The city port of Brindisi, known as “The Gate to the East”, started life as an Illyrian Greek colony, taken over by the Meassapians it fell to Rome in 300 BC. Remaining loyal to the Republic and resisting Caesars Imperialist ambitions, it was attacked by him, in 49, 42 and 40 BC.
The most important trading port in the Empire after that of Rome itself, Brindisi like the rest of Puglia underwent the customary revolving ownership of Roman, Ostragoth, Byzantine, Norman, Aragonese, Venetian, Austrian, French and Bourbon overlords and kings.
Always a trade route, the world’s first paved road, the great Via Appia led straight here from Rome.
Razed to the ground in 647 AD by the Lombards between periods of Byzantine rule and suffering heavily by marauding Saracens and Turks raiders, Brindisi became the main port of embarkation and return of Crusading armies from across Europe. A centre of trade with the Middle East with access to the silk road and overland trade routes to the Orient, its importance grew with the opening of the Suez canal and trans Mediterranean trading.
Just a 20 minute drive from our holiday Villas. Today Brindisi boasts palm-lined attractive pedestrianised shopping boulevards, and streets lined with fragrant orange trees. The road to the Marina and Port is always downhill and a summer evenings stroll along the Lungomare is always a pleasant diversion, with the yachts and motorboats moored at the quayside silhouetted against the harbour lights as the twinkling reflections dance on the water. Steps lead up to the “Roman Columns” – twin pillars marking the end of Roman Via Appia, only one still remains, the other was donated by the citizens of Brindisi to the city of Lecce, to use as a pedestal for the Statue of St Oronzo the patron saint of Lecce that the population of Brindisi credited for curing an outbreak of plague.
The North end of the Marina is blocked by the Naval base barrier, whilst away in the south, the seafront merges into the commercial harbour where ferries to destinations of Greece, Corfu and Turkey compete on the sea-lanes with those to Montenegro, Croatia and luxurious visiting cruise liners.
Brindisi has many attractions for the tourist willing to find them. The trapezium shaped Swabian Castle or Castello Grandewas, built in the 13th century using cannibalised sections of city walls and early monuments as building stone for construction, enlarged and re-fortified in the 15th century by the Aragonese, it housed and protected King Victor Emanuele, whilst Brindisi itself served as the country’s capital, as Rome was disputed in the late years of World War Two.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of Romanesque architectures finest examples in Italy and was built by the Templar Knights in the eleventh century. The “Sea Castle” built in two parts under Aragonese rule to defend the port against attack from the sea.
Too numerous to mention are the churches, but a visit to the Cathedral of St John the Baptist is recommended. Commencing construction in 1098 the Norman design boasts a mosaic floor similar to that in the Cathedral of Otranto, and houses the relics of the city’s patron Saint Teodoro and also Saint Lawrence.
- Bar Betty & Skippers. (Italian cuisine) 2 restaurants in one, on the seafront in the marina.
- Don Carlos (steakhouse) 19, Via Guerrieri (pick your own meat selection before cooking)