Rumskys Repositioned from the Caribbean to Europe and Back Again travel blog

Cool old town and Roman architecture to explore

I was a lot more excited about this column when I thought...

Lovely sunset view of the waterfront

Strolling along the waterfront like the locals

We stumble across this church, Chiesa di San Giovanni

Gorgeous interior of the 11th century Norman church is centuries old

Well preserved frescoes from the 13th century

After an early bus ride (Alberobello to Bari) followed by an uneventful intercity train ride to Brindisi, we arrived mid-afternoon. We found a nice little family-run cafeteria for lunch on our walk from the train station, just around the corner from our airbnb on Via XX Settembre. The whole point of being in Brindisi was to take yet another Grimaldi ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece. However, we were pleasantly suprised by this town!

In particular, I was pretty excited about seeing the Roman column by the waterfront, and the top of its twin in the Palazzo Granafei-Nervegna. Supposedly, both columns originally marked the Via Appia terminus, leading all the way from this port city back to Rome. The city apparently gave Lecce one of their columns in 1666 as a thank-you to their patron saint (Saint Oronzo) for relieving them of the plague. However, upon closer inspection they are now thought to date back to the 3rd century AD, and were constructed to commemorate some special occasion. Takes a bit of the steam out of it!

BUT, the nearby waterfront was a lovely place for an evening stroll, with two FREE landmarks that are worth a peak. First, right along the water, the S. Faldetta Archeological Collection offers some interesting history and artifacts, topped off by a beautiful view over the harbor to the Swabian castle beyond. The second point of interest was the Church of San Giovanni, a Norman structure built in the 11th century with eerily beautiful frescoes preserved from the 13th and 14th centuries. Nice photos of the church can be taken from the pretty courtyard in the back. Add to these points of interest some lovely restaurants and a picturesque old town, and we were happy to spend a bit of time in our last Italian city of the trip!

When we had first arrived at the train station, we noticed a sign announcing the bus stop for a bus to the pier as well as the airport. We actually saw the bus arrive and some people get on at the appointed time, so we figured we had it all worked out. Our airbnb hostess said that this bus can get quite full, so we heeded her advice and arrived at the stop early. The bus arrived and we got on it. No problem! However, as I was looking at our google maps, it looked like it was going towards the airport. I went up and conferred with the driver and his assistant. "Oh, you want to go to the PORT?" Well, YES!! By that point we had to go out to the airport, wait a few minutes for any passengers, return to the train station, and THEN we headed out to the port. I suspect that they typically just do a round trip to the airport, unless someone requests the port. So make sure to request the PORT!!!!

Despite the mix-up, we made it to the port area just fine. We could see what we thought was our Grimaldi ferry, which was a big plus. The bus dropped us off and the security guard directed us to go to a large check-in building, dodging trucks and other vehicles as they jockeyed for position. The line for Grimaldi seemed intimidatingly long until we figured out that it included all of the drivers. After a quick check around, we ended up at another window with an infinitely shorter line. Super easy check in, and then we were directed back to the boat. We checked in and headed towards our reserved seats in a chilly, very standard, ferry room. Luckily there were some other travellers in there so we had a very nice chat with them as we settled in. Meanwhile we heard some garbled announcements in Italian (and perhaps English) regarding the dining room. The boat set sail and we decided to get some lunch. Yikes! They had already closed the dining room! Now, we had been moving so quickly that we didn't really have any substantial food. Again! In fact, we hadn't really had much to eat in the morning either. Nor did we drink nearly enough of the required coffee. So as we stood there, crabby and trying to figure out what to do, a delightful Italian ferry employee appeared and asked us, in English, if we needed something to eat. Well, yes! Would we be ok with some pasta and a simple meal? Well, yes! He opened up the cafeteria, told us to sit down, and before we knew it, we had a lovely, made-to-order veggie and pasta dish followed by some tiramisu, and a bottle of sparkling water. Seriously! Prego, prego!

Again, the only difficulty with the ferry turned out to be upon our fairly late arrival. We ended up walking well over a mile south from the boat just to find the exit from the port. Out on the street, we walked back north the way we came, passed our boat, and made a mental note of the ferries to Corfu and Paxos located just across the street from our hotel. Anticipating our late arrival, we had booked a hotel (not airbnb) on booking across from the port which turned out to work out just fine. We were strategically positioned for our trip to Paxos the next day.

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