Brindisi is a port town, ships and speed boats to Corfu Greece. Summer time full of students traveling across Europe. Also has the other Pillar that marks the Appian Way. Ostuni town is painted white, you can park on the edge of town and walk through the winding streets, takes you back in time, only room for bikes and small 3-wheeled vehicles we called Ape-carts (A-pee-Carts). Nice restaurants throughout the town and view of the Adriatic from the walls. A lot of the small towns on the Adriatic coast are summer towns, full of Europeans on summer holiday. Very few locals there, many have businesses in the other towns inland and open their second business up in the beach towns during summer. I really miss being there. I hope you have a great time.

Posted by
2124 posts

We spent a week in Lecce in October 2012, so while I don't have any relevant holiday experience, I do have some other thoughts I could share. It would be helpful to know a little more about your trip. Are you arriving in Lecce on Christmas Day? Will you be driving? Where are you staying ... hotel, b&b, apartment? In the old town?

I have not been to Modica, although we spent 3 weeks in Sicily last spring, loved it, and plan to go back.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you for replying! We would certainly appreciate hearing the thoughts you'd like to share about Lecce. Yes, we're arriving Christmas Day. We do not plan to rent a car but are open to this should it prove to be very useful. We're staying in the heart of the old town for 5 nights. Although we have researched "what to do" in the Puglia region, it's always a big bonus to learn from other travelers who have experienced this same area. Hopefully the holiday will not cause too many restaurants, etc. to close. We'll surely be hungry after a full day of travel.

We do plan to rent a car in Catania, Sicily, so we can explore beyond our base, Modica. The places to explore seem to be endless! What did you determine to be your highlights? What is on your "not-to-be-missed" list? We will be in Sicily 6 nights.

Thank you for continuing to share your knowledge and enthusiasm with us!

Posted by
2124 posts

You'll easily be able to fill your 6 night stay in Sicily. There have been several posts about Sicily lately on the Italy forum on this site which may be helpful.

Regarding Lecce -- I would highly recommend checking with your hotel about the availability of restaurants on Christmas Day & even the day after. Have them make reservations for you. Be aware that virtually everything in Lecce closes every day between about 2 and 6 pm, and restaurants don't reopen until 8 pm. You seriously cannot find anything to eat in the old town between 2 and 8 ... Not a pizza or sandwich or piece of cheese ... And that's on a normal day (not a holiday). So if you will be arriving hungry in mid-afternoon on Christmas Day, ask your hotel or b&b owner to stock your room with some food -- maybe some cheese, bread, fruit, wine -- to tide you over til dinner time.

We enjoyed a day trip to Gallipoli via train from Lecce. Be sure to purchase return tickets & verify the time for your return train to Lecce, as the Gallipoli station was unmanned when we were there. But don't let this dissuade you -- Gallipoli is a gorgeous little town with a great restaurant on the harbor where the fishermen come in.

We also really enjoyed a day trip to two wineries, with a company called Experience Path. Highly recommended. It was just my husband & myself with a guide & a driver.

In Lecce, if you like baroque churches, you'll be in heaven. There are well over 100 churches. Be sure to see the partially-excavated amphitheater too. Have fun!