*This blog contains affiliate partnerships. Every little bit (and I mean little) helps me continue to provide free travel tips and advice. Thank you for supporting ©Travel with Wendy.
Bella Brindisi, Italy this beautiful part of Italy is still yet to be discovered and just gorgeous. I love visiting new places and well, I like visiting old places too. Definitely, Italy’s bootheel, Brindisi is a new favorite gem. I fell in love with this part of Italy, but who is kidding who, I love ALL of ITALY. Unquestionably, the excitement begins when I start planning a trip to an unknown place and then pull out the map and discover its location.
Without a doubt, I know this practice is haphazard but I’m also o.k with that too. Most people look at the map, then book the ticket. Where is the fun in that? HA! Some people would say that is not safe. I am far from safe. Consequently, Jon is safe. He balances me. He also gave me two “small trips” for Christmas this year. One to Budapest, Hungary and the other to southern Italy. Initially, my first flight search was successful, Brindisi, Italy for about €60 per person round trip from Stuttgart on Eurowings. was in February but it was still Italy. Italy is great anytime.
Then, I began doing some research and found an article from the New York Post about Puglia being the top 52 places in the world to visit in 2019. Excitement grew. Before long, I began building the itinerary for touring and exploring this southern part of Italy. Along with this research I also read in my Lonely Planet to find out what to expect.
The peninsula of Salento is the “boot heel” of Italy and covers mid-heel to the bottom and loops around. We were lucky enough to see a good deal of it, in our four day visit. As soon as we arrived in the Puglia (pronounced Poolia) airport, there is a welcome sign – #weareinpuglia. This airport was easy, clean and under 5km from the heart of the city and harbor.
Brindisi at Night!
Jon and I go back and forth between Airbnb’s, guest houses/B&Bs/Agriturismos and booking a hotel room. So this time we decided on an Airbnb in the heart of old town, Brindisi. We have learned also in Italy, when it’s just the two of us, getting up and making our own coffee and making breakfast at our own time.
As you can see, our Airbnb was adorable and although we had a little confusion on check-in, however, it all worked out great. Our apartment had a perfect location, parking was right around the corner was metered but not too expensive.
All that HISTORY & so clean
I must admit after visiting many, many older European cities I have come to expect a certain amount of destruction and debris. It is only natural when people have occupied cities for thousands of years and been occupied/not occupied by enemies, had war/peace, built industry, loss, and growth to have some level of environmental and infrastructure issues.
I was absolutely impressed with this region for its cleanliness and sparkling streets in Brindisi and Lecce. I have visited many towns of Italy and was super psyched to snap these evening photos that look like I might have tweaked them in Photoshop, but I did not. There was a certain level of comfort in walking the streets at all times of the day and night.
Illustrated like a scene from a rom-com Italian movie, walking the streets of Brindisi was so romantic. The history of Salento is incredible dating back to before the Norman kings and before it belonged to the province of Albania. Then it became a Greek settlement and then finally conquered by the Romans in the 12th century and remained Italian, thereafter. I will admit the accent threw me for a loop, but changing hands that many times, must have been confusing. Still the Italian rolled off their tongues for like a serenading romantic song, “O… Solo Mio.”
Around the City
St. Peter’s & Theatre Archeological Site
In addition to St. Peters, the Theatre Archeological site was within walking distance from our apartment both were unbelievable. Here, Schiavoni, as the Adriatic Slavs called it was a settlement of Brindisi and the church and theatre was the center of community for the city. If you have time to tour this place it is super neat and free to walk around. Donations were accepted.
St. Johns is partially restored church from the Crusades and the Norman princes are magnificent to tour. Also free, but happily donations received, pictures are allowed without flash. Descriptions of the architectural design are similar to the Holy Sepulchre from Jerusalem. The garden wasn’t open this time of year, but is supposed to be incredible. Frescoes of Christian saints from the 13th and 15th centuries are painted on the wall and are still visible.
Car Rental & Parking Tips
First, when you are renting in Italy, I recommend renting the smallest car you can and I use to make sure it was an automatic transmission but after driving the beast (my 9 passenger van) I prefer standard now. Automatic transmission cars in Italy are also harder to come by and typically more expensive.
- Don’t get the extra, extra insurance if you can help it. We just got the one level up insurance for theft, minor damage, etc. It was €12/day extra and a €400 deductible. That may sound a bit high, but I like having the freedom of having our own car and was not sure about the trains yet. The total rental for the car was under €100 for four days.
- It was a small car and I usually take a picture of it upon check in to show no-damage and we both agree. (Car rental company and me)
- Upon return, get a signed receipt and a confirmation “no damage” occurred, companies are practicing this now and should give you a computer-generated receipt, right on the spot
Wine & Dine
Primitivo and Nero are the wines of the region. Both wines were interesting and different, and I preferred the Primitivo a bit better than Nero. Nero wine was more light and had blackberry overtones and was sweeter. Definitely, my wine tastes have totally changed in wine in the past five years. Since we’ve moved to Europe, I have made friends with vintners, harvested grapes and visited vineyards throughout every grape growing season. It has been an education. When wine costs the same as water, you switch to wine or beer over here. When we lived in the States, I was a cheap wine girl. Wine is pretty cheap over here too, it’s just REALLY REALLY good.
Since downloading the Vivino App I have had a lot of fun researching, comparing and developing my palate. If you’re interested my handle is Travel with Wendy and I’m 30% Italian Barbera! It classifies you according to the wine you rate. I’m ranked 8,200 so it looks like I have a few people who outrank me.
The cuisine in Salento reminds me a little like Croatia and the Adriatic coast. Our menu was plentiful of beef, pork and fish. So if you are vegetarian you might be out of luck. However, since I am trying to make healthier choices I ate quite a bit of Melanzana (eggplant) and grilled zucchini which was delicious and simple. Here are a few restaurants we enjoyed.
La Locanda del Porto
La Locanda del Porto was recommended by our Airbnb hosts and also some locals. Our hosts said it was popular with tourists. Definitely, this is not my favorite recommendation phrase. Alternatively, I prefer, ” This place is popular with locals.” However, I wanted to be respectful and so Jon and I try it out. Here is my review of La Locanda. The location and service are perfect. The restaurant was empty at 7:00 p.m. and filled at 8:00 p.m. so I think it is popular with the locals too.
Our pizzas were good but not fantastic like I’ve come to expect in Italy. But it was very inexpensive for a “tourist” spot. We both ate plentiful portions for under €30 for drinks, pizzas, and appetizer so yea, it’s a keeper.
If you travel with a meat lover like I do, sometimes we have to visit a restaurant just because of the smells coming from it. HA! So with that Jon and I had to just try Escosazio’s. Absolutely wonderful, so we made reservations quickly at Escosazio’s.
Escosazio’s is a typical restaurant in the region, they have a butcher at the front entrance. As we entered the restaurant, we stopped at the “butcher counter” to choose our meat (I had a shish kebab type thing) and then we made our way to the table to choose the sides and wine from a separate menu. This style of restaurant is quite common throughout the region of Brindisi. I think it would be an ordering nightmare for back-of-the-house but that’s the restaurateur in me.
This was my favorite meal in Brindisi. The kebabs were pork (I think shoulder pieces) wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with gorgonzola cheese. Unbelievably YUM!
Notes on Italy
- Alternatively, Italians really don’t eat “breakfast” like we eat in the States. It is mostly sweets and pastries. These delicacies are delicious and yummy. There are so many treats available it is hard to choose, dolce, sweet.
- Finally, another travel tip is about tipping. Ultimately tipping is a personal preference. This travel tip seems to trip people up. In several European cultures leaving a large tip is considered insulting. Yes, insulting. Ultimately, tipping in restaurants is just not culturally accepted. The practice of leaving a large tip is quite surprising to the waitstaff. An appropriate tip would be 10%. Also, consider rounding up your bill as many restaurants include a service charge in the menu items.
- Practice your Italian. Without a doubt, learning Italian can be a challenge, like German there are many different dialects because of the border influences. You may “capita” but “parle” is tougher. Some areas, like Lecce speak English everywhere but in Brindisi, Alberobello and Putignano it is exclusively Italian.
Puglia is beautiful and everywhere we went people wanted to know where we were from and how we came to be in Salento in this season. All I can say is, “I’m glad I am in this place in my travel journey, it’s the perfect place to be.”
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!