For more than 2000 years, Brindisi has been a maritime crossroads and its lifeblood has always been the trade between the Italian peninsula and the ports of the Ionian Sea. Ferries and cargo vessels bustle between Brindisi and Greece 24 hours a day. In ancient times this was the terminus of the Via Appia, one of the Roman Empire's most important highways, and the city has a handful of ancient remnants of Rome's imperial apogee, along with some more recent memorials. The Baroque period of the 18th century has left its own stamp on towns such as Francavilla Fontana, Lecce and Ostuni. These towns are set on sunlit hilltops that rise like islands above a rolling landscape of olive groves and vineyards, and the coastline is a striking mixture of ruggedly beautiful cliffs and grottoes interspersed with a scattering of long, sandy beaches.