The best of Brindisi
I moved to Brindisi in February 2010 so it’s been a year already in this little town with approx. 100 000 inhabitants. Before I came here, I googled it as every place where I go to. It gives you the better idea if you see some pictures and maps, and read a bit about the place. There were just a very few photos. To name them is very easy: the majority of them is the port (birds eye view, too), some maps of the centre and its location in Italy. So I did not know much before coming. Knowing it has a port and beaches very close, was enough for me to be satisfied.
But what if you really want to visit Brindisi and do not have much time to explore it? What should you see and do? This post is kind of a memory for me as I am leaving Brindisi today. Just to remind to myself the great times I had in here and to give some tips to next visitors. Here is the best of Brindisi:
In the town itself, the nicest area is around the p o r t. Due to its good Adriatic sea location, Brindisi port is the major port towards the Middle East and Greece. You can watch big cruise ships here and sit down with a delicios Italian ice cream at the steps La Scalinata Virgilio. Or take a walk along the port listening to the seagulls and watching the sunset like many local families with children or couples do. There is a market on Sunday afternoon in here and in the main street of the centre as well.
There is a STP boat that takes you from the centre part of the port to C a s a l e (Brindisi quarter with the airport – Aeroporto Papola-Casale). It is more quiet area than the centre. The boat trip is one or two minutes only and costs 90 cents (if you get a normal bus ticket before in any tabaccheria or small shops with the label STP) or one euro onboard the boat (there is a ticket machine inside the boat; just do not get the coins to the boatman as he will not get you any ticket but keeps the money for himself, instead.)
Casale port is mostly known for its so called ‘monument’ – i l M o n u m e n t o a l M a r i n a i o, built on the order of Mussolini in 1933. Inside it contains almost 40 000 names of sailors who died in WW1 and WW2. With its 53 m of carparo stone it is 7 m higher than the Statue of Liberty and it took a year to built it up.
In the upper part of the monument, there is the statue of Virgin Mary called Stella del Mare – the Star of the Seas. You can find here two anchors and two guns belonging to austro-hungarian ships Viribus Unitis and Tegetthoff at the upper square.
It is a very popular place for a walk, or down the steps for fishing or running. What you definitely should do is to climb the monument – it is only 250 steps (I did count them). However, during a year in Brindisi I have not found out which days you can do it and which you cannot, as everyone says a different thing. There is a guard at the door during the day, I think until 8pm, and usually if you smile at him, he will let you pass in and climb the steps up where you will get the best view of the whole Brindisi area.
It is always very windy there (as in all Brindisi which makes us call the town Windisi) so be careful with your belongings as when I was there a girl dropped down her camera. Ouch! Then when back down, get a walk around the port in the direction of the centre munching a panino (Italian sandwich). It is a place with the biggest concentration of palm trees in Puglia surrounding the road around the port.
Once you get to the picturesque h i s t o r i c a l c e n t r e, wander along the narrow streets full of antique buildings and I bet the atmosphere will bring you back to the Greek and Roman times. If nothing then at least by the ancient Roman column (standing at the top of La Scalinata Virgilio) which was meant to be the end of the Appian way.
The second column that used be there too crumbled down in the end of the 16th ct and now its ruins hold the statue of Saint Oronzo in Lecce. The Italians are very religious so Brindisi can offer its visitants some lovely churches. The most impressive is Romanesque style Duomo (The Cathedral) from the 12th century, which was reconstructed after the earthquake in 1743. Then gray and yellow Santa Maria de Casale from 1300 and Church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro are among the nicest ones, too.
Besides the monument, the pride of Brindisi are two castles: C a s t e l l o S v e v o in the centre, which is used by the Italian navy nowadays, and C a s t e l l o A r a g o n e s e known as Forte a Marte, Red Castle or Castello Alfonsino. It is situated on Sant’Andrea island. This one is without any doubt the part of Brindisi where I have spent most of my time. You can get there from Casale when you take the road to Materdomini and then you see the waterfront. It is a military area so the castle is closed for the most part of the year. It should be open for public in August but I tried to visit it many many times in August 2010 and never succeeded – was always closed.
Hopefully you will have more luck. Next to the castle there is a promenade. This area is definitely my top 1 in Brindisi. It is a popular place for running, cycling, scooter ride, fishing, diving, inline skating or just sitting inside the car when it’s too windy and enjoy the company of someone nice. I often cycled there and then climbed up the 3 m high wall there (there are ladders every now so it is quite easy if you are at least a bit athletic) and lie down on top of it, watch the sunset and listening to the waves hitting at the rocks.
There is no proper b e a c h in Brindisi town. You can get a bus number 4 or 4/, both going every half an hour which take you to one of the beaches. But to get tanned on a Caribbean kind of beach, you need to drive a bit further where the bus does not go. The closest very cute beach is Punta Penna Grossa in Torre Guaceto National Reserve – 17 km North of Brindisi. During the summer season it is 3 euro per car parking for a day and it is really packed especially at the weekend and bank holidays.
I am going to miss you, Brindisi, and especially some people, love you loads … you know who you are!