For those seeking out the raw soul of Southern Italy, the whirling port city of Brindisi is the perfect escape from the tourist trail, where you can immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Italian life in all its glory. Thanks to its prime position overlooking the ocean you expect an abundance of seafood prepared to a premium standard, while for the dedicated food lovers the locally produced ranges of olive oils, olives and speciality sweets are not to be missed.
This proud and bustling port city in Puglia is a little off the main tourist routes. For those wanting to experience the soul of southern Italy, it's a lively place to soak up some local culture. Nearly all the accommodation is found in the city's historic centre. If you've got cash to splash, Zenthe by Sartoria Privata (Via Montenegro 45) is in prime position with design-led, contemporary rooms that overlook the harbour, while Santo Stefano Luxury Rooms (Via Scrasce 54) has white-on-white interiors which assure a soothing stay. Neat and tidy Hotel Barsotti (Via Cavour 1) is a solid choice if you're looking in the mid-range bracket.
Look out for some of Puglia's interesting pottery, and cartapesta (papier-mâché) ornaments from nearby Lecce. There are also plenty of locally produced olive oils and olives, cheeses and speciality sweets to take home. The city centre's fresh food market (Piazza Mercato) is the best place to search out those foodie presents. It's open in the mornings from Monday to Saturday. Grottaglie (42km from Brindisi) is one of southern Italy's most famed centres for ceramic production and is definitely worth a day trip to browse 'Potter's Row' where the artisans workshops are based.
Expect lots of seafood and the freshest seasonal vegetables. In particular, the local speciality dishes of orecchiette (pasta shaped like ears) and tiella di riso patate e cozze (a dish of rice, potatoes and mussels) are worth sampling. Some of the best seafood in town is served up at Trattoria da Vito (Corso Garibaldi 72) and in the historic dining room at Marc Aurelio (Via Ferrante Fornari 26). But don't miss cosy Trattoria Pantagruele (Via Salita di Ripalta 1) which is also home to succulent fish dishes. If seafood isn't your thing, La Cantina Ti l'Artisti (Via de Terribile 11) is a laid-back place to tuck into Puglia's traditional pastas and stews.
Negroamaro Wine Festival
Championing the local wine industry, this festival brings the taste of the vineyards into the city centre. The annual La Selezione del Sindaco international wine competition is held concurrently but there are plenty of less formal wine-tasting events as well.
Procession of Corpus Domini
This religious ceremony supposedly has its roots in the 13th century when King Louis IX of France landed in Brindisi after the Seventh Crusade. The procession begins in central Piazza Duomo before threading through town on its way to the cathedral.
San Teodoro D'Amasea
St Theodore (the patron saint of Brindisi) is celebrated annually during the first week of September. Nearly all of the action takes place harbourside from where a colourful procession, carrying effigies of the saint, begins its snaking journey to the city's cathedral.
The top event on Brindisi's cultural calendar is this festival of classical music which features everything from chamber music concerts to opera.
Festival Blues Brindisi
Shining a light over the long winter evenings, this blues music festival attracts both local and international musicians to the city for an exciting programme of concerts.