Brindisi has een known as the «Gateway to the East» since ancient times, when it became an important port, first for the Roman troops, and later for the merchants of Venice. This port in Apulia even today provides important travel connections to and from a long list of sea and airports.
The shoreline is low and sandy for the whole stretch of coast, favored by a mild climate. Charming vacation destinations, along with one of the major natural areas of the region and an important spa, attract tourism to Brindisi's coastal strip, with many important traces left from ancient times.
Much of the hinterland is occupied by the Murge Platueau that, in the north, meets the Itria Valley, known as the "Land of the Trulli." Cultivated fields alternate, in a mosaic of colors, with large expanses of olive groves, vineyards and colorful orchards, interrupted only by roads and sporadic clearings. Ancient villages dominated by fortresses and watchtowers tell the story of Frederick II of Swabia and the Angevin domination, but even more ancient testimonies relate the presence of the prehistoric Messapian Civilization.
The city of Brindisi, located on the Adriatic coast, lies between two deep bays linked to the open sea by a narrow and deep channel, overlooked by the Castello Rosso (Red Castle), named for the particular color of the stone used to build it. The Swabian Castle, rather, overlooks the western channel of the port and today is a venue for major cultural events. Among the sights not to be missed, the Church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, with a beautiful and finely-decorated marble portal, and the Colonna Romana (Roman Column), once flanked by a "twin" that today is part of the structure of the famous Colonna di Sant’Oronzo (Column of St. Orontius) in Lecce.
The beautiful city of Ostuni stands out against the intense green of the olive trees, with the whitewashed old town crossed by a maze of alleys and courtyards, low houses and narrow passagways that are overlooked by the majestic Cathedral.
Beautiful sandy beaches are scattered along the coast, lapped by the clear water of the Adriatic Sea; colorful patches of the Mediterranean brush and the plantlife of the seabeds contrast with sometimes sandy, sometimes rocky shores.
To the north of Ostuni lies one of the most interesting natural areas in the region: the WWF Oasis of Torre Guaceto. The seawater rushes in toward the cliffs with its scrub, dunes and expanses of reed beds. This territory serves as an ideal habitat for snipes, wild ducks, nightingales and amphibian species, as well as for marine plant species, including meadows of Neptune Grass, sea fans and coral.
The Egnazia Archaeological Park holds important finds dating back to the Roman age, and even remains from earlier settlements. Continuing the journey inland, Cisternino is the “capital” of the Itria Valley, where white houses, narrow alleyways, courtyards and staircases, arches and balconies adorned with colorful flowers together create this small architectural jewel. Historic Medieval and Renaissance buildings make walking through the streets of the old town an even more interesting experience.
Here, the Middle Ages find their highest expression in the ancient fortified towns of the Murge Plateau. The Castle of Oria, built in the 13th Century by Frederick II of Swabia, was designed in the shape of a triangle, while the Torre dello Sperone (Tower of the Spur) marks its summit, similar to the prow of a ship. The Cathedral and its beautiful polychrome dome and two towers, the bell and the clock towers, stand out gracefully from the rooftops of the town. Nearby, the Sanctuary of San Cosimo shows off its large loggia and Redeemer statue.
Take a tour of the small towns in the area, such as Mesagne, San Vito dei Normanni, Francavilla Fontana and Ceglie Messapica, that feature treasures of art and history, and testimonies from a way of life long forgotten.
Children and adults alike will enjoy a visit to the largest wildlife park in Italy, located a few kilometers from Fasano. Tigers, lions, bears, elephants, antelopes, giraffes, bison, deer, zebras and camels are free to roam amidst the park's lush Mediterranean vegetation. Visitors can drive along the marked trails to admire these beautiful animals up close. The park also offers the opportunity to visit the bird and tropical rooms, the metrozoo and the ocean area, each used to accommodate diverse species: parrots, zebra finches, alligators, snakes, bears, hippos, dolphins and penguins. In addition to the safari park, a large amusement park holds over 25 major attractions for all ages.
Healing therapies and beauty treatments to restore one's physical and psychological balance are offered by the spas of Torre Canne, located in a splendid park with conifers, and a small lake fed by underground springs famous for their therapeutic properties.
The WWF Oasis of Torre Guaceto offers interesting and fun opportunities to spend one’s free time immersed within nature at its most extraordinary. Paths and cattle drive trails are ideal for practicing cycle trekking or taking long and relaxing walks. The crystal clear waters of the sea, with their play of colors ranging from emerald green to dark blue, are the ideal place to enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling, and simply admire the beauty of the seabed. Moreover, why not try a full day of yoga, immersed in the silence of this beautiful natural environment?
In summer, in a cheerful atmosphere and with a programme full of musical events and folklore, the Sagra popolare “Vecchi Tempi (the "Old Times" Folkloric Fair) takes place in Ostuni evoking colors, flavors, and fragrances from the past. Walking along the alleys of the village, one can relive scenes of rural life - set in the faithfully-reconstructed workshops - and enjoy delicious tastes of the traditional local cuisine. The most important moment of the celebrations is the traditional procession known as Cavalcata di Sant’Oronzo ("The Horse Ride of St. Orontius").
The flavors of the land of Brindisi reflect the identity of the best culinary traditions from Apulia. Fish, fresh and tasty, is the main element of the local cuisine. Urchins, oysters, grouper and swordfish steaks, sea bass and, of course, bluefish are prepared as simple dishes and served with seasonal vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, wild vegetables, broad beans and the famous blue sweet pea.
Vineyards and olive groves ensure the production of high quality DOC wines, and high-quality extra-virgin olive oils, protected in this area by the appellation DOP Collina di Brindisi.
Just as excellent is the production of fresh or mature cheeses made from the milk of local farms, such as ricotta, cacioricotta and pecorino (sheep's milk cheese).
And, according to tradition, focaccia, frise, bread and taralli accompany with their fragrance any dish, from appetizers to soups, from main courses to side dishes.
The mandorla riccia (curly almond) is a typical confectionery product from Francavilla Fontana, crisp outside and crunchy inside. The biscotto cegliese with toasted almonds, cherry and lemon marmalade is a tasty pastry made in Ceglie Messapica.