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Art and architect lovers be warned: there are so many treasures at Patria Palace luxury hotel in Lecce, it’s easy to forget the outside world. But there’s always the hotel’s panoramic Atenza restaurant with terrace in front of Basilica di Santa Croce to remind you, serving dishes that are a celebration of Southern Italy on a plate.

When it comes to the best places to visit in Southern Italy, Lecce is at the top of the list. When short on time, you want to make sure you are taking in the most of Lecce’s rich history and unique character that separates it from it’s counterparts in Puglia. Only one 5-star luxury hotel in Lecce can amplify those rare moments that travelers, such as myself, treasure: Patria Palace Hotel. One peep into the cozy luxury Lecce hotel Patria Palace with its flowered patio, elegant dining room, modest yet comfortable bedrooms, picturesque views from bedroom windows of Italian palazzos backed by the towering Basilica of Santa Croce, expansive rooftop terrace overlooking a breath-taking panorama of baroque architecture, churches, palaces, and more–one dazzled peep, and your stereotypical idea of coastal Puglia fades away. It’s these #PatriaMoments that will stay with you long after you leave Lecce.

For travelers like you and I, travel is about transformation and invention. But this evolution doesn’t only apply to people, it applies to a select and rare few hotels around the world as well–those are the hotels I seek to find. Accommodations like Sextantio Grotte della Civita in Matera and La Sosta di Ottone III in Cinque Terre. They thoughtfully build off of their past and creatively convert their history into attention-worthy accommodations. Patria Palace luxury hotel in Lecce has many unexpected past lives that were the building blocks of the 5-star luxury hotel you see today.

The 18th century Palace preserves all of its past lives. It oozes with elegance and opulence from when it was Marquis Anna Petrarolo’s noble residence. The elaborate and decadent Atenza restaurant and lobby echo with epic events of the past. It was a hospitable orphanage until the 1850s. It eventually evolved into Locanda Patria, meaning homeland, and was the first inn for travelers in Lecce. Today, Patria Palace Hotel blends it’s history–the art nouveau refinement of the noble residence and the spirit of hospitality of the innkeepers–into a magnificently appointed 5-star luxury hotel with 67 rooms and suites some with private terraces and city views. Patria Palace Hotel’s views of the Basilica di Santa Croce on one side and the historical Chiesa di Gesù, or Church of Jesus, on the other are storybook scenes of old.

We made our way to our double room and settled down in blissful contentment at Patria Palace Hotel. We were far from the masses of people below and their worldly cares. My mother and I had a modest room with a commanding view from our window of Basilica di Santa Croce, operatic in its scale and grandeur. The view from our window had me lingering in bed in the morning and took my breath out at night. It’s an exclusively unique #PatriaMoment that you’ll treasure with you throughout your journey in Puglia.

You’ll find hidden treasures in the small details as well. The yellow ceramic lighting fixtures in my room were custom-made for the hotel. Found in almost all Italian abodes, the ceramic dolls and knights you’ll see throughout the hotel are a traditional Southern Italian piece of art. They were created by the infamous Enza Fasano from Grottaglie, the hub spot of ceramic art in Southern Italy. The ceramic dolls were made in modern colors, but preserved the baroque style. Every piece of the hotel, which underwent a renovation in 2020, is enriched by details from various Italian designers and local artisans.

If you’re able to tear yourself from your window, the view from the rooftop terrace is worth the stop. It’s a moment you can treasure whether your a guest or not. Patria Palace Hotel’s rooftop terrace is open to guests and the public for aperitivo, or happy hour. It’s one of the only places where you can get a direct view of the sun setting behind the Basilica di Santa Croce. You can watch as the marble changes from a warm orange tint, to pink, red, purple, and finally black. The terrace is expansive and almost feels like a secluded garden with it’s many flowers and plants. On this floor, you can try and catch a peak of the private balconies available to guests staying in Suites, but the hotel does an excellent job giving them their privacy.

Patria Palace hotel is in the heart of Lecce. Making it the perfect base to explore the rest of the city. On our way out to snap a few pictures and grab dinner, the bellhop stops us. He asks us if we know where we’re off to for dinner. We were planning on winging it. Being a local, he gave us a recommendation to go visit his old classmate who runs a restaurant nearby. It’s this type of hospitality and open recommendation that Patria Palace Hotel offers. It creates treasured moments for you when short on time in Lecce. Unfortunately, his restaurant was full so we stopped next door and got a mixed seafood platter and orecchiette with ricotta and tomato sauce.

Morning is utter bliss and the set up at Atenza restaurant could not be more divine. If you fear that being in the heart of Lecce means loud noise and chaos from below, you’re wrong. Patria Palace Hotel feels like a hidden treasure within it’s own bubble. You wake up to the sound of Basilica of Santa Croce lightly ringing if anything. You can choose to eat an Italian or continental breakfast in the decadent restaurant or out on the patio. We chose the patio of course, peppered with greenery that makes it feel like an enclave away from the Baroque city of Lecce where you have an opulent view of Basilica Santa Croce.

The selection for breakfast is beyond extensive. It offers some of the finest pastries and local products Lecce has to offer. Of course, like the rest of the luxury hotel in Lecce, the set up for breakfast was thought out with such detail. Bell jars and glass containers displayed fruit, nuts, dried fruit, and cheeses. They had every type of fruit imaginable. The milk was served in glass containers in small tin buckets reminiscent of the farms in Southern Italy. A myriad of fresh juices were available for guests and for those looking to make a mimosa–they had champagne too.

I started my morning with my usual cappuccino followed by a pistachio-filled croissant. The pistachio croissant was perfectly soft, yet flaky. The pistachio cream made my eyes roll to the back of my head it was so good. I could have had 6 of them for breakfast! But I chose to try some of Patria Palace Hotel’s most talked about delicacies. Patria Palace Hotel is one of the rare few hotels in Lecce that offers a continental breakfast. My fellow Americans, I’m sure your eyes scanned that sentence twice when you read that! They are especially known for their poached eggs over toast, which I can attest were beyond exquisite. Our breakfast spread was fit for Marquis Anna Petrarola!

It was time to say ciao to Patria Palace Hotel and spend the remaining afternoon exploring the city of Lecce. There is the occasional tourist that reminds you that you are in the year 2020. But aside from that, every turn is some old doorway, rich mosaic pulpit, ancient wall, or remnant of Roman architecture to remind you of the glorious past. While we were off exploring treasures and unique moments throughout the city, I have to admit that the ones that stuck with me were the #PatriaMoments that Patria Palace Hotel offered. This is a true testament to how important a stay at Patria Palace Hotel is when choosing a luxury hotel in Lecce. The accommodation truly does make the difference.

Rooms start at $180 p/night.

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