The friendliest city in Italy

I think I’ve done it.

I think I have found the friendliest city in all of Italy.

An aerial view of the city of Brindisi, Italy from the sailors memorial

For a week or so I recently have been touring around the city of Brindisi in the province of Brindisi which is located in the region of Puglia in Italy. If you have lost me already then you might understand this better – I’ve been hanging out in the heel of the boot of Italy.

The city of Brinidisi is home to roughly 90,000 people and actually doesn’t have a tourism board doing much promotion for them directly. There is however a tourism board for the region they are in, Puglia. Instead I was there as a guest of Brinidisi because of one Ms. Emma Taveri. Emma currently lives in Brinidisi and she loves her city. She wanted more people to learn about it and wanted to encourage visitors to come see the city so she gathered up some travel bloggers, got a few people and companies on board and created her own site BrinidisiIsMyDestination.com as well as created the trip that I was there to be a part of. It’s amazing how much she loves that place to go out of the way to help promote it.

The Brindisi Fountain

Not only was Emma wonderful but she introduced us to many friendly locals who ran local accommodations like Armando and Luciano at the Masseria Il Frantoio and Luigi at the nature reserve that gave us a unique perspective on how to enjoy the land and Sebastian who took us snorkeling at the reserve, the only protected way you can enjoy the waters there. We ate a lot of great food like Orecchiette pasta known to the Puglia region and a type of tomato that is only grown in one place in the whole world.

Bruschetta and Burrata in Brindisi, Italy

However as great as those moments all were none of them made me realize I had found the friendliest city in Italy until an incident.

A group of us were walking back to our hotel in the afternoon under the hot sun. I was wearing my not-so-practical flip flops and just as I was about to cross a side street I slipped and fell on the slippery stone of the sidewalk. My right ankle went one way, my left knee skidded and pounded the ground, my hands both implanted themselves into the gravel and I fell so hard even my forehead knocked on the ground.

It was one of those slow motion moments, where I could see and feel it happening but I couldn’t stop it.

Before I could even think about picking myself back up off the ground I was surrounded not only by my friends that I was with but also by at least 5 friendly Italians. One man rushed in trying to help me up, while another came with a bottle of water and a cup for me to drink and another with a chair for me to sit on in the middle of the sidewalk. The one with the water started trying to clean my knee and another crazy old man came at me with a bottle of what looked like painful peroxide, I nicely declined. I looked up from the chair I was now sitting on and even a police over had walked over to the crowd to see what was happening. I sat their embarrassed as old Italian ladies shuffled by with their groceries peeking to see what all the commotion was about.

an Italian aids a tourist in Italy

Thanks to Laurence for the photo. He promises that he made sure I was ok before running across the street to grab a shot of the action…

Shortly after I was on my feet, bleeding slightly from my knee I was able to keep walking. I was surprised and impressed by how quickly those strangers came to my aid and I think the people I was with were too. If I had fallen somewhere in North America people would probably just stare, one might say “Are you ok” as I laid there splayed on the ground rolling around and maybe one might offer to help me up. I would never expect such an out pouring of wanting to help from people back home.

Maybe there are even friendlier places in Itlay than Brindisi? But for me (or at least for now) Brindisi will be the friendliest city in Italy.

Have you ever had locals come to your aid when traveling? Where do you think is one of the friendliest places that you have traveled too?

9 Comments

  • Reply
    JennyRen
    August 17, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    We signed up for two days of private van tours from Catania, Sicily, and on the first day we had a great time, except that my mom, then in her eighties, had trouble stepping in and out of the vehicle. The next day, there was a sturdy little step-stool for her to use. Our driver had gone home the previous night and built it for her in his workshop. I can’t remember her ever being so touched!

    I’ll put in a good word for Rome, too. On the same trip, my family got lost there and asked a local on the bus to help us find a certain street . An impromptu committee of several strangers quickly took up the cause, debating among themselves, and finally designating one lady to pass up her own stop and personally guide us in the right direction. Granted, we were a particularly cute and vulnerable-looking group, with two little kids and two elderly people, all really trying to speak Italian, but it was still impressively kind.

  • Reply
    Ana
    September 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Great article :) I just came back from Southern Italy and Sicily and am very happy to report that i encountered many friendly Italian locals in every place that i went to. In Sorrento one of the friendly merchants gave us free coffee and great travel advice because we came in for lunch a couple of times. After i got lost in Palermo (on the day my phone wasn’t working) one of the locals offered me his phone and even helped me make the call to my friend because i got confused with the local area codes. He also talked to me until my friend came over about 10 minutes later to get me. Great people everywhere :)

  • Reply
    Ariana Louis
    July 26, 2013 at 3:12 am

    I’ve never heard of Brinidisi before reading your post. I would describe it as quaint with a friendly atmosphere all year round. In Asia, where I have extensively toured, there are many sleepy towns like this with an equally friendly atmosphere. Maybe you can find the friendliest cities in, oh say, Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines. And if you want to get a reliably cheap tour, go and visit TravelRepublic.co.uk to start your hunt. Thanks, Cailin!

  • Reply
    Fresh Italian made bruschetta - Dailiy Food Photo - The Taste of Travel | The Taste of Travel
    July 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    […] visiting Brindisi in the region of Puglia in Italy I was constantly eating amazing food. Honestly what else do you do […]

  • Reply
    On A Junket
    July 3, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Haven’t made it to the heel of the boot. Planning to take wife and 1 year old daughter to see where half of her ethnicity hails from (wife is cuban…so have to plan a trip there soon as well). Brinidisi looks great gonna pin that on the map!

  • Reply
    Vinnie
    June 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Never heard about Brindisi before, probably it gets over shadowed by the better known cities. Nice to know that it is full of friendly people and there are lots of delicious dishes, for which Italy is renowned.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    June 30, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Not to detract from the lovely people who helped you out I’m not sure it is a fair comparison to North America. First the ‘city’ is still relatively small, less than 100,000 people. I think this is more of a smaller city vs bigger city mentality. Most people in smaller cites would tend to be more helpful than larger in most places. Would you receive the same treatment in Rome which has nearly 3 million people? I don’t know. Nevertheless I love Italy, glad you were helped and now I know about this city. Food looks great.

    One of the friendliest cities I’ve visited is Dakar in Senegal, actually I’d say the entire country was pretty much amazing in that respect.

  • Reply
    TwoGirls
    June 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Caillin, your story sounds slightly familiar and made us smile at the memory it brings about. We spent some time in Brindisi a number of years ago on a layover for the ferry. Having only been in Italy for a short time and our interactions with Italians limited to prickly train station agents and over-priced taxi drivers we were not too disappointed to be leaving the country. However, our most charming and comforting moment happened while making the many-mile trek with our backpacks in the sweltering heat from our hostel to the ferry port. A taxi driver pulled over and insisted on taking us. We put up quite a fuss as we had no money on hand but he didn’t take no for an answer. It is still our best memory of Italy! Glad to here generosity and kindness are just an everyday part of Brindisi life!!

  • Reply
    Matthew Karsten
    June 28, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Yup, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get that level of treatment in most US cities… :D

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