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Brindisi is an ancient city in the south of Italy, in the 'heel' of the 'boot'. The city was founded by the Greeks, according to tradition by the hero from the Greek mythology, Diomedes. Like Bari for instance, Brindisi has known many conquerors: After the Greeks came the Romans and later the Normans, Spaniards and Austrians. These different influences are still found in the city.
Brindisi means 'deer head' and the place was named that way after the shape of the natural harbor. That port was both the economic heart and a curse for a long time for Brindisi. Why a curse? Because the center of the town has long been mainly populated by hundreds of (backpack) tourists that visited Brindisi only to wait for their ferry to Greece, Turkey and Albania. And those tourists attracted pickpockets in their turn. The ferry port has been moved and the main street to the old harbor is now pedestrianized. The residents make good use of it strolling in the early evening and relaxing on a terrace a bit later. An additional effect is that due to the greater social control the number of pickpockets has declined sharply.
The city has a beautiful historical center, which is full of churches, castles, rustic streets and beautiful landscaped gardens. Brindisi lies at the end of the famous Via Appia, built by the Romans. The end of that street is marked by a marble column (Colonna Terminali della via Appia). Near the column stands the impressive Duomo. This Romanesque style church was originally built in the twelfth and thirteenth century, but destroyed by an earthquake in 1743. After this the cathedral was rebuilt, but only the beautiful mosaic is from the original church.
There are two major strongholds in Brindisi: the Castello Grande which was built in the thirteenth century by Emperor Frederick II, and the Forte a Mare on the islet St. Andrea in front of the port which has the Red Castle inside it. If you take the small ferry boat from Viale Regina Margherita on the Pigonati channel you will end up at the Monument to the Navigators, 54 meters high and shaped like a ship's rudder. It was built in 1933 by order of dictator Mussolini to commemorate the victims of the First World War.
The small Archaeological Museum of Brindisi has an extensive collection of bronze vases, sculptures and other objects from ancient Greece, found during excavations in Punta del Serrone.
Follow the Via Provinciale San Vito in your rental car along the Seno di Ponente bay and you will come to one of the biggest attractions of Brindisi: Chiesa di Santa Maria del Casale. The church is a strange mixture of styles with both Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine influences. The frescoes inside the church are clearly Byzantine, culminating in The Last Judgment, at the entrance.
Serranova is a village west of Brindisi, the exit is clearly indicated on the SS379. Then go into the direction of S.Vito dei Normanni and you will end up at ancient tombs carved into rocks. The prettiest grave is the one of St. Biagio with frescoes dating back to the eleventh century. In Serranova you can find the visitor center for the nature reserve Torre Guaceto. Near that park you can find almost deserted sandy beaches, ideal for people who love peace and quiet. Please note: don't park your car near the beach because the risk of burglary is high. Leave your car in the car park at the visitor center in Serranova and take the minibus to the beach (only in season).
Further west is Ostuni, also known as the most beautiful town in Puglia. The immaculate white cube-shaped houses are reminiscent of an Arab town and that feeling is reinforced with the narrow streets. The gray-colored cathedral on top of the hill stands out somewhat unfavourably compared to the rest of the town. You do have a nice view of the surroundings however: olive trees and the characteristic trulli with conical roofs.
Dutch archaeologists have made some interesting finds of Greek and Roman settlements eighteen kilometers southeast of Brindisi. The excavation sites make up the archaeological park Muro Tenente. There are various routes mapped out, that can be done by foot or by bike. On several location watch towers have been installed, giving you a better idea of how the settlements looked in ancient times.
Lecce hardly needs an introduction. This town southeast of Brindisi is also called 'the Florence of Southern Italy' because of the number of baroque buildings.
There is a wide range of accommodation in Brindisi, in all price ranges. In the vicinity of the city, near the beaches, are many holiday resorts.
There are several parking options in Brindisi, but we don't recommend parking your rental car on the street or unattended car park. Choose a guarded garage!
The city's airport, Brindisi, is located about six kilometers north of the center. The airport is easily accessible by rental car, from Brindisi follow the highway SS16/SS379.