Wednesday morning was sunny though with dark clouds hovering on the horizon and the weather report promising more afternoon and evening rain. We drove up to Bari, an old port city that from what I read had spent years being somewhat the Bronx of Puglia, now benefitting from several years of fresh initiatives and well-placed money. There is an interesting area near the port of centuries-old buildings surrounding two churches called Bari Vecchia. We’d plotting out some parking lots using Parkopedia, and once in the city dodging insane drivers, found a lot just past the Castello . We walked into the Barrio, through tiny streets lined with plant-filled balconies and strings of laundry. The doors open right onto the street, sometimes covered by a lace cloth if the family wants privacy, sometimes open. Peeks inside as we walked past showed surprisingly large rooms with steep stone staircases leading up.
We wandered over to the Basilica, where well-dressed people were greeting each other outside, waiting for the bride to arrive for her wedding. We spent some time inside, and then with everyone else went outside to see the bride arrive–in a Ferrari. The two tiny flower girls were convinced to walk down the aisle, and we continued our walk.
There are two small streets where women sell their hand-made orecchiette. This morning with the threatening rain most of them we working inside, but a few had tables outside. As we walked the winding streets, we noticed women lowering a bucket from their high balconies to a friend or delivery person on the street below, so they could haul something up without resorting to the steep stairs. We stopped for a coffee and cornetto, and sat for a while at a corner where we had a good view of the scene, everything from local kids playing soccer to a herded group from a cuisse ship, clutching their bags and cameras. There’s a lovely new seaside promenade, and unfortunately we did not get to walk over to see the fish market. From what we saw of the newer part of town, the buildings are well kept and the streets lively. I would like to spend more time in Bari.
The weather was turning worse, so we drove out and down to Polignano a Mare, a pretty town on the water. Parked, walked around admiring the houses and edges of town perched about the sea, and then found a recommended place for lunch (after the one we really wanted to go to was found with a Chiuso sign)
We ate at a table inside, with was smart because after 1/2 hour a thunderous rainstorm began, with heavy sheets of rain. We shared an antipasti of tuna crudo; and after Larry had frito misto and I had tiella, a layered dish of rice, mussels, vegetables and potato. We met the only other Americans we’ve seen in Puglia, two couples from Pittsburgh.
After lunch we drove around, following a sign for the Selva di Fasano. We went up and up and up a curving road, through pine woods and large, beautiful houses, many multi-coned trulli, some new ones, and one very odd thing–a Venetian-style villa.
Back home, we dried off the slippery stones of the roof patio, and were able to enjoy the view–and finally, a rainbow!
For dinner, we wandered through he park and over to the Tavola Calda. This is sort of an Italian fast food place, where you can get cooked food to eat there or take away. Lots of local people doing just that, and the place was doing a huge business in fried potatoes. We got a plate of ravioli, a plate of tagliata (beef strips on a bed of arugula, topped with parmesean, and a plate of sautéed zucchini and peppers. All good home cooking, huge portions, and 3-5 euros a plate. And wine. Beats McDonald’s any day.