Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forget the Travel Reports

After downloading some Bari tourism info, I was really hesitant about filling our time here. It turned out to not be difficult at all. Most reports state that the Italians keep Bari a secret unto themselves and it is apparent. The vast majority of other obvious tourists were either Italians or those who had a four hour city spree from one of the ocean liners docked in port. 

The city has a slew of magnificently well maintained parks filled with statues, fountains and a variety of flora. The buildings are so charmingly Italian with earthy tone walls. Due to the heat, people leave their home doors open with only corded fabric or sheer curtains covering them to let the breezes flow. There doesn't seem to be any concern about robberies. Almost all apartments above the ground level have balconies. Each balcony is decorated with freshly washed laundry providing a feast of colors to offset the rich blue of the sky and the beige of the umbrellas that some restaurants use to protect clients from sunstroke.

Our first tourist stop was the Castello Svevo, but it was closed. I will tell you more about it when we actually get it. In the meantime, we played hit and miss with the churches due to siesta time, but return trips were successful times. As you can see in the pictures, we did hit many of them. Ron views them as spiritual places of worship. I perceive them as prime examples that mass hypnosis is alive and well in the over 60 year old groups. Other than the wedding we came across today, it was an anomaly to see anyone non-geriatric or a tourist in any of the churches. Maybe when the churches get Facebook pages, someone will LIKE them again. 

As churches go, the most famous in Bari is the Romanesque Basilica di San Nicola, which dates back to the 11th century. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and here is where you will find him buried. In fact, this church was built just for the purpose of holding St. Nick's remains which are in the crypt below. St. Nick is like a gift that keeps on giving too. His body supposedly leaks an oil that they bottle and sell in the gift shop next door. They don't make claims as to what to do with the oil, but I certainly would not add balsamic vinegar to make dressing with it. I looked for the oil rig to see how the oil was excavated, but there was nothing visible. Apparently, they have not had a gusher for some time.  

There was a wedding in progress when we returned. I had to have a picture of the bride. Her dress looked like something a 10 year old would wear for her 1st Holy Communion or the star of Debbie Does Dallas would think is classy. Her attendants wore a lovely shade of green, but had on bilious blue orthopedic shoes. Honey, Milan is only a bridal magazine away. 

A similar looking is the Cattedrale di San Sabino, another Romanesque building dating back to the 12th century. Someone's crypt is in the basement here also, but no oil wells to bring it notoriety.

Not far away are two very pleasant and quiet squares littered with cafes, most that are not open during siesta time. Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Merchantile intersect. Fortunately for us on such a blazing hot day, we did find one cafe open to guzzle down some Italian beers. The real fame of this area is the lion statue at the base of a column called Colonna della Giustizia. This is where debtors were tied and flogged. Pictures are in the photo blog. Rumor has it that British stag party goers who make too much noise during the quiet hours are also laced up to this column for public humiliation. I put my order in for one of these columns to be delivered to Budapest.

Photos related to today's post are located here.
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