Lecce is found right in the middle of the heel of the boot on the strip of land between the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas. The wonderful climate and mild winters make it perfect to visit all year round. It is known as The Athens of Apulia due to the intellectual importance of the town and although the changes that the city has undergone over the years are visible, it has maintained the urban structure and special charm characteristic to small ancient towns in Southern Italy. It is famous throughout Italy for the extraordinary baroque architecture that predominates with certain eccentric elements that are characteristic only to this area. Lecce is the Capital of the Salento region and boasts an incredibly rich and widely varied heritage of national monuments and buildings of historic importance. A large number of these are found in the historical centre of town and date back to the late 16th century, a period during which the Renaissance was edging into the baroque era. Other buildings date back to the beginning of the 18th century when local baroque style was at its maximum height. It was during this period that Lecce grew enormously, partly thanks to the work and donations of the Catholic Church that commissioned splendid, ostentatious religious buildings. Master builders and expert craftsmen were summoned in a competition to create the most original and creative elements possible for the time like the complex of Piazza del Duomo with its unique seminary. Also noteworthy are the Cathedral and bell tower and the Basilica of the Rosary, the Churches of St. Clare and St. Mathew, and the Basilica of the Holy Cross. Lecce remains one of the most intellectually active cities in the area and it’s critical position makes it easy to reach splendid seaside areas like Otranto and the Greece of Salento, Santa Maria di Leuca and Gallipoli.