Brindisi is a city in the region of Puglia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Historically, the city has played an important role in trade and culture, due to its strategic position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city remains a major port for trade with Greece and the Middle East. Its industries include agriculture, chemical works, and the generation of electricity.
The city of Brindisi was the provisional government seat of the Kingdom of Italy from September 1943 to February 1944.
Brindisi is situated on a natural harbour, that penetrates deeply into the Adriatic coast of Puglia. The entire municipality is part of the Brindisi Plain, characterised by high agricultural uses of its land. It is located in the northeastern part of the Salento plains, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the Itria Valley, and the low Murge. Not far from the city is the Natural Marine Reserve of Torre Guaceto. The Ionian Sea is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) away.
Brindisi was an Ancient Greek settlement predating the Roman expansion. The Latin name Brundisium comes from the Greek Brentesion(Βρεντήσιον) meaning “deer’s head”, which refers to the shape of the natural harbor. In 267 BC (245 BC, according to other sources) it was conquered by the Romans. In the promontory of the Punta lands, which is located in the outer harbor have been identified as a Bronze Agevillage (16th century BC) where a group of huts, protected by an embankment of stones, yielded fragments of Mycenaean pottery. Herodotusspoke of the Mycenaean origin for these populations. The necropolis of Tor Pisana (south of the old town of Brindisi) returned Corinthian jars in the first half of the 7th century BC. The Brindisi Messapia certainly entertained strong business relationships with the opposite side of the Adriatic and the Greek populations of the Aegean Sea.
After the Punic Wars it became a major center of Roman naval power and maritime trade. In the Social War it received Roman citizenship, and was made a free port by Sulla. It suffered, however, from a siege conducted by Caesar in 49 BC (Bell. Civ. i.) and was again attacked in 42 and 40 BC.
Under the Romans, Brundisium – a large city in its day with some 100,000 inhabitants – was an active port, the chief point of embarkation for Greece and the East, via Dyrrachium or Corcyra. It was connected with Rome by the Via Appia and the Via Traiana. The termination of the Via Appia, at the water’s edge, was formerly flanked by two fine pillars. Only one remains, the second having been misappropriated and removed to the neighbouring town of Lecce.
Middle Ages and modern times
Later Brindisi was conquered by Ostrogoths, and reconquered by the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century AD. In 674 it was destroyed by the Lombards led by Romuald I of Benevento, but such a fine natural harbor meant that the city was soon rebuilt. In the 9th century, a Saracen settlement existed in the neighborhood of the city, which had been stormed in 836 by pirates.
In 1070, it was conquered by the Normans and became part of the Principality of Taranto and the Duchy of Puglia, and was the first rule of the Counts of Conversano and then, after the baronial revolt of 1132, city-owned by the will of Roger II of Sicily, the city recovered some of the splendor of the past during the period of the Crusades, when it regained the Episcopal See, saw the construction of the new cathedral and a castle with an important new arsenal, became a privileged port for the Holy Land. It was in the cathedral of Brindisi that the wedding of Norman Prince Roger III of Sicily took place, son of King Tancred of Sicily. Emperor Frederick II, the heir to the crown of Jerusalem and Isabella of Brienne ( 9 November 1225 ) started from the port of Brindisi in 1227 for the Sixth Crusade Like other Pugliese ports, Brindisi for a short while was ruled by Venice, but was soon reconquered by Spain.
A plague and an earthquake struck the city, in 1348 and 1456.
Brindisi fell to Austrian rule in 1707–1734, and afterwards to the Bourbons.
Between September 1943 and February 1944 the city functioned as the temporary government seat of Italy, and hosted King Victor Emmanuel III, Pietro Badoglio and a part of the Italian armed forces command in September 1943 after the armistice with Italy.
In the 21st century, Brindisi serves as the home base of the San Marco Regiment, a marine brigade originally known as the La Marina Regiment. It was renamed San Marco after its noted defense of Venice at the start of World War I.
- The Castello Svevo or Castello Grande , built by Emperor Frederick II. It has a trapezoidplan with massive square towers. Under the Crown of Aragon four towers were added to the original 13th-century structure. After centuries of being abandoned, in 1813 Joachim Murat turned it into a prison; after 1909 it was used by the Italian Navy. During World War II it was briefly the residence of King Victor Emmanuel III.
- The Aragonese Castle, best known as Forte a Mare (“Sea Fort”). It was built by King Ferdinand I of Naples in 1491 on the S. Andrea island facing the port. It is divided into two sections: the “Red Castle” (from the color of its bricks) and the more recent Fort.
- Two ancient Roman columns, symbols of Brindisi. They were once thought to mark the ending points of the Appian Way, instead they were used as a port reference for the antique mariners. Only one of the two, standing at 18.74 metres (61.5 ft), is still visible. The other crumbled in 1582, and the ruins was given to Lecce to hold the statue of Saint Oronzo (Lecce’s patron), because Saint Oronzo was reputed to have cured the plague in Brindisi.
- the Duomo (cathedral), built in Romanesque style in the 11th–12th centuries. What is visible today is the 18th-century reconstruction, after the original was destroyed by an earthquake on 20 February 1743. Parts of the original mosaic pavement can be seen in the interior.
- Church of Santa Maria del Casale (late 13th century), in Gothic-Romanesque style. The façade has a geometrical pattern of gray and yellow stones, with an entrance cusp-covered portico. The interior has early-14th-century frescoes including, in the counter-façade, a Last Judgement in four sections, by Rinaldo da Taranto. They are in late-Byzantine style.
- Church of San Benedetto, in Romanesque style. Perhaps built before the 11th century as part of a Benedictine nunnery, it has a massive bell tower with triple-mullioned windows and Lombard bands. A side portal is decorated with 11th-century motifs, while the interior has a nave covered by cross vaults, while the aisles, separated by columns with Romanesque capitals, have half-barrel vaults. The cloister (11th century) has decorated capitals.
- Portico of the Templars (13th century). Despite the name, it was in reality the loggia of the bishop’s palace. It is now the entrance to the Museo Ribezzo.
- the Fontana Grande (Grand Fountain), built by the Romans on the Appian Way. It was restored in 1192 by Tancred of Lecce.
- Piazza della Vittoria (Victory Square). It has a 17th-century fountain.
- Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (1609).
- Church of the Sacred Heart.
- Church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, with circular plan, dating from the 12th century.
- Church of the Santissima Trinità (or Santa Lucia, 14th century). It has a late 12th-century crypt.
- the Monument to Italian Sailors
Within the territory of the town of Brindisi environmental protected areas are located, some newly established:
- The Regional Natural Park of Punta della Contessa Salt: wetland of 87 hectares (214 acres) between Capo di Torre Cavallo and Punta della Contessa
- The Regional Nature Reserve Forest Cerano: a protected natural area that falls within the territory of Brindisi and San Pietro Vernotico;
- The Regional Nature Reserve Bosco of Santa Teresa and Lucci: it is a protected natural area composed of two forests whose name it bears.
- The Marine Nature Reserve Guaceto Tower: falling mostly in the municipality of Carovigno, are managed by a consortium which includes the municipalities of Brindisi, Carovigno and the WWF.
Brindisi’s cuisine is a simple with ingredients used, starting with flour or unrefined barley, which is less expensive than wheat. Vegetables, snails, and bluefish figure prominently into its cuisine. Among the recipes are worth mentioning in particular “Pettole”(fried yeast dough, sweet or savory to taste stuffed maybe with cod or anchovy, with cauliflower or broccoli), “Patani tajedda rice and mussels” (rice, potatoes and mussels), soup, fish, mashed potatoes with fava beans, broad beans and mussels, and “Racana mussels”.
Beverages, spirits, liquors
Almond milk: made by infusing water with the finely chopped almonds and then squeezing the same to expel the “milk”. The region of Puglia has entered the milk of almonds in its list of traditional Italian food products . Limoncello: a liquor made from the peel of fresh lemons and enriched with water, sugar and alcohol.
Brindisi cheeses are mostly from sheep, due to the significant ranching of sheep and goats. In the summer they produce ricotta, which can be eaten fresh or matured for a few months so that it has a stronger flavor. Typical of the winter season are the Pecorino, ricotta and strong ricotta (or cottage cheese). It is used to flavor spaghetti sauce or spread on bruschetta. Fresh popular cheeses are burrata, the junket, the Manteca, mozzarella or Fior di latte.
Vegetable products, processed or unprocessed
Vegetables are the true protagonist of the traditional diet of Salento. Depending on season, are the tops of turnips, various types of cabbage, the beet greens from the thistle, peppers, eggplant and zucchini (all served sun-dried or in olive oil), and artichokes. There are also wild vegetables used in traditional cooking such as chicory, dandelion (or zangune), wild asparagus, the Wild mustard, the thistle, the lampascioni also called pampasciuni or pampasciuli, and capers. Frequent, in the Brindisi kitchen, is the use of green or white tomatoes: mainly used for tomato sauce but they are also consumed in olive oil, after a process of natural drying. Significant is also the consumption of green and black olives, crushed or in brine. Finally, legumes such as beans, peas and Vicia faba, eaten fresh or dried in the spring and during the winter season. Among the dishes prepared with fruit are quince, baked figs and dried figs (prepared with a filling of almonds), jam with orange and lemon, and fig jam.
Pasta, pastry and confectionery
Pasta and bread is made with unrefined flour, and thus takes on a dark colour. Durum wheat is mixed with traditional meal. Special local dishes include lasagna with vegetables, cavatelli, orecchiette (stacchioddi in Brindisi dialect) and ravioli stuffed with ricotta.
In breadmaking, local custom favours the use of durum wheat, bread flour and barley bread. For bread made with yeast (called criscituni) and cooked on an oven stone, Brindisi bakers use bundles of olive branches to give the bread a particular scent. One type of traditional bread is made with olives (called puccia). It is made with a much more refined wheat flour than for ordinary bread, to which are added black olives. Also important are frisella, a sort of dehydrated hard bread which can be stored for a long time, and tarallini, also easily stored for long periods. The pucce and uliate cakes are also typical. Among local desserts the central place is occupied by almond paste, obtained by grinding shelled almonds and sugar. Another specialty is cartellate, a pastry, particularly prepared around Christmas, made of a thin strip of a dough made of flour, olive oil, and white wine that is wrapped upon itself, intentionally leaving cavities and openings, to form a sort of “rose” shape; the dough is then deep-fried, dried, and soaked in either lukewarm vincotto or honey.
In the area of Brindisi are produced Aleatico di Puglia Doc, Ostuni Doc, Brindisi Rosso DOC, Rosato Brindisi DOC and Puglia IGT. Some grape varieties grown in Brindisi include:
- Malvasia Nera di Brindisi,
The Brindisi DOC produces both red and rose wines from grapes limited to a harvest yield of 15 tonnes/ha and must produce a wine with a minimum 12% alcohol level. The wines are usually blends made predominantly from Negaroamaro and Malvasia Nera but Sangiovese is allowed to compose up to 10% of the blend with Montepulciano allowed to compose up to another 20% (or 30% if Sangiovese is not included). If it is to be a Reserva, the wine is aged a minimum of 2 years before release and must attain a minimum alcohol level of 12.5%.