Brindisi is often considered as a gateway, a place to get to for starting, from its port, the most eastern of Italy and famous since ancient times, to the goals of the summer holidays to the coast and the Greek islands.
Discover Brindisi between land and sea
Instead the city should be visited and discovered little by little. Our advice is to start from the sea, precisely that element that has determined its fortune and shaped the destiny. To do this, it’s enough to obtain 1 euro ticket to board the motorboat, a small vessel that connects the Waterfront with the district Casale and the quaint Fisherman’s Village.
As city buses is managed by Stp and is a very convenient means of urban transport because it covers in a few minutes the path between the two quarters for which the mainland would take a lot more time.
But for those not in a hurry as we can be used as an opportunity to look at the city from the sea plowing the waters of the messapic port, closed by the narrow Channel Pigonati. It starts from the dock Montenegro of Promenade Regina Margherita and the ticket is issued and stamped on board. The second stop is alongside the Vittorio Emenuele II gardens, there where there is the maritime station.
Then the boat makes a wide turn, passing under one of the symbols of Brindisi, the Monument to the Sailor, and heads for the district Casale, the residential area characterized by Art Nouveau villas and greenery. The service operates from 6 am to 23 pm and the races have frequencies from 10 to 20 minutes.
For us an exciting experience in which we really appreciated Brindisi from another perspective and admire the famous terminal columns of the Via Appia mirrored in the sea from their staircase and in the distance on the island of St. Andrew at the entrance of the outer harbor, alfonsino castle, called also sea castle, to distinguish it from the Swabian-Aragonese of the old town, also called large or ground.
Even the next visit, within the city and not on the sea, leads back to the history of the port which, at the time of the Crusades, became a crossroads of knights and pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre. Interesting evidence of the presence of the religious military orders in Brindisi, Teutonic, Templars and Hospitallers, is the temple of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, the circular church dating back to the eleventh century.
It was built in Norman times, when Pope Urban II (1088-1099) at the request of Count Geoffrey of Conversano, the first “dominator” of the city, stated that the episcopal see was to be reported by Oria in Brindisi, its original home. Nice to find traces of the history of our country, Conversano, in the folds of the extraordinary past of a major city like Brindisi…
Once inside you are overwhelmed by the beauty of this structure in a U-bracket plant, consisting of two concentric circles of columns reminiscent of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The double row of columns is supported by valuable Corinthian capitals, Byzantine with acanthus leaves and cubic at Norman: Giulio, our guide, explains us that in this way is expressed the clear intention of representing a synthesis of Eastern and Western architectural symbolism.
The center ring, consists of eight columns, is connected to the corresponding half-perimeter walls with rounded arches: if you place yourself at the center of the apse columns appear staggered. But at the suggestion of our guide we put our feet in the footprints drawn on the floor just to the right and, miraculously, columns and half overlap perfectly so as to be able to distinguish only the first. This is not the only “strange” inside the temple shows evidence of clear Templar origin as the Knot of Solomon engraved on a column and the Triple Cinta placed on the wall of the entrance portal.
Originally the entrance was placed in front of the altar, while today it comes from the north, in the direction of S. Giovanni square, adorned with a porch with lions and arch spire. A third portal is currently walled and opens to the rear garden.
Frescoes on the walls with images of saints dating from the twelfth-fifteenth century, including the “Deposition” dates back to the early ‘300. Still see the ruins and mosaics of the domus of imperial age (III Sec. A.D.) below the floor.
From one wonder to the other: on the advice of Giulio, we headed to the Palace Granafei-Nervegna that, beyond the curtain of its Renaissance facade with Baroque elements, holds one of the treasures of Brindisi. We’re talking about the original capital of the Roman column made of marble and exhibited in the Capital Hall in the palace of the former Court of Assizes.
You remain totally impressed by the majesty of the sculpture on which are represented Neptune and the mythological giant named Ocean. The corners are carved other figures related to the sea, as the Tritons and Nereids.
Then stop to look around and have a chat with Daniele and Chiara of Eliconarte company that manages the Bookshop Granafert-Art (Palazzo Granafei-Nervegna – Via Duomo 20, tel. +39351 2687785 – www.granaferart.it – firstname.lastname@example.org), at the library into the building which is characterized by the many cultural activities offered to adults, children and tourists, where you can buy books but also special souvenirs that recall the symbols of the city made with the new technology of 3D printer in an environmentally friendly material made from corn.
We are lovers of the reproduction of the Monument to the Sailor, but there are also trozzelle and the famous capital.
To carry away something authentic as a tour’s reminder look out in the Scuole Pie court which houses the shops of artisans: a beautiful initiative to enhance a charming place and returned to the city after long restoration.
Our visit to the city ends here for now. There will soon be another episode to tell the jewels of a city that looks like a beautiful woman with an antique charm but a little ‘overlooked.