I think I’ve done it.
I think I have found the friendliest city in all of Italy.
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.
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.
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.
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?