Tag Archives: Bari

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Bari Night time Puglia Italy

The main square was  busy with a tsunami of people coming in waves into the old town and then just walking backwards and forwards like an Atlantic tide.

This was the  passeggiata where local people descend on the town at dusk and just walk and sometimes stop to talk. Some people had bought fold up garden chairs and were just sitting and chatting, others were playing cards, some were hanging around the bars but mostly they were just walking up and down and around and around and they were still coming in as we battled against the flow unfamiliar as we were with the pavement protocol.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

Bari Airport Railway Metro

Beginning of a Train Journey…

It turned out that this railway line was only opened six weeks earlier on 1stAugust and was so new that there were still staff on hand to help people with the ticket purchase procedure at the automatic machines.  The journey took no longer than fifteen minutes and outside the station we emerged into the balmy night air of Bari and being fairly confident of the location of the hotel we strode past the taxi rank, ignoring the various offers of a lift and walked in the direction of the old town.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community – Italy and Puglia, People

 

Molfetta Godfathers

 

 

Italy and Puglia, Assessment and Review

Puglia Map

“Evidently, the God of the Jews didn’t know Puglia, otherwise he wouldn’t have given his people Palestine as the Promised Land.”                                            Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Puglia (1194 to 1250 AD).

As we waited at Bari Palese airport for the Ryanair flight home we began to review the holiday to Puglia and to come to some sort of agreed assessment.

Puglia Map

We had travelled to Italy before, to Pisa and Tuscany, Naples and Sorrento, the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, Rome of course, to Venice and the Veneto and the EPCOT World Showcase, but we had never before visited the far south east, the heel of the boot.

Despite almost being put off by the guide books we liked the city of Bari with its mazy old town and eclectic night life and one thing I would say to anyone thinking of going to Puglia then do not miss out the capital city of the region and don’t be scared off by the reviews.

The food was wonderful and although we didn’t have time to try all of the two hundred varieties of pasta I am certain that they would all be just as delicious as those that we managed to sample – the sea food pastas were especially good.  We also liked the pizzas and I have to confess that my favourite meal was the horse meat stew in Lecce but please do not tell my granddaughters.

Our accommodation was generally good – all booked in advance through www.booking.com my favourite hotel booking website.  The exception was the awful dump where we stayed in Ostuni, the Nonna Isa bed and breakfast and the best was probably the Grand Hotel in Lecce but that is a tough decision to make.

Along the coast we liked Polignano a Mare and Molfetta but we didn’t care that much for Monopoli but that might be unfair because neither of us were at our best that day on account of the stress of driving in Italy which wasn’t a great deal of fun and one thing for sure is that I won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

Polignano a Mare Puglia Italy

Although we didn’t like driving we did like travelling by train and Trenitalia was generally efficient, value for money and on time as we used the railway to travel from Bari to Polignano, to Lecce, Ostuni and then back to Bari with one final excursion to Molfetta.

Lecce was a revelation and the ‘Florence of the South’ did not disappoint us with a wonderful Baroque old town, good restaurants and a vibrant night life and we both agreed that we would really have liked a little extra time in that wonderful city.

We didn’t like the taxis because generally I resent paying the exorbitant fares but we had no real choice for our last three days in Bari because I had chosen a hotel that was some way out of the city.  But it was a nice hotel and they gave me a discount on the final bill and that was enough to cover the cost of the taxi fares so I shouldn’t complain.

La Città Bianca, the White Cities, were a bit of a mixed bag.  Ostuni was lovely but busy, Locorotondo was probably the best of them all (in our opinion) because it was less touristy and had a delightful centro storico.  The one that we liked least was Martina Franca but once again this might be unfair, it was another day where we were stressed from driving, the weather was quite poor and we arrived in the middle of the afternoon siesta.

Ostunia Puglia Italy

And we didn’t like the siesta period very much because every day the towns and villages just put up a collective closed sign, locked the doors and the people retreated to their bedrooms.  We have come across the siesta before of course but never as rigidly and as complete as in Puglia.

The highlight of the fortnight was rather predictably the tourist town of Alberobello and our four night stay in a traditional whitewashed, stone-capped Trulli house.  Four nights was probably one too many because there are only so many times that you can walk around the same streets but one thing you can do over and again is go to the same restaurant and we thoroughly enjoyed our four meals at the Foggia trattoria where the chef obligingly gave me some important tips on making a perfect risotto.

Other things we liked were the Peroni beer, the ice cream and the Amaretto.

So that is our short assessment of Puglia and as we pulled our list together we both came to the same conclusion.  We had enjoyed ourselves but this sort of vacation didn’t really suit our travelling style.  For us Italy is a great place for a short weekend break to one of the famous cities but not for driving or beaches so the next time we go to Italy it will be for just a couple of nights or so and we will most likely return to Greece again next year for our main late summer holiday.

If you have been to Puglia and agree or disagree with us then please leave your views and comments.

Trulli House, Puglia Italy, Alberobello

Click on any image to scroll through the pictures…

Italy and Puglia, Bari and the Mafia

Bari Puglia Italy

The Hotel Terranobile Metaresort was practically empty this morning and we shared the whispering breakfast room with just two German backpackers.  It was our final day and with a late evening flight home there was a full day to plan ahead for.  We thought we might spend the morning at the hotel and then the final afternoon in Bari with a last meal in Bari Vecchia.

Shortly after breakfast the Germans checked out and left on their way to Polignano and except for the two of us the garden and swimming pool was completely deserted.  I had arranged with the hotel that we could stay a couple of hours beyond check-out time but the place became so quiet and seemingly abandoned I became concerned that the staff had locked up and gone home and that we were stranded here.  So I went to check – every half an hour!

Finally it was time to go and after we had packed I went to reception to check out and was presented with a bill for a three night stay which I was prepared to pay but cheekily asked if there was a discount on account of the fact that all of the advertised facilities were closed. 

The desk clerk told me to wait while he disappeared into an adjacent office and came back with the good news that the hotel director had agreed that we should only pay for two nights and that was a lot more generous than I was expecting and I was especially pleased about that because the reduction in hotel cost was going to cover all of the taxi fares.  In two minutes the hotel just secured themselves a review score of 10!

While we took the taxi ride into the city the thought still nagged away in my brain that  €15 seemed rather expensive to go three kilometres compared to the €50 airline flight to go two thousand.  To put that into perspective I calculate that if we were going to the moon it would cost €3,000,000 by Bari Taxi but only €10,000 by Ryanair.

Bari Puglia Italy

The taxi driver dropped us at the edge of the old town and looking at out bulging bags took our fare and told us to be careful.  It was that threat of crime thing again and I remembered this bit of scaremongering advice from one of the travel websites: “The city of Bari, is a great place to visit, however, it can be quite a disaster if you don’t plan ahead. Bari is a city with lots of pickpockets. If you find yourself in a bad area, with a purse or valuables, such as watches, prepare to lose them.” 

Now, I have been robbed in Barcelona and a pick-pocket helped himself to Kim’s camera on the Athens metro but I have to say that never at any time did I feel uncomfortable or threatened in Bari or anywhere else in Puglia for that matter and the only robbers that we came across were the taxi drivers.

I wondered where all of these crime stories came from and it seems that is linked to Mafia style crime syndicates that operate across all of southern Italy.  Sicily has the Cosa Nostra, Naples the Camorra, Calabria, the toe of Italy, has the ‘Ndrangheta and Puglia has the Sacre Corona which allegedly has control of the criminal underworld in Bari and elsewhere.

Molfetta Godfathers

With only an afternoon to go and by now an empty wallet I was going to concern myself too much about that right now so we walked along the main street and sat in a leafy university park for a while and then made our way to our favourite trattoria in the old town, L’Osteria del Borgo Antico and took a table in the shade.

It is said that there are as many as two hundred different styles of pasta in Puglia but it is most famous for a regional variety called oriecchiette which translates as ‘small ear’ on account of the fact that the shape resembles that facial feature so as this was the last day I decided that it was time to try it.  I know that pasta is supposed to be different shapes for different sauces but to be honest it all tastes the same to me and oriecchiette was no exception to this but it did come with an exceptionally fine sauce and I was happy to declare it a very good choice.

The clock was ticking now and after stretching out lunch as long as we could and as the trattoria started to close down for the siesta we left Bari old town and wheeled our luggage back towards the central station where we caught the metro to the airport and checked in with plenty of time to spare and we used that time to review our time in Southern Italy and to make our final assessments. 

I will tell you about that in the final Puglia post next time.

Oriecchette pasta Bari Puglia Italy

Italy and Puglia, Cathedrals, Churches and Street Lamps

Lecce Puglia Italy

Lecce Puglia Italy

Alberobello Puglia Italy

 

Italy and Puglia, Molfetta, Fish and a Forgotten Hotel

Molfetta Puglia Italy

It was only a short walk from the Garibaldi monument to the seafront and we emerged from the tangle of streets onto a sweeping crescent of shingle and blue sea that was being softly caressed by a gentle breeze and Kim spotted a bar and as her hunger register was moving from peckish to hungry it seemed prudent to walk in that general direction.  It was siesta time of course and the kitchen was closed but the helpful staff provided us with little bowls of what you might call Italian tapas.

After the emergency snack break we walked towards the old town where there was a lot of activity erecting scaffolding and electric lights in preparation for an important forthcoming anniversary.  It might have been fifty years, it might have been five hundred years but it really didn’t matter to us because the celebrations were planned for a week or two after we will have left and returned home.

At the end of the street was a paved square and a statue of Giuseppe Mazzini, another hero of Italian Unification and in this square old men sat and chatted and played cards outside a sort of Italian equivalent of a British Legion museum with some interesting artefacts from the two World wars of the twentieth century.

Fish Market in Molfetta…

As we drew closer to the harbour where fishing boats were tied up against the harbour wall and fishermen were carrying out recently returned to port chores there was a lot of elbow pushing activity at a wood and glass fronted building close by.  This turned out to be the fish market and ragged lines of people were beginning to form in anticipation of bagging a bargain after the afternoon opening of the doors.

Fishermen continued to deliver boxes of fresh fish and inside we could hear the auctioneers fixing the prices and eventually the doors were opened and people were pushing and shoving their way inside.  Inside there were slabs and slabs of fresh fish and on closer examination of the produce it soon becomes clear why we have to put up with stock shortages whilst the Italians, and most of the rest of Europe as well, have such an abundance of choice – we are just far too fussy and our preference for fish is restricted to two or three species that we have fished into a crisis of extinction whilst the Europeans will eat a much greater variety of sea food.

We like to buy our fish in little blue polystyrene trays, trimmed and gutted and without heads or tails and ready for the grill or the oven but here the slabs were brimming with fish so fresh some of it was still alive and flapping about and winking at us as we inspected it.

Restaurant street Art Mellieha Malta

Excuse me a recollection here but this illustrates my point perfectly; once on holiday with my mother and presented with a menu that included a cod dish she actually asked the waiter if it was served with its head still attached!   These things can be two metres long for goodness sake!

There were crabs still frothing at the mouth and octopus with tentacles still writhing and with an eye open daring anyone to buy it and take it home and tackle preparation for cooking. The colours were eye-catching too, sparkling silver, gleaming green, radiant reds, blushing blues and trays and trays of vivid orange scampi and other intriguing and colourful crustaceans.

We couldn’t buy any of course but it was fun to watch the transactions and the negotiations but as the slabs quickly emptied and were reduced to empty cracked porcelain we left the market and made our way around the harbour walls where weary fishermen were taking a well earned rest before they set out to sea again later.  I liked Molfetta, it was a working fishing port and the harbour wasn’t clogged up with expensive yachts and leisure boats.

After the harbour we explored the streets of the old town and into the back streets were local people were just wasting away the end of the afternoon, housewives were preparing evening meal and children were playing football in the alleys and lanes.  We were really looking for somewhere to eat and a reason to stay longer but we could find anywhere that we really liked, it was that time of the day when restaurants are closed and seemingly camouflaged but you just know that they will spring back into life a little later, so we strolled back to the railway station and took the local train back to Bari where we arrived at about seven o’clock.

Bari, Italy…

We thought that we might walk back to the old town to the same trattoria but on the way we spotted a traditional sort of  pizzeria that we tend to like and dawdling around the front door and the menu too long we were spotted by the owner and invited to come inside and eat (actually, I think we were physically dragged in).  We were the only customers and he made a real fuss of us as he patiently took our orders and then provided a starter of salad and muscles and then a pasta main course and a tiramisu to finish.  It was a good meal and relatively inexpensive so we left an appropriate tip but I think we both instinctively knew that we wouldn’t be taking up his insistent invitation to return the following day.

Leaving the restaurant we made our way back to the central station and then in a moment of panic realised that I hadn’t bought with us the details of the hotel and neither of us could remember what it was called. Bugger!  Luckily the Tourist Information Office was still open but they struggled to help and I could see us spending a night on a park bench until we suddenly recognised a street name and the concerned staff were able to identify the hotel for us.  We found a taxi and I was so relieved I cannot even remember how much it cost to take us back home.

Molfetta Puglia Italy

Italy and Puglia, The Inevitability of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.”                 A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)

It was the last full day in Puglia and our plan was to stay at the hotel garden and swimming pool for the morning and then go sightseeing in the afternoon.  It was Monday and I guessed that the garage shop that was closed yesterday would be open today so I ventured out again onto the dangerous road and carefully negotiated the short walk and bought some wine and beer to see us through the last day and evening.

There were even fewer guests at the hotel today than there had been the day before so finding a perfect spot to sit and read presented no problem at all and we let the morning slip away in virtual solitude.

An hour or two of sitting on a sun bed doing nothing is quite long enough I find so shortly after midday we left the outdoor terrace, changed into our walking about clothes and called for a taxi.  It was cheaper than yesterday at only €13 but I still resented paying out such a huge sum as the driver dropped us off at the central train station.

Our intention now was to take the train in a westerly direction and visit the fishing port of Molfetta a few kilometres along the coast.  So far on these travels the Italian trains had been completely reliable and punctual but this time there was a fifteen minute delay and although the station address system provided some information in English I couldn’t understand a word of it as it crackled horribly through the overhead speakers.

Finally the big electric engine hummed into the station and after a few moments we were upstairs in a double-decker carriage and on our way through the untidy industrial zones of the city and out towards the coast and we arrived in Molfetta after about a thirty minute ride.

We didn’t have a map of course but we were fairly certain of the right direction towards the harbour and we confidently set off in our chosen direction and within a few moments came upon a leafy square and the inevitable statue of Italy’s great hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi who we have come across previously in (no exaggeration here) every town and city that we have visited in Italy.

After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 the state worked hard at making sure Garibaldi would be perpetually remembered and the number of streets, piazzas and statues named after him makes him probably the most commemorated secular figure in history.  Such was the romance of his story of revolutionary heroism and daring-do that Garibaldi was at one point possibly the most famous man in Europe.

In London in 1864 for example people flocked to see him as he got off the train. The crowds were so immense it took him six hours to travel three miles through the streets. The whole country shut down for three days while he met the great and the good.  Literary figures including the poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott lauded him as the “Italian lion” and the noblest Roman of them all”.

Statues of his likeness stand in many Italian squares and in other countries around the world.  A bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi is prominently placed outside the entrance to the old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, a gift from members of the Italian Society of Washington. Many theatres in Sicily take their name from him and are ubiquitously named Garibaldi Theatre.

Five ships of the Italian Navy have been named after him, among which a World War II cruiser and the former flagship, the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

When I went on holiday to Sorrento in 1976 I took a bus ride along the Amalfi Coast the coach stopped at one dangerously precipitous hairpin bend so that the tour guide could point out to us an outcrop of rock in the sea which is said to show the profile of the great man.

Garibaldi Rock Amalfi Coast

The English football team Nottingham Forest designed their home red kit after the uniform worn by Garibaldi and his men and have worn a variation of this design since being founded in 1865 and there is a Nottingham Forest team magazine called the ‘Garibaldi Gazette‘.  Rather interesting that they choose Garibaldi and not Robin Hood in my opinion.  A college in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is also named in his honour.

The Garibaldi biscuit was named after him, as was a style of beard, a pop group in Mexico and in Italy there is a cocktail drink called the Garibaldi (based almost inevitably on the Italian drink Campari). The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy has been awarded annually since 2007 in the European Six Nations rugby union competition to the winner of the match between France and Italy.

Garibaldi Six Nations Rugby Trophy

Other places and things named after Garibaldi include the Garibaldi National Park including Mount Garibaldi, Lake Garibaldi and a Volcanic belt  in British Columbia in Canada; the city of Garibaldi in Oregon, USA; a town and a gold mine near the city of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia and a town in Brazil (his wife, Anita, was Brazilian).

There are Hotels in Naples, Palermo, Venice and Milan, but only a bed and breakfast in Rome. In England there are streets and squares named after him in London, Scarborough, Grimsby, Bradford and St Albans and a hotel in Northampton.  There is a Pizzeria in Memphis, Tennessee and in the Pacific Ocean near California there is a scarlet fish and a marine reef called Garibaldi. There is a museum on Staten Island, New York; stations on the Paris metro and in Mexico City; a café in Madrid, an area in Berlin, restaurants in Vienna and Kuala Lumpur, a Street in Moscow, a Museum in Amsterdam and a block of high-rise Social Housing flats in my home town of Grimsby.

If I have missed anything important out of my list then please let me know.

I have got rather a lot of photographs of Garibaldi statues from my Italian city visits but I took some more here and then we continued our stroll to the old town and harbour.

“We were for centuries
downtrodden, derided,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let one flag, one hope
gather us all.
The hour has struck
for us to unite.”

Italy National Anthem

  Garibaldi Fish  Garibaldi Metro Station   

Giuseppe Garibaldi Italian Navy   

Garibaldi Oregon

Italy and Puglia, the City of Bari

Basilica of St Nicholas Bari Puglia Italy

After breakfast in the immaculate conservatory of the hotel dining room we prepared ourselves for a day stranded on the equivalent of Robinson Crusoe’s desert island in a hotel miles out of the city and with nothing of any interest remotely close by.  Our plan then was to spend the morning in the garden and around the pool and then in the afternoon take a taxi into Bari.

When I say nothing of interest I forgot about the petrol station and shop that we had spotted about five hundred metres away back down the main road so I thought that it would be a good idea to walk there and buy some alcohol supplies for the room.  The desk clerk was reluctant to let me out of the gates onto the busy main road because he said that it was dangerous but I promised to be careful and negotiated a pass and then began the adventure.  In the last few days I had already risked life and limb on the Italian roads but this time I was doing it as a pedestrian on a main highway full of blood-lust motorists and no pavements and to make matters worse when I got there it was closed on account of this being Sunday and so I had to walk all the way back empty handed.

So we spent our morning in the sunshine around the pool dividing our time up between reading, walking around the gardens, exploring other parts of the hotel and, as the temperature began to rise occasionally swimming to cool down and to optimistically work off some of the extra calories that we had added to our waistlines in the past twelve days.  I for one was feeling completely peed up on account of all the pasta, pizza, peroni and pistachio ice cream that I had over indulged in over the past few days.

In the mid afternoon we took a taxi into the city which cost a massive €17 this time and the price of the fare was going up faster than the Italian rate of inflation and I really begrudged handing over all of this cash.  

My friend Dai Woosnam challenged me on this point when he commented: “… there is a contradiction between someone who avoids taxis like the plague, but is happy to spend £100+ a night on the Lecce hotel !!   It is such contradictions that make people interesting!”  Well, here is my rationale:  A fifteen minute, €17 taxi ride costs  €1.13 a minute, a  €120 hotel room for twenty-four hours costs .08 cents per minute so it is a simple question of economics and value for money.  If I hired the taxi for twenty-four hours at these rates it would cost me  €1,627.20!

We walked towards the old town looking for a shop or a mini-market without any success, which shouldn’t have been that surprising given that this was right bang in the middle of the siesta period and was also Sunday afternoon and when we arrived in the old town it was desolate and quiet.

Bari Puglia Door Detail

Actually we rather liked it that way because it meant that we had the tiny streets to ourselves as we followed a tourist route through the middle of the centro storico.  We started at the Cathedral or the Basilica of St Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas was a fourth century Greek Saint who had a reputation for giving secret gifts, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for our Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which is itself a  corruption of the transliteration of ‘Saint Nikolaos’.  In 1087, part of the relics (about half of his bones) were stolen from a site in Turkey and relocated in Bari and I am now able to tell my grandchildren that although they think Santa Claus lives at the North Pole I know where he really is.  Bari may not be Florence, Rome,Venice or even Lecce but it does have Father Christmas.

Once again I was forced to concede that the Cathedral wasn’t especially thrilling but there was an interesting service taking place in the crypt where people of Bari seemed to be presenting elderly and sick to be blessed by a priest who was strategically positioned in front of the casket of bones, laying on hands and praying for a miracle or two.  We felt rather like intruders at this point so we quickly left and returned to the sunshine and walked to the seafront and the castle of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.  It was closed.

From there we walked the walls and investigated the nooks and crannies of old Bari and then disaster struck.  Kim declared herself to be hungry.  Kim’s requirement for food goes through a number of well defined stages, first she describes herself as peckish, then hungry, then starving and finally progressing to ravenous.  It doesn’t take very long at all to progress through these various stages and with all the eating places now closed I knew that I was in for a couple of tricky hours until they opened again.

I tried to distract her by going for a long walk along the seafront but she wasn’t enjoying that because the weather had turned from good to bad and it was getting rather chilly, then a stop in a bar and then a walk around the port area which I promised her would be interesting but sadly she didn’t agree.

Eventually the hands of the clock ticked around towards seven o’clock and the pizzeria where we had dined on the first night opened for business and we sat down to a starter of Puglian meat and cheeses, a large bowl of salad and a perfect thin crust pizza.

When we had finished it was still quite early so we decided to go back to the hotel and if necessary use the mini-bar as a last resort but on the way back to the railway station Kim spotted an Asian mini-market and we were able to buy beer and wine to take back to the room – what a relief!

Time for a taxi again and this time we managed to get a driver who looked like and drove like Bruce Willis in an action movie car chase, the type where the cars scatter dustbins and demolish vegetable stalls, and he rattled through the streets at break neck speed, occasionally using his mobile phone and cursing any two second hold up or inconvenient red light. 

It was quite an exciting roller-coaster ride through the streets of Bari which was only finally spoilt by the demand for a €15 fare.  I needed more Amaretto! 

St Nicholas, Bari, Puglia, Italy

Italy and Puglia, Alberobello to Ostuni to Bari

Puglia T Towel Map

On Saturday we woke early, packed our bags, went for a final breakfast at the Trulli Holidays reception room, checked out and promised them a maximum ten points assessment on the booking.com website and then transferred the luggage to the car and left.  We had enjoyed Alberobello and when I returned home I was true to my word and gave the accommodation top marks.

It was only a short drive to Ostuni and when we arrived there I was really, really glad to be able to return the car.  The man at the hire car desk silently checked the documents and then looked up and with just a momentary look of threat and anticipation in his eyes asked one simple question “what damage to car?” as though this was surely inevitable.  I told him that I was absolutely certain that there was none and he looked at me as though I was the World’s biggest liar and came round from behind the desk and went off to check.  He inspected both inside and out and then had to concede that there was no damage and then, with a look that had turned from anticipation to disappointment, almost reluctantly it seemed to me, signed off the hire release papers.

Because we had enjoyed our first night there and one morning had simply not been long enough we were now moving back to Bari and this meant going back to the trains for transportation and I was relieved and delighted in equal measures that someone else would now be doing the driving and so while we waited for the Trenitalia train to arrive we sat in the sun at the station bar and had a couple of beers.

I had found a good bargain at a Spa hotel a little way out of the city so when we arrived at Bari station, being unsure of the location, we broke a golden holiday rule and hailed a taxi.

Bari Puglia Italy

I am not happy about breaking this rule especially when the fare came to €10, bust the daily budget and nearly broke my heart but I was mighty glad that we hadn’t attempted to walk it!  The hotel, a once grand mansion on the edge of the city, was quite a lot further out of town than I had imagined it would be and as the taxi continued to drive further and further away from the centre it became quite clear that there was absolutely no chance of walking back into Bari for evening meal but never mind we thought that we might eat at the hotel instead.

It was a lovely hotel with a very good room but when I enquired about the restaurant I was informed that it had closed down for the season a few days previously.  Oh dear it was beginning to look like more taxi fares again later.  Once again, never mind, this afternoon we would use the Spa facilities while we considered our options.  Not a chance because these were closed as well with conflicting stories from the staff about break downs and/or refurbishment depending upon who was making the excuses.

I was annoyed by this and tried to cancel the third night but the hotel staff were reluctant to allow this and I couldn’t find a suitable alternative anyway within our skinflint price budget and so we had to resign ourselves to three nights marooned miles from anywhere on the edge of the city.

Never mind, we would now use the outside pool facilities and have a lunch time snack but once again not a chance of that either because the pool side snack bar was closed and everything was packed and locked away and for certain would be staying that way for at least nine months.  I complained again but it made no difference and all I got was more apologies.

So, we had to take a taxi back into the city and going back was even more expensive at €15.  Actually it could have been even worse because when the metre hit €15 I told the driver to stop and we got out, paid and walked the rest of the way to the old town.

Before dining we walked around the city walls for a while and then choose a pizzeria and trying to compensate for the cost of the taxi fare choose a very cheap meal and a pizza between us which seemed to surprise the staff.  I really hate taxis, they are such robbers and all that they achieve is to suck money from the local economy because if I hadn’t spent so much on fares then it is certain that I would have spent more in the restaurant but later we did find enough loose change in the bottoms of our pockets to splash out on an ice cream in a gelataria in the main square.

The main square was just as busy as our first night in Bari with a tsunami of people coming in waves into the old town and then just walking backwards and forwards like an Atlantic tide. This was the  passeggiata where local people descend on the town at dusk and just walk and sometimes stop to talk. Some people had bought fold up garden chairs and were just sitting and chatting, others were playing cards, some were hanging around the bars but mostly they were just walking up and down and around and around and they were still coming in as we battled against the flow and then returned to the hotel rather earlier than normal.

This cost another whopping €12 so when I totted it all up that was €37 in one day on taxi fares – more than I would normally spend in a full year, more than the cost of the fuel for four days car hire!  I needed a lie down and a couple of large amarettos!

Bari Night time Puglia Italy