Colleen Rothschild Skincare – Products You Need To Know About

On set, music video shoot.

I have been enthralled with skincare, and in particular really good skin care for as long as I can remember. For 30 years my career has been based in creating really incredible skin. I am a makeup artist, primarily working in the entertainment industry and fashion, magazine beauty director, on camera beauty specialist, and for a time I was taught a pro makeup artistry program. The key to makeup looking fantastic is to use really fantastic skincare.

On set with Sadie Robertson for Luca Magazine

Most of us aren’t living our lives on camera, but still want our skin to look beautiful and to slow down the aging process. This post is a breakdown of products I am using from the award winning Colleen Rothschild Skincare line. I’ve been using them since March of this year and love them. Most people don’t want to use as many products as I do, and that’s fine. If this list feels overwhelming to you just look at the essentials, which I will list below.

This post contains affiliate links.

Skincare Basics: The Essentials

Everyone needs a really good cleanser (definitely read what I have written below about cleansers) a moisturizer that meets their skin’s needs, and an eye cream. Those are your most basic skincare products. To these we add ancillary products that boost the efficacy of the basics and also deal with some very specific skin needs and conditions. These products include exfoliators, masks, serums, oils and other deep treatment products.

My Colleen Rothschild Skincare Products

The following are products from the Colleen Rothschild Skincare line that I have been using since March 2020. I have found them to be very high performance, which means you see results very quickly. They are also very concentrated, so a little goes a very long way. It is easy to see why this line is award winning. I’m pretty sure if you try them you will fall in love with them too.

My current Colleen Rothschild products.
I will be adding in more with my next order.

Why The Right Cleanser Is Crucial

After decades working as a makeup artist I can tell you unequivocally that the main reason I see with problem skin issues is using the wrong cleanser. Mostly I see people stripping their skin with cleansers that are too drying. When your cleanser is too drying, like many foaming or soap-like cleansers, it creates a cycle of stripping away too many of the skin’s essential oils followed by the skin panicking and creating more oil or sebum to correct the problem. As this goes on you see dry surface, too much oil and often excess congestion and break outs.

The drying of the skin also causes breakouts as the pores get blocked by dead skin cells. On top of that cleansers that are too drying often make the skin irritated. Then the situation gets compounded because we start adding in anti-irritant products, products for removing excess oil, clarifying products to treat the blackheads and break outs, and on it goes.

I always find that when I get a client to change her cleanser, be it a celebrity, a business woman or a bride, like magic the skin clears up.

Radiant Cleansing Balm

What I really love about this cleanser is that it does multiple things all at once and is extra gentle on the skin. It dissolves makeup and cleanses your skin in one step. You rub a small amount of balm in your (dry) hands to warm it up, then massage into the skin. You’ll notice it feels really lovely and is nice and emollient, so it glides over the skin nicely without rubbing or pulling.

Award Winning Cleansers Colleen Rothschild Radiant Cleansing Balm
Radiant Cleansing Balm

Once you’ve worked it through the skin you rinse the muslin cloth it comes with in hot water, and either lay it over the face for a moment for a spa like treatment or just go directly to gently lifting away the cleanser with the cloth. Your skin immediately feels soft and supple.

The Radiant Cleansing Balm is good for all skin types. See all Colleen Rothschild cleansers here.

RELATED POST: ESSENTIAL MASKS FOR SUMMER

Treatment Products

One of the keys to radiant, youthful skin is your choice of treatment products. These are typically serums and oils, mostly specific to your skincare concerns. I tend to mix these up a bit, layer them when I feel like it or sometimes even use them alone without a moisturizer, depending on how my skin is that day. Just remember dry skin looks like aged skin. The fountain of youth is directly linked to the serums, oils and moisturizers you use on a daily basis.

Colleen Rothschild Treatment Products

I use the treatment products specific to my skin concerns – aging and looking dry and dull. You can see the full line of treatment products available here.

Age Renewal Super Serum

Age Renewal Super Serum goes on before moisturizer, morning and night. You only need one small pump (about the size of a pea), massaged into your face and neck. It fights the six main signs of aging: dehydration, loss of elasticity, loss of radiance and tone as well as the texture becoming less supple and fine lines and wrinkles appearing.

Colleen Rothschild Age Renewal Super Serum

The Age Renewal Super Serum has plant extracts, collagen boosters, vitamins, amino acids and peptides, all designed to make your complexion radiant and youthful.

Bottom line, you instantly feel your skin soften. This product is just glorious for anyone wanting to stave off signs of aging and/or keep their skin beautifully hydrated. It is very concentrated so you don’t need much at all. If you feel that you don’t want to use a serum because you have a shiny or oily t-zone just use this on your cheeks, neck and decolletage. See the serum here.

Face Oil Number 9

I am a huge fan of facial oils and use them every day. I use Face Oil Number 9 every morning, before moisturizer. It has an almost dry finish to it so you don’t look shiny/oily. A great makeup artist trick is to apply a drop of oil prior to applying foundation so the skin has that really creamy, radiant look to it.

Colleen Rothschild Face Oil Number 9

This is a combination of 9 transformative oils that work together to boost moisture and make your skin extra radiant. It also protects the skin from oxidation and pollutants and the appearance of age spots and wrinkles, Face Oil Number 9 gives extra nourishment, supports hydration and has no greasy residue. You can see the product here.

Once again this is a very concentrated product so you only need a drop. If I am using both the serum and an oil I apply the serum first.

RELATED POST: HOW TO GET SUPER SHINY HAIR FOR SUMMER

Retinol Supreme Night Oil

When you see the word retinol always think night time. Retinols neutralize free radicals, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, blur imperfections like acne scars, stimulate collagen and accelerate the turnover of cells. When we can help out the cell renewal process we get smoother, lovelier skin, more quickly.

Our bodies do most of their cell renewal work while we sleep, which is the main reason we need to use retinols at bedtime. The other night time reason is that they make our skin more sensitive to UV rays.

In the old days using Retin-A was like taking a sandblaster to your skin. It was way too aggressive for most of us mere mortals, leaving skin looking raw.

The newer generation of retinols are much more gentle. Retinol Supreme Night Oil takes all the benefits of retinols and combines them with a soft, gentle, moisturizing plant based oil.

Colleen Rothschild Retinol Supreme Night Oil

This beauty sleep essential takes the highest concentration of stabilized retinol (healthy skin renewal) and mixes it with highly potent Vitamin C to counteract the chaos caused by free radicals and environmental toxins (pollutants = super aging) and nine plant based oils that combat the irritation and flaking normally associated with retinols.

In other words you wake up with gorgeous, soft, radiant skin rather than the parched, irritated skin normally associated with retinols. It’s like magic.

After cleansing apply 1 mini pump to face, neck and décolletage, avoiding the eye area. See Retinol Supreme Night Oil here.

Retinol Supreme Eye Serum

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The first place you see signs of aging is the delicate area around your eyes. This is also the first area on your face to show signs of dehydration. This night time eye serum counteracts the look of stressed, tired, wrinkled eyes and rejuvenates the skin around the eye area. It has an ingredient called Saloprine 8 that increases moisture levels 6000% if used nightly for 28 consecutive nights.

Retinol Supreme Eye Serum and Complete Eye Cream

Retinol Supreme Eye Serum also firms the skin around your eyes and reduces the appearance of bags.

You really only need one drop per night put on your ring fingers and dabbed along the orbital bone. (Your ring fingers have the least amount of tension, so are the gentlest to apply eye serums and eye creams with. Always start at the outer corner of the orbital bone and gently tap inward toward your nose.)

Colleen Rothschild Beauty

Complete Eye Cream

This one addresses the most common enemies of eye aging: wrinkles, fine lines, under-eye circles, puffiness and loss of elasticity. What I love is that it feels lightweight, so it isn’t dragging the skin below your eyes. It absorbs nicely too so your concealer won’t go sliding off. Read more about it here.

Moisturizers

Colleen Rothschild Moisturizers

You can’t have glowing, radiant, dried out skin. If you want your skin to look gorgeous it has to be really well hydrated and moisturized. My skin tends to get really dry and I live in the desert which makes it worse, so for me radiant skin takes work.

I use the treatment products listed above paired with really great moisturizers. In the winter I like to use a heavier moisturizer, in the summer one that is more lightweight.

Sheer Renewal Cream

I actually got this one to take to Italy with me this summer. It is the perfect travel companion, lightweight enough to not look greasy on hot, humid days but still powerful enough to keep skin looking gorgeous. I always think your best accessory for summer is glowing, beautiful skin. The plan was to be flashing said skin under Italian skies right now, but here we are instead in the super-furnace also known as the Arizona summer.

And here is where it gets interesting. Sheer Renewal Cream is a very weightless product, not something you would normally associate with an intense, dry heat. And yet it gives my skin ample hydration and moisture. It has a slightly powdery finish to it, so if you’re not in the mood for foundation (I’m not in the mood for foundation) your skin doesn’t have that bare, slimy look to it. I really love this moisturizer.

Extreme Recovery Cream

As far as product names go this one may put you off, but stay with me here. Extreme Recovery Cream is fantastic for skin that needs some major hydration help but is also just gorgeous for regular/normal skin. I’ve been using it at night – it’s really concentrated so you only need a tiny amount.

Colleen Rothschild Extreme Recovery Cream

I have also used it on photoshoots for really luscious looking skin. It definitely gives maximum hydration but as with all of the Colleen Rothschild products I have tried it doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy. The finish on this one is quite velvety, so it is lovely under makeup if you’re wearing it during the day.

I love intense night time moisturizers but hate anything that leaves a film on the skin and then gets on your pillowcase. Extreme Recovery Cream absorbs into your skin and leaves no residue on your pillows. This is another really beautiful product that you all in love with immediately.

The Discovery Collection

If you’re not sure where to start you can always try the Discovery Collection. The collection gives you travel sizes of 6 major products: Radiant Cleansing Balm, Dual Enzyme Polish, Clarifying Detox Mask, Sheer Renewal Cream, Extreme Recovery Cream and Face Oil Number 9. This way you can try a variety of products without making a huge financial commitment.

Colleen Rothschild Discovery Collection

I planned on taking this kit with me to Italy this summer – it is the perfect travel kit.

What’s Next?

In my next order I will add the Brightening Mask, Dual Enzyme Polish (to exfoliate) and the shampoo. If you go on the website and find an item you want is out of stock, hang in there! They seem to restock relatively quickly. The line has an absolute cult following so the most popular products do run out of stock from time to time but the company is really good about getting them back in in a timely manner. Once you have used any of these products you will see why their fans are so incredibly loyal.

Photography for this story: Keith Pitts

Colleen Rothschild Beauty

Summer Essentials: You Need To Know About These Masks

Normally right now I would be posting travel based product stories to align with spending the summer in Italy leading Glam Italia Tours.

This is the first summer in the past decade spent here in the U.S.and I had forgotten just how hot and dry the weather is here in Arizona! I wish I was frolicking around the Italian beaches – I was supposed to be in Puglia (the Italian Maldives) as well as multiple trips up and down the Amalfi Coast with my tour groups, but now I doubt I will even see the ocean this summer.

Last summer at the beach in Southern Basilicata.
The Greek Islands are somewhere out there in the distance

Hot sunny days, sea water, chlorine and just being out and about in the sunshine all strip moisture from your hair and your skin, so masques become an essential part of your summer routine.

I normally do a hair mask and a face mask once each week, more if my skin needs extra help. I had bought the following two masks with a view to taking them with me to Italy. Instead this summer they are getting used here at home.

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post or a paid advertisement. It is also not a product review. I have been using these products for the past 3 months and am obsessed with them. This post does contain affiliate links.

Intense Hydrating Mask

Your best accessory for summer is a glowing, gorgeous complexion. That means keeping your skin exfoliated and hydrated.

I am so excited about the award winning Colleen Rothschild products. I have used them for 3 months now, so have a good idea of their quality and efficacy. At this time I haven’t used the exfoliating products but plan on trying them with my next order. You can check out the Colleen Rothschild exfoliating products here.

Colleen Rothschild Intense Hydrating Mask

I have however been using the Intense Hydrating Mask every week, and consider it a summer skincare essential. Here’s why: it is like a long, cool drink of water for your skin. It gives amazing hydration, relieves tired/dry/rough skin and gives you a radiant glow.

Unlike hydration masks that leave your skin feeling slimy or sticky, this one soaks in and leaves the surface of the skin feeling supple. Which brings me to my next point: were I traveling this summer I would wear the Colleen Rothschild Intense Hydrating Mask on the plane. I never wear foundation on long flights, opting instead for a moisturizing mask or reapplying moisturizer during the flight. Many hydration masks are not viable because they either don’t provide enough moisture or they are just too sticky and make your skin feel dirty.

Another reason I consider this a summer essential is that it’s a great rescue product. If you accidentally spend too much time in the sun, if wind or salt water or chlorine have sucked the life out of your skin and have left it feeling parched and/or irritated (which happened to me last week) this mask works wonders, instantly soothing and re-hydrating your skin.

It applies like a moisturizer, so you can put it on and go to the store – you don’t have to stay in hiding while it is working. You can leave it on for 15 minutes or do my favorite which is leave it on all night. It is very concentrated too, so a little goes a long way.

This is a really beautiful hydrating mask. Find the Colleen Rothschild Intense Hydrating Mask online here.

Colleen Rothschild Beauty

Quench and Shine Restorative Mask

I actually discovered this entire line because of this hair mask/restorative deep treatment. You can use it weekly or every time you shampoo. Quench and Shine Restorative Mask is my absolute favorite hair treatment product.

Best Hair Masks Colleen Rothschild Quench and Shine Restorative Mask

This mask is good for all hair types as it doesn’t weigh your hair down. It gives you a really nourishing deep conditioning treatment and makes your hair really shiny and bouncy. It also helps frizzy hair. My hair gets really frizzy in humidity so this mask is a godsend. On top of all the benefits it does for your hair (you can read about them here on the website) it smells heavenly.

I find the more I use it the more I love it. It makes my hair really soft and super shiny.

Colleen Rothschild Beauty

Pro Tip: before you swim, especially in salt water or chlorine, wet your hair with tap or bottled water then comb through some Quench and Shine Restorative Mask. It fills the cuticles of your hair, protects your color and stops your hair getting dry or crunchy. At the end of the day you will be amazed at how gorgeous your hair feels!

You can find Quench and Shine Restorative Mask online at ColleenRothschild.com

Colleen Rothschild Hair Travel Set
The perfect travel kit for summer

Colleen Rothschild has a fabulous hair travel kit with travel sizes of their shampoo, Quench and Shine Restorative Mask and the Smooth and Shine Hair Serum. If you are not traveling or going to the beach this summer it is a great way to try the products out!

I am posting several Colleen Rothschild product reviews this month as they have a BOGO summer sale happening all of June. Just use the code BOGO50 at check out.

10 Fabulous Things You Must Do In Lecce

This week I was supposed to be in Lecce.

I had a Glam Italia Tour booked for 10 days in Puglia and was really looking forward to finally getting back to the heel of Italy’s fabulous boot and showing my group just how completely incredible this region is.

Lecce (pronounced Lech-eh) is a beautiful city down low in the heel of the boot. In the 16th century under Charles V it was an economic powerhouse, the second city of the south after Naples.

Saturday afternoon in Lecce

Built from distinctive Lecce stone it is often referred to as the Florence of the South due to its concentration of beautiful historic buildings. In some ways I can see the comparison. Centuries old golden sandstone buildings and narrow streets that lead into pretty piazzas, but when you look a little closer they really are quite different. The renaissance facades of Florence are replaced with the baroque of southern Italy. Lecce doesn’t get a fraction of the tourism Florence does, so by contrast feels deliciously empty, almost as though you have stumbled upon a secret. Wandering around Lecce I am always stunned that I get to be here in the middle of this visual banquet and have it mostly to myself, with very few tourists around.

An overcast afternoon in Lecce in the late fall

Which brings me to me next point. Lecce is not a city to race around checking items off a list. Although this is a 10 Things You Must Do In Lecce post, I prefer to look at it as things to try and not miss. Lecce is a town to wander and experience at a slow southern Italian pace. You need to breathe it in and savor it. There are museums and plenty of churches but this is a place to take a stroll to burn off a long lazy lunch with an incredible view, before finding a hidden piazza to stop for an early evening aperitivo.

RELATED POST: 10 Reasons You Need To Visit Puglia

10 Things You MUST Do In Lecce

Here are 10 things not to be missed in Lecce. Jut do them all at a leisurely pace.

1. Take Part In Caffe Life

Pasticciotto

The delicious traditional Pasticciotto pastry from Lecce, Puglia, Italy
image via buonissimo.it

Start your day with the most Leccese of pastries, the pasticciotto. This is a custard-like cream filled short crust pastry. Ridiculously delicious (and be warned, very filling) the crust is traditionally made with lard instead of butter, so is both moister and softer than you expect.

Ideally you eat pasticciotto piping hot, fresh out of the oven.

Lecce Coffee

Caffe in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla

Along with your pasticciotto you need to order a coffee specific to Lecce, caffe’ in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla. This is espresso over ice with almond milk. I’m not sure if it’s the Leccese water that makes it so different, but try as you might to replicate it at home it is impossible to capture the exact same taste.

The ideal place to enjoy your pasticciotto and iced coffee is Caffe Alvino in the town’s main square, Piazza Sant’ Oronzo. This piazza is huge and even without its main attraction is a fabulous spot to experience the heart of Lecce. Sit outside and take in the view.

2. The Roman Amphitheater

The Roman amphitheater in piazza Sant’ Oronzo, Lecce

Piazza Sant’ Oronzo’s main attraction is an extremely well preserved Roman amphitheater. For centuries it was buried under buildings here in the heart of the city, only discovered at the beginning of the 1900’s when construction began on a new bank.

Only the lowest floor of the amphitheater remains.
It would have been a multi level construction.

The amphitheater is below current ground level. It was built in the 2nd century A.D during the reign of one of my favorite emperors, Hadrian.

Tunnels below the amphitheater seating

You can wander through the passages below the stadium seating, where the amphitheater is still partially buried.

Below the amphitheater in Lecce

Ancient images on the walls tell us this was a place for gladiator fights with bulls, lions, bears and people. It is estimated the amphitheater could hold between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators.

Concerts are still held in the amphitheater. If you are ever lucky enough to be here when the evening light turns everything golden and the orchestra strikes up in the amphitheater, I promise you the memory will be burned into your brain forever.

The Roman Amphitheater in Lecce, ready for a later summer evening concert.

RELATED POST: 10 Things You MUST Do In Matera

3. The Sedile

Next to the Amphitheater is the Sedile, a majestic stone building that was once Lecce’s town hall. Built in 1592 this beautiful cuboid structure is softened with both lower level and upper level arches.

The Sedile in Lecce

At one time the town’s armory was kept on the upper floor and the mayor would hold hearings on the lower floor. The square was called Piazza dei Mecanti at that time and was the heart of Lecce life.

The Sedile by night

Not only the seat of the town hall it was also the hub of local trade, the main stage for the town’s religious processions and the site of riots and military battles, with no one knowing there was an amphitheater hidden below their feet.

Mosaics in piazza Sant’ Oronzo, Lecce

Nearby on top of a 30 foot column Lecce’s patron saint, Sant’ Oronzo (St Orontius) watches over the piazza that was renamed in his honor. Also look for the huge mosaics of Lecce’s coat of arms.

4. Museo Faggiano

I’ve added this one because it is like one of those crazy Italian dreams where you discover ancient ruins under your house. Which is exactly what happened here.

Museo Faggiano, Lecce
image via Atlas Obscura

This was a private home until 2001 when a plumbing problem forced the owner had to dig through the floor. Low and behold they discovered ruins dating back 2500 years!

Museo Faggiano
image via pugliamusei.it

You can do a self guided tour and see underground cisterns, secret passageways, tombs and escape routes. It all dates back to pre-Roman times. Between 1000 and 1200 it was a Knights Templar house, then became a convent for Franciscan nuns until the 1600’s

RELATED POST: THE TRULLI OF ALBEROBELLO

5. Buy Cartapesta

Cartapesta, the art of papier mache is a specialty of Lecce that dates back to the 17th century. The city built all these amazing churches that needed decorating, but there wasn’t the time or the money to make things in marble. So they had to use the products they had access to and came up with this incredible art form.

One of the most famous cartapesta workshops in Lecce is Cartapesta Claudio Riso


This was during a time known as the counter-reformation when Catholicism was under attack by the protestant church. The churches in Lecce needed to keep the congregation faithful by pulling at their heart strings. The artisans were able to create emotion in the faces of their figurines, and then paint them to look as if they were alive.

Cartapesta at Claudio Riso in Lecce


The craft has been passed down through the centuries and today you can still buy handmade cartapesta in Lecce. It really is quite sensational, so you should definitely wander into some of the stores and find yourself a treasure to bring home.

Cartapesta in the Claudio Riso store in Lecce

You can read more about Cartapesta here.

6. The Roman Theater

I discovered this one on my first trip to Lecce while just wandering the narrow streets weaving their way up from the Porta Rudiae. I turned a corner into one of the baroque alleys surrounded by 18th century palazzos and there it was. It was actually quite a shock because I didn’t know it existed. An almost perfectly intact 1st century Roman theater.

the Roman theater in Lecce

This theater is quite small, approximately 40 meters in diameter, but in its time is thought to have held up to 4000 spectators. Fragments of clay decoration dating back to the Augustan period have been found (27 B.C – 14 A.D.) along with marble statues from the Antonine era (96 A.D – 192 A.D) which are now kept in the Roman Theater Museum.

The theater was only discovered in 1929 and really is in remarkable condition. You can view it from the street or go inside from the entrance on via degli Ammirati. I suggest going in the morning due to everything closing for hours each afternoon for siesta, or pisolino as it is known in  southern Italy.

Concerts are still held in the Roman Theater.

7. Take A Cooking Class

Silvestro at The Awaiting Table

Lecce is a fabulous place to take a cooking class, especially if you will be here more than one day. My friend Silvestro Silvestori runs an incredible cooking school in Lecce. The Awaiting Table has been written up in major publications all over the world and they have taught classes to guests from 59 countries.

My June Puglia tour was going to be coming here for a half day class and I am so disappointed to have missed it.

The Awaiting Table cooking school in Lecce

The Awaiting Table cooking classes are very unique. You can do a half day class at their place in Lecce or you can do a week long cooking school at their castle. Can you even imagine?

Cooking classes at The Awaiting Table in Lecce

Whichever type of class you choose to take the experience is just magnificent. Pugliese cuisine is divine. Everything you eat grows nearby and for olive oil lovers this is one of the most prolific olive growing regions in all of Italy. The Awaiting Table even make their own olive oil which you can buy at the school or order online, they ship it worldwide.

For a list of their classes, to order olive oil and to look at their gorgeous photo gallery you can check out their website here: The Awaiting Table

If you belong to my newsletter you will be receiving a fabulous recipe from The Awaiting Table later this month. If you are reading this post after June 2020 and missed it just bounce me back an email from any newsletter and I will forward it to you. You can sign up for my free Private Members Newsletter here

Visit The City Gates

Lecce was once a walled city with huge city gates at its entrance points. Three of these gates still exist and are well worth seeing. The historic center of Lecce is inside the city gates, the newer more modern city is outside of them.

Porta Napoli gate on a gorgeous, sunny Lecce afternoon

Porta Napoli is the main gate. It was built in 1548 to celebrate a state visit from Charles V. Just beyond the gate there is an obelisk and then the university.

Porta Rudiae, Lecce

My favorite is the Porta Rudiae, a little further south from Porta Napoli. This is the oldest of the three gates and leads you right in to the historic center of town. In my opinion this is the best gate to arrive through.

Porta San Biagio, Lecce

On the other side of the center is Porta San Biagio, probably the least visited gate but it’s still impressive.

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9. Take A Walking Tour

I love taking walking tours with professional, licensed guides. I do them everywhere I go in Italy, even in cities and towns I know really well. No matter how much you think you know about a place, a licensed guide will teach you more. They know all the fascinating stories behind everywhere you go and add so much depth and texture to your entire experience.

On my Glam Italia tours I hire the same guides over and over and even though most of them have been working with me for years, I still learn something new every time. Just be sure to either book a private guide or a small group tour rather than a big group tour.

10. Go For Baroque

Lecce is famous for its spectacular baroque architecture, especially that of its churches. Everything was carved from local Lecce stone, a yellow stone so soft you can carve it with a butter knife. It is also very porous, so in order to harden it they would soak it in a solution of milk and water, which penetrated the pores and created a waterproof layer that has kept the stone preserved for centuries. The milk also hardened the stone and turned it into the gorgeous golden hue it still has today.

There are 22 churches just in the historic center of Lecce. This post tells you about 14 of them, but I just want to draw your attention to 3. Largely because one of the joys of Lecce is turning a corner into a tiny hidden piazza and finding yet another exceptional church. The following 3 churches are in the order I first saw them.

image via wikicommons

San Giovanni Battista

This one is just inside the Rudiae gate and was the first Lecce baroque architecture I saw, so it is the first I show my travelers.

The original church on this site was built for the Dominicans in 1388, replaced by this one in 1691. Designed by Giuseppe Zimbalo it was completed and consecrated in 1728.

I always think this type of baroque architecture, similar to that which you see in the southern Sicilian towns of Noto and Modica, looks like the dreams of a madman, on acid.

It is so busy, your eye flits from place to place and doesn’t know where to land. But in the middle of the madness it is all really quite beautiful.

The Duomo

Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta is the cathedral of Lecce. It is fascinating on many levels. If you think of the cathedrals in most major Italian cities such as Florence, Rome and Milan, the cathedral dominates the heart of the city, and the city radiates out from it. The cathedral is a shining beacon, calling you into its center. Here in Lecce if you didn’t know where to find it you would miss it.

Piazza Duomo, Lecce

On my first trip to Lecce I had been wandering via Vittorio Emanuele looking at cartapesta, turned down a little side street and the piazza Duomo exploded out in front of me. If you make this walk you will see what I mean, the arteries leading into it are quite small and narrow and piazza is enormous, so the effect is fantastic.

The Duomo, Lecce

Another oddity here is that the cathedral isn’t centered with the piazza emanating from its core, instead the cathedral feels like an after-thought, tucked into the corner.

The original structure was built in 1144 but the current facelift happened in 1659, again helmed by Giuseppe Zimbalo. The Duomo is in the southeast corner of the piazza with the main entrance facing (north) out into the piazza. This north facing façade is considered a masterpiece in baroque architecture.

Basilica Santa Croce

I love bringing people here toward the end of the day. Of course it is beautiful at any time but there is pure magic in the apricot light that bathes the building and everything that surrounds it in the late afternoon. From piazza Sant’ Oronzo you walk along via Templari just a few meters and then the church explodes out in front of you. I love the way Lecce does this to you over and over. Even when you’ve been here before and know exactly what you are about to see it still shocks your senses.

Basilica Santa Croce in Lecce.
image is not my own

My first time here is indelibly printed in my mind. An old man had biked up with a piano attached to his bike, he parked it in the piazza opposite that church, put a black vest on over his white shirt, planted a fedora on his head, and sat down and played gorgeous music. The entire episode was mesmerizing, from this fantastic church to the light to the music – I don’t think I moved for an hour.

The façade of the church is Lecce’s piece de resistance, baroque architecture teeming with detail. Lecce baroque is deeply counter reformation – a celebration of the Roman Catholic Church against its protestant enemies. It is also defiantly exuberant.

Detail of Basilica Santa Croce in Lecce
image via Italia Turismo

The first Italian writer to come here, Marquise Grimaldi wrote that the façade of Santa Croce is like the nightmare of a lunatic, realized in stone. Another writer compared it to the frenzied crowdedness of a Hieronymus Bosch painting with the intensity of a fever dream.

Detail of Basilica Santa Croce facade
image via Chiese Lecce

It is just fantastic, you really don’t know quite where to look first. Construction began in 1549 and wasn’t completed until 1646. When you step back to look at it it’s is hard to imagine they could complete all of this in 100 years!

Another blog with some fabulous photos of Lecce is Two Days In Italy. The link to the Lecce post is here

Do you belong to my Private Members Newsletter? Twice each month I send out information on super cool places the tour buses don’t go, foods you need to try and specialized tips to plan your trip. You can join this private group here.

Colleen Rothschild Beauty

What To Do In Lecce
What To Eat Drink And Do In Lecce Italt