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  • Day8

    Brindisi

    April 8, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Last night we had a wonderful meal at Volo to finish up our stay in Lecce. I had the local specialty, orecchiette rape, and eggplant Parmigiano while Brenda had a very substantial bowl of soup and another local specialty, Fave e Cicorie, which is essentially hummus made with fava beans.

    This morning we had set our alarms for 7:00 but we were awakened by brightness in our room. Fearing we had slept through our alarm, I quickly looked at my watch to discover it was only 5:00. WTF?!?

    Once the cobwebs had cleared from my sleep deprived brain, I realized the brightness was emanating from the emergency light located above the entrance door. There was no power in the building, which triggered the emergency lighting to kick in. Good idea in theory, not so good in practice if you're hoping for a good night's sleep.

    Fortunately, there was enough hot water left in the tank to allow us to have a hot shower before breakfast. This was the first day we ate at the B&B and they went all out looking after Brenda's gluten intolerance. In fact, I think there were more GF options available than there was standard fare.

    After checking out, we walked to the train station and caught the 11:13 to Brindisi that, amazingly, left and arrived exactly on schedule. We arrived at our lodging only to find we were too early and had to wait in a little cafe until our host arrived at 1:00.

    After checking in we wandered through the old town, which, after Lecce, was a little anticlimactic. The city has little charm and, very strangely, doesn’t have the historical feel that seemingly drips from many other cities of the same age and region. I say strangely because it has a long and storied past.

    The city was originally a Greek settlement long before the Roman expansion. It then became a major center of Roman naval power and maritime trade. After the Roman Empire collapsed, all hell broke loose with the city changing hands incessantly. It was conquered by Ostrogoths and reconquered by the Byzantine empire in the 6th century. In 674 it was destroyed by the Lombards. In the 9th century, a Saracen settlement existed, which had been stormed in 836 by pirates.

    In 1070, it was conquered by the Normans. After the baronial revolt of 1132, the city recovered some of the splendor of the past. The period of the Crusades saw the construction of the new cathedral and a castle. In 1227, Frederic ii of Germany erected a castle, with huge round towers, to guard the inner harbour. Like other Pugliese ports, Brindisi for a short while was ruled by Venice but was soon reconquered by Spain.
    A plague devastated Brindisi in 1348; it was plundered in 1352 and 1383; and an earthquake struck the city in 1456.

    Brindisi fell to Austrian rule in 1707–1734, and later to the Bourbons.
    You’d think that a city with a past like that would be like one big museum, but other than Frederic II’s castle, the Roman columns (actually only one column remains as the other was misappropriated by Lecce), and some old churches, there ain’t that much to see. Fortunately, we’re only here overnight as tomorrow we drive across the heel to Gallipoli, which by all accounts, has much more to offer.

    Of course, our sightseeing probably would have been more interesting on any other day of the week. In Italy most shops close at noon on Sunday and don’t re-open until Tuesday morning, so for the most part, Brindisi was a ghost town today.

    We nonetheless managed to find a little café that was open and where we ate a decent lunch. Tonight, however, we’ll be having a very simple meal of soup cooked on the stove in the kitchen of our B&B. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m getting a little pizza-ed out!
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