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May 22, 2006

Lecce - Brindisi, 59 km

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 are 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 Brindisi we ride through some industry, but little traffic.

I read that on the average 1,000 visitors in transit pass through Brindisi every day and that it is the largest ferry terminal 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 by 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 brightness.


View from our hotel window


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 in the sights.

Portal of the little rotund Romanesque church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro

Detail from the portal of San Giovanni al Sepolcro

San Benedetto, built in the 11th century...

...and its peaceful cloisters

On the northern perimeter of Brindisi near the airport (we pass by on our way out of Brindisi the next day) 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.

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