The Adriatic port city of Brindisi enjoyed a PAST that was certainly more colorful than it’s PRESENT. In it’s glory days (around the second century BC) city of Brindisi was an important part of the Roman Empire. The famous Appian Way ended in Brindisi, and the port of Brindisi was a jewel in the crown of the legendary “East India Trading Company’ which shipped goods from India to Brindisi and vice-versa. Further more, the areas around Brindisi are prime examples of Messapian culture.
These days, the city of Brindisi still seems to be searching for its identity – caught in a never-ending flux of re-inventing itself for the new millennium. But for travelers with a few days or even a few hours on their hands, the city of Brindisi provides a handful of historic locations that may wet one’s appetite for learning more about the city’s historic past or perhaps motivate you to return for another visit.
First on the agenda are the twin Roman Columns which sit at the end of the Appian Way. I’ve written extensively on the history of Brindisi’s twin columns (check the AC Travel Archives or my own AC article archives ), but in a nutshell, when you get downtown, take a left on Via Regina Margherita and walk about 100 meters and you’ll come to the Steps of the Appian Way. At the top of the steps sit the twin columns. Actually only a column and a quarter, since the second column now resides in Lecce’s Piazza di Sant Oronzo (why? Read the story in the archives and find out!). The end of the Appian ran it’s course at the Port of Brindisi for reasons linked to trade and commerce: any goods coming in or going out could easily be loaded or unloaded. Another great tale is how the ex-Roman gladiator Spartacus got two-timed at the port of Brindisi when he tried to escape with several thousand rebel slaves (and THAT story not only made for a great Kirk Douglas film but you guessed it – another article to track down in the AC archives).
When you get to the top of the steps and are finsihed checking out the Roman Columns, follow the narrow cobblestone road behind the columns (Via Colonne) that leads to the Piazza Duomo. In the piazza, on your right-hand side, you’ll find the always interesting Brindisi Archeological Museum (Piazza Duomo #8, tel: 0831/563545, admission is 3 euro) The Brindisi Archeological Museum is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 to 1:30 and from 3:30 to 6:00pm. And on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 to 12:30. The Brindisi Archeological Museum is a treasure trove of Roman-era artifacts including pottery, sculture, jewelry and more. Large collections from the nearby archeological dig of the Roman city of Egnatia are also included. A complete tour takes about an hour and it’s time well spent.
When you leave the Archeological Museum look to your left and prepare yourself for a visual feast as your stand awestruct before the Cathedral of Saint John, better known to the locals as the Catttedrale San Giovane Battista (Paizza Duomo, 0831-521157, firstname.lastname@example.org). The Cathedral is one of the focal points of Brindisi. Construction started in 1089 and was finished in 1143. As Cathedrals go, St. Johns pales in comparison to the some of the ones you find in the nearby Lecce (again, check out the AC Travel archives for more) but St. Johns packs ’em in every Sunday so I guess you can’t ask for more than that. The interior of the Cathedral is pretty plain. Most of the artifacts of substance have long since been removed and sit either in the Brindisi Archeological Museum or the Archeological Museum of Lecce. Far more interesting are the sculptures of the 12 apostles which adorn the roof-top facade.
There are plenty of other things to see and enjoy in the city of Brindisi. You’re best bet may be to walk back down the steps of the Roman Columns and visit the Tourist Information Center (Lungomare Regina Margherita, 44, tel: 0831 562126, Email: email@example.com ,Website: pugliaturismo.com) the info center will load you up with maps and anything else you might want for an enjoyable stay in Brindisi.