I remember learning about the Appian Way when I was a slip of an 11 years old girl and Mr Taylor was my social studies teacher. All these years later, I think it’s totally cool that the Appian Way terminates here in Brindisi and I am really actually here. He would be so proud.
Once upon a time Brindisi was the provisional governmental seat of the great Italian kingdom. The construction of arterial roads was mastered by the Romans, reaching out across the nation – expanding the great Roman empire’s power, borders and reach. The most famous historic and strategic of all Roman Roads was the Appian Way. It was a main route for military supplies and was constructed in 312 BC.
All Roads Lead To Rome
The Appian Way (aka the Via Appia) terminates here in Brindisi. This is where the well-known expression “All Roads Lead to Rome” comes from. There remain two ancient Roman columns. They are the symbols of Brindisi and officially mark the end of the Appian Way. The one column that fully remains stands at 18.75 metres tall. The one to the right crumbled in 1582. Our cruising cat Waiata is currently moored on the town quay, merely 50 metres from the stairs that lead to the columns. They are illuminated at night and more impressive than my photography would lead you to think.
The Appian Way has been the scene of many notable historic events and is the true subject of lore. The great gladiator Spartacus (111BC-71BC) fought against oppression and defeated many Roman armies along the Appian Way. The town was under the dictator Julius Caesar’s siege in 49 BC and Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus signed the Treaty of Brundisium the same year. In much more modern times, the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics marathon included a section of the Appian Way, such is it’s importance in Roman history.
There has been a village, town or city here forever. It is known that as early as 267 BC the Roman’s conquered this land and it became a Latin colony. Yet much earlier than this, the outer harbour has yielded Mycenaean pottery and evidence of villages that date back to the Bronze age. Today she shows off her promenade that aprons the harbour and we are amused that people walk and take selfies in front of our girl Waiata here.
The grand bell-towered Duomo (cathedral) is the medieval heart of historic Brindisi. Built in the Roman style, it was constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries with the foundation stone laid in 1089. It has been completely rebuilt over time and due to earthquakes.
The Cathedral has witnessed crusaders and pilgrims. It was the site of Emperor Frederick II’s marriage to the adolescent Jolanda of Brienne in 1225 and the scene of the theatrical coronation of Roger, who was anointed the King of Sicily in 1191. There are saintly statues including Pietro, Paolo and Francesco by renowned sculptor Alessandro Fiordegiglio
The Duomo Piazza (cathedral square) is surrounded by many old palaces and stately buildings. If you like you can join me for just 36 seconds and check out the square in the YouTube below.
Virgil (The Poet, Not the Thunderbird)
Long before Virgil Tracy was the coolest of the Thunderbirds, there was a Roman Poet named Virgil. He was the high-flying cool dude of his time. Virgil is ranked as among the greatest of the Roman poets. His works are considered to have revolutionised Latin poetry. His epic compositions “The Eclogues“, “Georgics”, and above all the “Aeneid” became standard texts in school curricula with which all educated Romans are likely familiar. Even today, his poetic commentaries are considered to have a deep influence on western literature. According to scholars, the famous poet Virgil died here in 19 BC. The building in which he is said to have ended his earthly days is on the far right of this blog’s home page image – in the yellow building with the wrought iron terrace where the street lamp is.
Virgil was also the name of the most artistic of the Tracy’s. Whilst he wasn’t exactly a poet, the fictional Virgil’s artistic talent was demonstrated when he gifted his commissioned artwork “Skyship One” to Brains in Thunderbirds 6. Did you know that The Thunderbirds’ Virgil was named by his parents after Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. A little known fact is that Grissom (who is my personal favourite astronaut) was a prankster who once shared a corned beef sandwich that was smuggled onboard a Gemini 3 space mission. The Government of the day were not amused!
Today’s Track – Thunderbirds Are Go
A kind reminder that if you enjoyed this blog please be sure to share it. Our boat’s name ‘Waiata’ means music or song in Māori. It is pronounced ‘why-ahh-ta’. Today’s song is such a super cool track by “Busted”. It is totally worth the watch and will take you back to your childhood when “Thunderbirds were GO”.
“Don’t be mad, please, stop the hating
Just be glad that they’ll be waiting
Friends we have are ever-changing
No, now the lid’s about to blow
When the Thunderbirds are go
Thunderbirds are go
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go”