Carol Forster column


Brindisi, much like ‘Dante’s Inferno’, is the portal to many places.

Historically a much used passageway, when the port became the main crossing point between East and West, as well as a route for pilgrims, it is used these days by holidaymakers and criminals alike.

Brindisi itself is a lively place bristling with people.

A sunny seaside passeggiata, lined with palm trees and seafood restaurants, awaits those who like a walk and enjoy lovely views.

As with much of southern Italy, it formed part of Magna Graecia before the Romans arrived.

It was also ruled by Venice for a short while before being reconquered by Spain.

In the past, two splendid ancient columns marked the end of the Appian way (the main road between Rome and southern Italy) at the top of the ‘Scalinata Virgiliana’ steps.

This road would have been trodden by Romans, traders and Crusaders heading for the East.

However, generosity prevailed when one column was given to Lecce by Brindisi, after St. Oronzo (Lecce’s patron saint) reputedly cured the plague in Brindisi.

It now props up a statue of St. Oronzo in Lecce’s main piazza.

That must have been an interesting sight to behold.

They didn’t have delivery vans back then so it brings new meaning to the words, ‘We’ve brought you a little present. It’s nothing really!’

The 11th century Romanesque Duomo has remarkably survived seven earthquakes and been rebuilt; the ‘Museo Archaelogico Provinciale’ is full of Greek and Roman treasures, and just outside the city the ‘Chiesa di Santa Maria del Casale’ is well worth seeing.

The old town has old-fashioned appeal, where washing hangs out to dry and scooters race through cobbled streets.

Nowadays Brindisi is like a holding house for tourists embarking on journeys to Greece or the Eastern Adriatic.

Its environs are also being snapped up by the wealthy and famous alike, giving birth to the term Salentoshire, rather like its Tuscan counterpart, Chiantishire.

Balmy yet vibrant, with swaying palm trees and omnipresent Vespas.

Brindisi has a lot of charm.