What to do in Brindisi and what to see: itineraries and places of interest in this city full of local peculiarities, uniqueness and with a dynamic spirit.
Suitable for a one-day trip, but also for digital nomads looking for a place to live like home for longer periods (read the last paragraphs to learn more about this point).
Brindisi, Adriatic city in South Italy, Puglia region, is suitable for long walks on the quays and to enjoy a good Italian wine at the port, but it’s also a city of modern theaters, chic shopping corners whose landscape is not afraid of the presence of an industrial area that meets and collides with the beauty of a castle floating on the sea.
Here is my suggested itinerary for you.
What to do in Brindisi and hotspots to visit.
1. Lungomare Regina Margherita
Leaving from the Piazza-Giardino dedicated to the king Vittorio Emanuele II and proceeding to the left, you’ll walk along the recently refurbished quay of Lungomare (promenade) Regina Margherita.
A long path made up of bars and restaurants by the sea, benches, large spaces and palm trees in front of deciduous trees that mark the passing of the seasons.
From here we pass in front of the Virgilian staircase (read about it at point 6), to the prefecture building and slowly approach the port, where other peculiar restaurants face the mooring of boats and the activities of sailors and fishermen.
Sit on the docks and watch, read, wait, observe. Breathe, contemplate and take some time.
Big up for those who also took care of green design and to the landscape architects who worked on the new promenade.
As we travel we often underestimate this aspect: everything we see in a city is the result of planning, of concepts created by professionals who work in the shadows.
If a place gives you inspiration, it also depends on urban planning and the choice of communicating something through landscapes.
2. Fishermans’ village
On the quay of the waterfront there is no tram stop but the boat stop where you can take the mean that takes you from one side of the cove to the other.
In fact, Brindisi, unlike, for example, Bari or Taranto, doesn’t overlook the open sea, but rather an inlet.
More than a seaside city, it is a small-port city, with all the charm and peculiarities that this entails in the civic relationship with the water element.
From the quay you can take a shuttle boat that takes you in a few minutes on the other side of the cove.
Here is the “fishermans’ village”, with a suburban spirit and history that differentiates it from the “center”.
Like Buda and Pest, these two spaces separated by a few hundred meters of sea and a few minutes by shuttle tell very different but interesting stories.
Low-rise houses of public housing and intended for those involved in fishing alternate with villas with enormous gardens overlooking the sea.
3. Monument to the Italian Sailors
On this side of the inlet, we find the Monument to the Sailors of Italy.
Brindis’s architecture still carries part of the fascist rhetoric that, through art and city design, wanted to enhance and motivate several strategic cities in the South over the Fascism period.
One of the monuments of this era is the Monument to the Sailor of Italy, which imitates a rudder with a large coated reinforced concrete tower.
Behind the monument we find the Parco del Casale, basically the patch of intense green that can be seen from the other side, under the monument. The walk is very suggestive, especially in the evening and at sunset, also because from here you can see the illuminated Promenade Regina Margherita (as we say in Italy, Lungomare)
You can visit the monument from the inside and climb to the top, enjoying the view, under reservation and for a very cheap price.
4. Castello sul mare – Castle on the Sea (Aragonese Castle of Brindisi)
Known to locals under many names, such as Castello Alfonsino, Red Castle, Castello di Mare, the names commonly used for the Aragonese Castle of Brindisi are many and all describe a royal connotation.
Its pinkish color at sunset, due to the ashlars of carparo, a local tuff, used in the construction, is the reason of the name “castello rosso” (red castle); it seems to float on the sea due to its position on the islet of Sant’Andrea, and that’s the reason of its local name of Castello a Mare (Castle on the sea).
It hides and guards another small and charming harbor inside.
The “official” name is obviously linked to the prestigious person who ordered the construction, Ferdinand of Aragon, and his creator, his illegitimate son Alfonso of Aragon (second husband of Lucrezia Borgia, just to add some healthy gossip and keep the anecdotes more impressed).
It can be visited with an authorized guide, for only 5 euros, by reservation.
5. Roman column and staircase
Walking on the Brindisi promenade, you come across the Virgilian Staircase and you can see, at the top of it, the “Roman column”.
Near this staircase, there was the house of Publio Virgilio Carone, for friends and for the history of the following centuries, “Virgilio”. Yes, Dante’s guide in Hell and Purgatory. He came from Brindisi and had a house here.
From the top of this staircase you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of this small corner of the quay.
On the staircase stands a Roman column, the rest of an ancient monumental complex of which nothing is left except, in fact, two columns (one of which was donated, in 1600, to the city of Lecce, to erect the statue of Sant ‘Oronzo, very dear to all of Salento sub area at that time).
Today some pieces of the complex and of the columns can be seen closely in the place I tell you about in point 10.
6. Temple of San Giovanni al Sepolcro
Very suggestive, this small circular plan temple is the small copy of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; in the years of the Crusades knights used pass from here heading to the Holy Land.
This place was therefore a memory for the pilgrim who had gone and returned but also a possible “alternative” visit for those who had never been there and never could have gone.
7. Old historical area (centro storico)
Those who follow me on my trips to the cities of Italy and Europe know that for me walking without a map in the alleys of the ancient areas of the cities is part of the knowledge of a place or, at least, an indispensable track to internalize a very personal local experience.
Nobody looks at a historic center with the same eyes as another.
The alleys of Brindisi are tortuous and labyrinthine as in all the cities of Puglia.
8. Swabian Castle
Another castle, another wide choice of names to identify it with.
Castello di Terra (Castle of land), Castello Svevo or Castello Federiciano (it is one of the defensive forts built throughout Southern Italy by Frederick II of Swabia), the castle has obviously been used in various historical periods for various purposes (it was even a royal residence during the War).
The interior of the fortification is also very interesting to see, of course; at the foot of the Castle you will also see Porta Mesagne and Porta Lecce, the two intact gates to enter, exit and defend the fortress.
NB: if you glimpse the “Sea Castle” from the side of the promenade near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, you can glimpse the Castello di terra by walking in the opposite direction, on the opposite side of the promenade.
9. Piazza della Cattedrale
Walking through the historic center you will come across the large, imposing and bright Cathedral Square.
It opens to the view as part of a scenography from the side alleys and to understand its beauty you have to go through it.
The square is overlooked by the Cathedral, the Seminary, the loggia of the Balsamo Palace, the San Vincenzo Institute and the Provincial Archaeological Museum, all complexes of enormous artistic and architectural value.
10. Granafei-Nervegna Palace
Palace of an ancient family then acquired by the municipality, today Palazzo Granafei-Nervegna houses a café that hosts many cultural events (and where they make an excellent Gin Tonic, I feel like telling you).
The entrance to the courtyard of the building also leads to the Sala della Colonna, in the former Court of Assizes; here you can see from close up the details of the monumental complex from the Roman period referred to in point 5.
11. Verdi Theatre
Still controversial and discussed among the citizens of Brindisi, the choice to demolish the “Old Verdi Theater” to build the new one, which you will see today, is some aspect of never-ending local policatal debate.
The original structure was built in the early 1900s according to the theatrical architectural canons of the time.
Then it was damaged during the Second World War, became unusable, then renovated and used as a cinema.
Finally, it was decided, at the end of the 1960s, to make it more suitable for the needs of a large city theater, in step with modernity and what you see today is the result.
12. The 13 squares of Brindisi
If anyone asked me what to do in Brisini, I would first tell “walk”:
There is something almost cabalistic in the 13 squares of Brindisi.
The city, in the historical part, is crossed by 13 squares, small and large, reveling very much of civic vision of Brindisi.
Each square has a thousand stories behind it. For example, Piazza Vittoria, where the roof of the covered market is located, was once called the lower square, square of edibles and plebs. Her names distinguished it from the upper square (now Piazza del Sedile), area where nobles used to stroll.
Two neighboring squares, two worlds that are only apparently parallel but in which one fed on part of the other.
Then there is Piazza Cairoli, along Corso Umberto I, with the Fontana delle Ancore, which in the early 1900s was a large square overlooked by concert cafes, cinemas and theaters.
The squares you will come across when going from the port to Corso Umberto I, through the historic center:
Piazza delle Anime, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Vittoria, Piazza del Mercato, Sedile, Piazza Matteotti, Piazza Duomo, Piazza Cairoli, Piazza San Teodoro, Piazza Santa Teresa, Piazza Dante, large S. Paolo and S. Benedetto.
13. Archaeological area of San Pietro degli Schiavoni
Right in front of the theater some excavations bring to light a piece of medieval history in the past hidden by the work of bulldozers and new buildings.
14. Corso Umberto I
The elegant Corso Umberto I is the long commercial boulevard, which connects the station to the historic center which, in turn, accompanies the port and waterfront area.
Tall palm trees accompany the walk, illuminated at Christmas by romantic lights and music that comes out of the bars outdoors in the long summer.
Now that we have arrived in the more modern area, it is about modern times that I would like to talk to you.
Brindisi is one of the cities in Italy that is focusing more on incoming not only tourists but also smart workers of all ages.
Soon, therefore, in my in-depth analysis of the cities of South Italy that encourage the reception of workers from all over the world that I have been working on for a few weeks, we will certainly also find Brindisi.
Let’s keep in touch!