Brindisi, Italy

From serving as the capital of Brindisi province to being a significant center of history and culture and a tourist spot with beautiful beaches and natural areas, Brindisi, Italy, is an ideal destination for holiday travelers.

Brindisi has had an important commercial role both historically and currently.
It is a vital location in the heel of Italy’s boot and is a natural port on the Adriatic Sea. It has developed energy and chemical production and agriculture, and it is a primary port for trade with the Middle East and Greece.

Brindisi, Puglia, ItalyBrindisi’s history dates back to the Bronze Age, through Greek settlement before Rome expanded, and then became a focal point of the Roman Navy and sea trade. After being conquered by the Byzantine Empire and destroyed by the Lombards, the city was rebuilt because of its prized natural harbor. The city continued under foreign rule during the Middle Ages, and then later as the temporary Italian capital during part of World War II.

Brindisi is accessible by air, land, and sea. The Papola-Casale Airport is 6km from the city and has daily flights to and from main cities of Italy and Europe.
An interesting fact about the airport is that because of the tactical location of the airport near the Mediterranean, it serves as the primary base for the United Nations to carry out its peacekeeping operations over the entire world and is a base for aid to Eastern Europe and Africa. For ground transportation,
Brindisi is close to two main roads: the Bari-Lecce Expressway and the Adriatica SS 16. The Brindisi Railroad station is on the link of the Apulian Railway and connects Brindisi to cities on the Ionian and Adriatic Coast.
Travelers can reach Brindisi by sea as the Public Transport Company that offers public transportation within the city and to other provincial towns also operates service by sea in the inland waters of Brindisi’s port. Other companies provide ferry service to Greece and other major ports.

Visitors will find most of Brindisi’s attractions related to the city’s history or the natural areas. For the history buffs, tour the following sites.

The two ancient Roman columns, which are Brindisi’s symbols, were a point of orientation for sailors in times of old. One is still standing.

The Castello Svevo or Castello Grande or Hohenstaufen / Large Castle constructed by Emperor Frederick II. It was designed with a trapezoid plan and then renovated. Serving later as a prison, it was also home for King Victor Emmanuel during the World War II.

The Arragonese Castle, or Sea fort, was built in the late 1400s on S. Andrea Island across from the port.

Brindisi’s churches reflect the history and architecture of the town. Church of San Benedetto in the Romanesque style before the 11th century, the Duomo (Cathedral) in Romanesque design from the 11th – 12th century, Church of Santa Maria del Casale, the Gothic-Romanesque design, is from the 13th century. in addition, other churches from the Medieval and Renaissance times.

Brindisi’s area has natural areas that are protected. These include the Regional National Park of Punta della Contessa Salt, a wetland; the Regional Nature Preserve Bosco of Santa Teresa and Lucci; the Regional Nature Reserve Forest Cerano; and the Marine Nature Reserve Cauceto tower.


Bari, Italy

You’ll find the bustling port city of Bari in southern Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Bari is a charming city and is famous for being one of Italy’s exit doors since it is from here that many travelers leave by ferry to some of the neighboring countries.

But Bari has much more to offer, with its old town area that has kept its medieval building plan with many historic sites and buildings. The old town of Bari was once the heart of pre-Roman and Roman Bari and today offers many trendy restaurants and bars that are open from dusk until dawn. Known as the Bari Vecchia, the old town section is a sprawl of passageways and streets, a beautiful medieval section that is home to many important churches. For historic buffs and those who enjoy sites and architecture, a good place to start is the “Basilica di San Nicola”, built in 1087 with a crypt, a gold ceiling and many medieval attractions.

Port of Bari, Puglia, ItalyA lovely place to visit and enjoy is a walk along the waterfront, atop the old city walls. You will pass by the “Fortino of Saint Antony”, an old fort that was recently converted into a modern art exhibition.

Another site to see is the Swabian Castle, built around 1131 by Roger II of Sicily. Today the castle serves as a gallery for many of the city’s exhibits. Then there is the Bari Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Sabinus of Canosa. The construction began in the Byzantine style in 1034 and has since seen a number of reconstructions and additions over the centuries.

For theater lovers, you will find one of the grandest opera houses in Italy, the Petruzzelli Theatre, which has hosted many famous ballet and opera stars throughout the last century.

Shopping lovers will thrill to what is said to be the largest shopping center in all of Italy in the Murat city Centre of Bari, with innumerous street stores and smaller shops that specialize in tailoring and high fashion. For designer shops, check out Via Sparano de Bari.

For those wanting to check out the area around the Bari, just 20 minutes out of the city is the small town of Adelfia. The patron saint of one of its areas is Saint Trifone. During the month of November they host a popular 3 day celebration in his honor. On the 9th of November a giant beautiful balloon is released in the early evening, signifying the beginning of the festival. The 10th of November brings a large parade through the streets of the town and fireworks from the evening until the early hours of the morning. Venders fill the city with food, goods and gifts.

A visit to any Italian city would not be complete without savoring some of their wonderful food and wine. Bari is no exception, with one of Italy’s most traditional and noteworthy cuisines. Bari’s food is based on three of the main products found in the region, wheat, olive oil and wine. It is also enriched through the wide variety in vegetables and fruit produced in the region.


Ostuni, Italy

Ostuni was named “Astu Neon” – meaning “new city” – when the Greeks rebuilt it from the ashes of the Punic Wars in 146 B.C. This ancient city is now commonly referred to as The White City – La Città Bianca in Italian – because the oldest homes still standing were built from white caustic limestone. These structures are highly visible from afar – shining in the Italian sunshine during the day and lit by floodlights at night – as a beacon welcoming visitors from around the world.

Ostuni was built on a hill, just a few miles away from the Adriatic coastline. It is located within Brindisi Province, which is almost at the top of the “heel” of Italy when you consider its boot-like shape. It is believed this region has been inhabited since the Stone Age, some 50,000 years ago. It is now home to 32,000 permanent residents, but this number swells to around 100,000 during the summer months as tourists flock to this historic city.

Ostuni, Puglia, ItalyOstuni has become a popular destination for travelers in recent decades. Its historic center – now known as “Old Town” or “Centro Storico” in Italian – is full of perfectly preserved architectural jewels, including homes, monuments, and beautiful churches. It is a romantic city to wander through, a maze of cobblestoned streets and small alleyways. Visitors enjoy discovering small, family-owned pubs, restaurants, and unique shops around every corner. Lovely views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding farms can be glimpsed throughout the city.

Old Town is surrounded by a defensive wall, which was built centuries ago and then reinforced by the Aragonese in the mid-1400s. The view from the wall is amazing, sweeping across the plains of olive groves, vineyards, and out to the Adriatic Sea. The best-known landmark in Ostuni is the cathedral, Duomo di Ostuni, which was built sometime between 1435 and 1495. Featuring late Gothic architectural style, a magnificent round rose-colored window was built into the facade above the main entrance.

Other notes of interest in Ostuni include the Palazzo Vescovile, Palazzo del Seminario and the Loggia, which includes the remains of a castle built back in 1148. There’s also the Museo di Civita Preclassiche della Murgia, which contains the skeleton of a pregnant woman found in the vicinity. “Delia” was carbon-dated to have died at least 25,000 years ago.

Near the shoreline, a series of watch towers still stand, including the Pylon, Pozzella Tower, and the Villanova. These were constructed back in the early 1500s during the rule of Bona Sforza. These towers were used to keep watch over the sea, protecting Ostuni from invaders of foreign lands. Many tourists flock to Ostuni to enjoy the pristine beaches in the area. The city also has one public park – the Villa Comunale – which is a nice place to enjoy a picnic or stroll.

Ostuni is bustling with tourists between July and August when the weather is at its warmest, but its year-round temperate climate makes it a good place to visit any time. Some noteworthy festivals include the Feast of San Biagio in February, La Cavalcata – a parade of horses – held in August, and the Buskers Festival each September. If visiting around Christmas-time, there is a beautiful living Nativity held in the cathedral.


Foggia, Italy

Foggia is the second largest Province in Italy and the capital of the province is the city of Foggia, which is best known for the beauty and natural wonders of it richly diverse landscapes that includes sandy beaches, rolling mountains, and large fertile plains. This region of Italy is famous for its agriculture like wheat, tomatoes, and watermelon.

During World War II, the city of Foggia was considered the center of communications between the north and south, and because of its position the city was bombed by the allies to near destruction. Bombing during the war and several local earthquakes were responsible for the necessity to rebuild, which accounts for the modernization of Foggia.

Vieste, Foggia, Puglia, ItalyCastello (Lucera)
The Castle of Lucera dates back to the 13th century and is located in Lucera in the province of Foggia. Built in 1233, the castle was built on the foundations of a Romanic cathedral from construction materials acquired from the remains of nearby Roman buildings. In 1456, the Castle barely survived an earthquake and was nearly destroyed. Tourists rarely get to visit such an ancient site rich in centuries of history.

San Giovanni Rotondo
The Shrine of Padre Pio, the home of the tomb of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcinais who died in 1968, is the world’s second most popular Catholic shrine. The tomb is installed inside the stunningly beautiful Santa Maria delle Grazie (Church of Our Lady of Grace) where visitors can view the cell of Saint Padre Pio, see his confessional, his crucifix, and the carefully preserved remainder of his earthly possessions. Nearby, traces of ancient cultures dating back to the 4th and 5th millennium B.C. are visible and the history of the town dates back to the year 1095.

Foresta Umbra
The Foresta Umbra in Foggia is all that remains of the ancient forest of oak, beech, Turkey oak, hornbeam, fir and chestnut trees that once covered the majority of Central Europe. In the spring, Foresta Umbra blooms into a lavish lush forest filled with indigenous vegetation where local wildlife abounds. Visitors get a rare view of ancient beech trees, volcanic rocks (Black Stones) and the Sanctuary of San Nazario. The Foresta Umbra is open for tourists to explore on guided jeep tours or on their own.

Tremiti Islands
An archipelago consisting of three main islands, San Domino, San Nicola, and Capraia, is located off the coast of Gargano, and is known as the Tremiti Islands. The Tremiti Islands offers tourist a chance to experience unspoiled nature with spiking cliffs, caves, and crystal clear waters rich in fish resources. Several of the local caves are home to native monk seals. The incredible calcareous rocks, arcs, and caves are contrasted against the arrival of modern accommodations and restaurants that serve locals and tourists.

Gargano National Park
The Gargano National Park provides protection for the Sipontine Marshes which are a natural reserve for thousands of bird species. Under the protection of the Gargano National Park, wildlife and the vegetation of the marshy environment thrive. A visit to the Gargano National Park gives tourists an opportunity to experience natural ancient marshes and rare species of wildlife in their natural habitat. Gragano National Park is a photographer’s dream come true.


Lecce, Italy

When thinking of Italian cities, it is likely the better known areas come to mind, along the lines of Rome or Venice. However, the incredible city of Lecce is steeped in a rich history and provides ample cultural and historical landmarks worth a visit. It is the capital of the province of the same name, Lecce, and one of the most fascinating cities in within the region of Puglia. With a history that traces back to 200 BC, the resident of Lecce, numbering over nearly 100,00, have a strong identity and pride in their home. With Baroque architecture, wine and olive oil production and such a rich history, it should come as no surprise that Lecce is among the top cities to visit in Italy.

Roman Theater, Lecce, ItalyThe first traces of Lecce in history can be found as far back at the 3rd century BC, when in the Trojan War the city was taken over by the Romans and renamed Lupiae. By the 2nd century AD, the city was moved by the Emperor Hadrian, to it’s present day location roughly 2 miles Northeast. The name was also changed slightly, to Licea or Litium. The city was soon thriving, and had a theater and amphitheater. Lecce’s patron saint was the city’s first Christian Bishop, a man by the name of Sant’Oronzo who served during this time period. After the fall of the Western Empire, the city changed hands often, each successive handover impressing new cultures on the identity of the people. During the 15th century, Lecce was among the most significant cities in Italy, and many Baroque buildings went up this time, which the city is known for today.

The main attraction in Lecce today is the Baroque architecture left behind from the 14th century and beyond. Sites such as the Church of the Holy Cross, the Duomo Cathedral, Porta Napoli, the Church of San Matteo and the Palace of Charles V. Some Roman remnants exist as well, including the famed amphitheater dating back to the 2nd century AD.

The industry of Lecce is based primarily on the export of a type of limestone so common to the area that it is called “Lecce stone.” It is very malleable and used often for sculpting. Ceramic production is the extent of the industrial economy in Lecce, although agriculture is heavily focused on olive oil and wine. Tourism is a small part of the economy, but ties into the other aspects well. The natural products of Lecce make wonderful souvenirs, including small sculptures, bottles of wine and olive oil, and paintings of the various architectural sites on ceramic plates.

With a pleasant Mediterranean climate, a rich history, a plethora of cultural and historical landmarks and several attractions, the city of Lecce is among the top Italian cities to visit. Travelers won’t be disappointed with a trip the the region.