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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A brindisi in Brindisi

There is something about a beach, a harbor, and the coastline in general that make us feel free and give us a sense of awe. Sunsets and sunrises on the coast lines are always something magical that takes our breath away. 
In the south of Italy there is much coastline to take in and see. 

One such spots is for sure the ancient city of Brindisi. This will be the first stop of the Giada Valenti  'From Venice With Love" Cruise, departing from my Venice on the elegant MSC Musica on July 9th.

I can’t wait to share this beautiful adventure with all the wonderful friends and fans that will be joining me.

Brindisi is in the Puglia region of Italy, on its south-eastern coast, just north of Lecce. It is an integral part of the  Salento peninsula, serving as the capital of the province of Brindisi and right on the Adriatic Sea.

Brindisi has been known as the «Gateway to the East» since ancient times, when it became an important port, first for the Roman troops, and later for the merchants of Venice.
This port in Apulia even today provides important travel connections to and from a long list of sea and airports making Brindisi one of Italy’s most important ports.

Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area has also been touched in the past by the influence of ancient Greece, as it was founded by Greek settlers. The Romans took the town from the Greeks in the middle of the 3rd century BC and set about maximising the town’s potential.  Brindisi was also connected to Rome through the Via Appia and Via Traina.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Brindisi passed into the hands of the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Saracens and then the Normans, who arrived in 1070. Badly bombed during the Second World War, Brindisi spent many years rebuilding, and, especially in the last decade, the city has undergone a significant makeover. As with many Italian cities, Brindisi has seen its share of conquerors, earthquakes and destruction from World War II. But, in true Italian fashion, the city has risen from its ashes and managed to harmonize what was left from the past, with the new.

The center is home to wide, palm-tree lined boulevards, a revamped seafront promenade with beautiful restaurants and bars, a great many winding streets, some fine Baroque churches (including the cathedral) and, last but not least, the mightily impressive fortress.

The city of Brindisi played an important role during World War II, especially in the last years of the conflict: in fact, between September 1943 and February 1944 the city functioned as the temporary capital of Italy, when the king, Vittorio Emanuele III, his entourage and the head of the military abandoned Rome after the fall of the Fascist régime. 

The city's name derives from the ancient Latin Brundisium, which comes from the Greek brentesion meaning "deer's head", referring to the shape of its natural harbor. The symbol also appears in its coat of arms, which includes a war cross for the civilian victims of World War II.

As we move south, Italy changes a little. Dialect change, the coast changes, even the food takes on a more Greek-like, Mediterranean flavor, which I personally found delicious. 

Some of my favorite “Orechiette con le cime di rapa” Orecchiette Pasta shapes with broccoli rabe or puce con le olive, a typical bread with black olives from the Salento region, or the taralli. 

Easy, healthy and delicious I will share some recipe from this region of future Blogs.

You will find also different languages spoken here, as well. But one thing is certain, you will sure fall in love with the beauty of this part of the country. 

Here are some of the  sightseeing attractions in Brindisi : 

       1. The Castello Grande built by Frederick II, typifies much of the ancient buildings here. It was built in the 13th century with massive square towers and a unique trapezoid plan. 

It has seen many uses over its long history: it was even used as a penitentiary in the 1800s.

         2. The Castello Aragonese was built in 1491 on the Sant' Andrea Island facing the port. Called the "Sea Fort" (to distinguish it from the "Land Fort"), it dates back to the 1490s.

3. The signature structure of Brindisi, though, has to be its two ancient Roman columns of which only one is still extant. The other crumbled in 1582, and the ruins were given to Lecce to hold the statue of Saint Oronzo (Lecce's patron), as the Saint was thought to have cured the plague in Brindisi. The columns were once thought to mark the end of the Via Appia. There is a small stretch of the old Via Appia still travelled by many today, although paved over: that stretch opens up in downtown Brindisi, highlighted by giant steps and the two columns. Many take advantage of the downtown area to take a stroll down the very steps that the ancients have walked, although today it is usually for an ice cream and not to chase down Spartacus and his friends. 

Those wanting a better feel for what life was like during Roman times may take a look at the nearby archeological site of Ignazia, which does showcase part of the Via Appia. 

Other sites worth taking in include the Duomo built in the 11th and 12th centuries and restored in the 18th after an earthquake. Parts of the original mosaic flooring can still be seen. 

The  Church of Santa Maria del Casale, with its façade of geometrical patterns, as well as the Portico dei Templari, both built in the 1300.
Something off of the sacred architecture tour path worth a visit is the natural reserve of Torre Guaceto and the Grand Fountain. 

The Romans loved their fountains which they built along the Via Appia. This one is still in perfect conditions and was restored in 1192.

Brindisi in modern Italian language means “Prost or “Cin Cin”.
So I can't wait to have a brindisi in Brindisi with all the people joining me on the From Venice With Love Cruise.

For info and to register for the Cruise visit
If you register before February 14th you can have the chance to win 1000 dollar off of a cabin for 2.

From Venice With Love,


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