This Is Your Sign to Take a Road Trip Through the Heel of Italy’s Boot

two cars parked in front of a building
This is Your Sign to Take an Italian Road TripCourtesy of Maserati

I almost hesitate to write this story, since part of the exquisite charm of the city of Lecce and its nearby coastal towns is that they feel decidedly less overrun with American tourists (*sheepishly raises hand*) than other Italian vacation destinations. But this magical place—sometimes called the “Florence of the South” thanks to its Baroque-style architecture and thriving art scene—is so lovely that I simply can’t keep it to myself.

With buildings and sidewalks crafted from a specific kind of limestone, the city feels like its awash in an incredible golden glow even long after the sun goes down. I may never have made my way there to explore its enchanted streets but for a too-tempting-to-pass-up invitation from the Maserati team. The iconic Italian luxury car company was about to release their new all-electric Grecale Folgore SUV and had found the perfect spot to show off its major power and elegant design: right here in the heel of Italy’s boot. My takeaway, after two days of roaming through shops and galleries, cruising down the coastline, and sipping espresso at roadside stops with views of sparkling turquoise water? I’ll definitely be back, and next time, I might not leave.


Fiermontina Luxury Home makes for a perfect home base. Conveniently located in the heart of Lecce, this 16th Century property is somehow minimalist and elaborate all at once. The rooms are wildly spacious, and seem even more so thanks to their cathedral-style high ceilings. With paintings and sculptures at every turn, it feels like you’re staying inside a welcoming, elegant museum that also happens to be the home of the chicest, wealthiest person you could ever meet. Other highlights include the straight-from-a-dream pool and a breakfast buffet to end all breakfast buffets.

Book It


Pick one day to take yourself on a walking tour through the winding streets of downtown Lecce to visit the stunning Basilica di Santa Croce, popping into clothing, décor, and gift stores along the way.

Then, you’ll want to hop in a car to drive southeast towards the coast and to the ancient (like, 12th-century ancient) seaside city of Otranto. Soak in a history lesson as you stroll through the walls of the Aragonese Castle, or grab a bite on the water and watch the boats come in.

a harbor full of boats
Madeleine Frank Reeves


Don’t miss Gimmi restaurant while you’re in Lecce. After all, how often do you get to dine on creative, seafood-forward dishes in a 15th century monastery? Oh, and here’s a tip: The tasting menu is a splurge, but on Tuesdays they offer a special forty euro deal for diners under thirty.

And About Those Wheels…

Maserati’s all-new electric Grecale Folgore looked right at home among the beautiful backdrops—no surprise, given that design is so central to the Italian team’s ethos. The interior, too, felt like pure luxury. I didn’t dare test out the “zero to sixty in four seconds” promise on the winding coastal roads (nervous driver here), but was blown away by how smooth and easy the ride was.

blue maserati on the road near water
Courtesy of Maserati

You Might Also Like