Destination focus • June 2017
Slower paced than its bigger and shinier Italian sister cities, Brindisi – a new British Airways route from London – has long been a gateway to Puglia, aka the ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy. But with its fantastic seafood restaurants, historical buildings and a lively promenade, the ancient port city should be a destination to explore in its own right, says Brindisi airport duty manager Gabriele Spadoni
There’s no better place to eat than the old market square Piazza Mercato – it’s where you’ll find the locals in the evenings. Visit Trattoria Siamo Fritti and sample incredible yet affordable seafood – the spaghetti alla vongola (with clams) is a must. The restaurant is always busy so arrive early. Over in the fishing quarter of Sciabbiche, seafood restaurant La Locanda del Porto is a hit with locals and tourists alike.
The city is delightfully compact and easy to navigate on foot, and its narrow cobbled streets are full of hidden gems and architectural delights. Seek out the 16th-century Palazzo Granafei-Nervegna on Via Duomo, a beautiful former palace with exquisite hand-painted walls that hosts art, history and photography exhibitions.
The Grande Albergo Internazionale is one of the city’s grandest hotels, directly in front of the harbour. The ornate rooms have great views of the Monumento al Marinaio D’Italia, a rudder-shaped monument dedicated to the 6,000 Italian sailors who perished during the First World War
To experience local life, walk along the seafront Lungomare Regina Margherita, stopping off at Bernardi for a drink – its high-arched ceilings create a relaxed and romantic atmosphere. Then head back out onto the boardwalk and tuck into authentic Italian ice cream at one of the many gelatarias.
The wider Puglia region has an ancient history of winemaking, thanks to the hot, dry summers and relatively flat land, and you can find vineyards on the outskirts of Brindisi, such as the family-owned Botrugno Sergio Azienda Vitivinicola. The area is known for full-bodied reds, so try the DOC Brindisi Rosso.
The best way to see the city in its full glory is by a ferry-boat trip around the harbour. You can cross from one shore to the other and explore the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Casale – be sure to climb to the top for a beautiful view of the old town – and surrounding fishing villages such as Villagio Pescatori, where you can see fishermen at work.