Brindisi is the capital of the province of the same name in the region of Puglia in southern Italy. For a long time, before the advent of budget flights, Brindisi used to be the main port for ferries between Italy and Greece. Main attractions are the column at the end of the Via Appia Antica, the Cathedral and the Castello Aragonese.
Brindisi travel guide
Tourist information: Lungomare Regina Margherita – Brindisi. Phone: +39 0831 523072.
Town hall: Piazza Matteotti, 1. Phone: +39 0831 229111.
Railway station: Brindisi has its own railway station. It is a stop on the Ferrovia Adriatica and the Ferrovia Taranto-Brindisi lines.
Nearest airport: The Aeroporto Internazionale del Salento is located 6 kilometers outside the center of Brindisi.
Brindisi is most noted because of its port. A walk along the Lungomare Regina Margherita provides beautiful panoramas over the harbor area. (The tourist office is in this street, so it is a good place to get a map and start your visit to Brindisi here.)
The best known symbol of the city is the Roman column at the end of the Via Appia Antica, which led from Rome all the way to the port of Brindisi. There actually used to be two columns, but only one of them is still standing. the best way to approach the column is from the Scalinata Virgilio.
The most important churches in the historical center are the Cathedral and the San Sepolcro Church. The latter was constructed on top of a Roma domus, ruins of which are still visible.
The Cathedral is not the only tourist attraction on the Piazza del Duomo. Other sights are the Palazzo Balsamo, the Palazzo del Seminario and the Archaeological Museum.
The San Paolo Eremita Church and the San Benedetto Church are also worth a visit.
The Santa Maria del Casale Church is situated outside the historical center. This church was declared a national monument in 1875.
When approaching Brindisi from the sea, the first attraction you will encounter is the Castello Aragonese. This is also known as the Castello a Mare, because it was constructed on a small island off the coast.
Where there is a Castello a Mare, there also has to be a Castello a Terra. This is the nickname of another castel, built by the Swabian Frederick II.
During the construction of the Nuovo Teatro Verdi, an entire archaeological area was discovered. This Area Archeologica San Pietro degli Schiavoni gives a good idea of what Roman Brindisi used to look like.
There is a small Archaeological Museum in the Palazzina Belvedere.
Also worth seeing: Portico dei Cavalieri Tempari, Palazzo Granfei Nervegna, Monument for the Italian Sailor (Monumento al Marinaio d’Italia)
A brief history of Brindisi
The area where Brindisi was founded was already inhabited in prehistoric times. Archaeological finds on the territory include weapons and other artifacts.
Other archaeological finds testify of the presence of the Messapians and the Romans.
The foundation of the city itself was probably the result of the presence of Basilian monks. Basilian monks were Greek Catholic monks, followers of the rules of Saint Basil the Great, who had had to flee from persecution and had take refuge in the Salento area. They had acquired and reclaimed a lot of land in the area, which had brought in many workers. The workers also needed housing and thus the first nucleus of the village was born.
In the 7th century the territory was supposed to be crossed by a wall that separated the area under Byzantine from the lands under Lombard rule. Definitive proof of the existence of this wall, which was supposedly called, Limitone dei Greci, is not available, however.
From the Middle Ages to the present
In the 6th century the city was destroyed by the Goths. Its port was abandoned, and a period of decline started.
For a while, the town was a fief of the Church of Brindisi. In the 11th century, the Byzantimes took power, in the 12th century the Normans and in the 13th century it was the turn of the Hohenstaufens of the Duchy of Swabia.
As a result of the Christian religious crusades, a new age of prosperity started for the city.
In 1348, the Plague struck, which had devastating consequences. The economic situation was worsened when a major canal was closed out of fear of an attack by the Venetians. This caused the area to become marshy and deteriorated the quality of the water.
In the early 18th century, Brindis came under Austrian rule.
The Austrians were succeeded by the Bourbons.
From September 1943 till February 1944, Brindisi was the temporary seat of the Italian government.
How to get to Brindisi by car
The town can be reached from Taranto on the E90 highway, from Bari on the E55 and from Lecce on the SS613.