Lecce to Brindisi - Early spring in southern Italy - CycleBlaze

May 22, 2006

Lecce to Brindisi

Cycling into Brindisi turns out to be easy, the traffic is minimal, again I had worried unnecessarily. On the way from Lecce we follow the coast and pass numerous modest summer holiday towns, still closed down waiting for the season to start. Surely they will be less drab when populated with happy vacationers. Altogether the coast isn't as spectacular here as south of Otranto, but it's easy cycling.  Approaching the city, the road goes past vineyards and extensive fields of artichokes, and on the periphery of the city a bit of industry.

On the way to Brindisi
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I read that on the average 1,000 visitors in transit pass through Brindisi every day and that it is the largest ferry terminal for traffic from southern Italy to Greece. Therefore I was expecting a grubby port and noisy streets. However, Brindisi is a pleasant surprise. The main avenue, lined with palm trees alternating with cafés, is a pedestrian zone paved in white stone which, together with the blue Mediterranean waters of the port at the end of Corso Garibaldi, gives the town an atmosphere of light and graciousness.

View to the Corso Garibaldi from our room
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Roman column marking the end of the Via Appia
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We find a two star hotel for 40€, Hotel Altair, which has seen better days but is comfortable enough and centrally located just off the main corso. I am fascinated by the high vaulted ceilings in our room and wonder whether this had once been a noble palazzo.

And Brindisi has a few gems for those interested in art history. It is definitely worth while to take time for sightseeing.

Portal of the little rotund Romanesque church of San
Giovanni al Sepolcro
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Detail from the portal of San Giovanni al Sepulcro, from the 12th century
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San Benedetto, built in the 11th century...
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... and its peaceful cloisters
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Detail from column in the cloisters
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On the northern perimeter of Brindisi near the airport (we pass by on our way out of Brindisi) is the Gothic-Romanesque church of Santa Maria Casale with an unusual facade and very interesting Byzantine and 14th century frescoes. Here the painting of Maria with Christ Child includes Crusaders as they must have appeared in Brindisi in the 14th century on their way to the Orient.

Santa Maria Casale
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Fresco in S. Maria Casale, Maria with Christ Child depicted with Crusaders, 14th century
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Today's ride: 59 km (37 miles)
Total: 524 km (325 miles)

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