John: We have spent a difficult night at the Cefalicchio Country House just outside of Canosa di Puglia. As we have mentioned in yesterday’s post, the internet does not work. There are mosquitoes. The doors do not lock; in fact they barely close. The main door knob has fallen off and shattered into many shards of porcelain. The hot water in the bath runs out.
At breakfast, the staff put us (and themselves, we conclude) out of our misery and inform us that the internet situation will not be fixed any time soon and that we should seek other lodgings. The owners are away on holiday in Egypt, we learn. The staff have been trying mightily to help but this is a management issue in our book.
We make our escape, schlepping our stuff down the 28 steps and through gravel to the car. The staff have suggested we look around the center of Canosa and find an Internet Cafe. This proves more difficult than it sounds, as well as being a not-very-attractive town. So we bail and head for the coast, direction Barletta.
Mary: As the final coup de grace, I am hit with an exuberant sprinkler as I take a last picture of Cefalicchio Country House 🙁
John: We get to Barletta okay, but are not impressed. Lacking the internet, we remember our guidebook. We set our sights on what looks like it will be a nice hotel in Bari, down the coast about 60 km. Our fingers are crossed.
We get to Bari and drive towards the hotel. At this point Jack, our new GPS, decides to have a bad satellite day. Maybe not his fault entirely, since the streets are narrow and the buildings tall and close to the street. But we finally succeed in getting to the Palace Hotel in Bari. (The Italians have an exquisite sense of where their fenders and bumpers are, where the pedestrians are, and where the motorbikes will suddenly appear. I try to go with the flow.)
Mary: John tends to be quite a conservative driver at home. In Italy he becomes Giovanni Pilati, seasoned Italian driver. It is quite unnerving.
John: The hotel proves to be quite nice. Internet (though our iPads cannot get signal in the room, only our PCs), air conditioning, a shower, and no mosquitoes. Whew.
After a small but random lunch of deep-fried eggplant-wrapped tagliatelle in a nice tomato-cream sauce, we head out to explore Bari.
First we go to the Swabian Castle a couple of blocks away by the waterfront. This was first a Norman fortress, built over Byzantine ruins in the 1100s, added on by their Swabian successors in the following decades. Then the French Angevins, and finally the Spanish in the 1500s.
We first encountered the Norman and Swabian influence in southern Italy last time in Sicily. These Vikings and Black Forest types certainly knew how to pick vacation destinations! And what a mix of decorating styles: Norman, Romanesque, Gothic and Moorish all blended together.
We’re happy that we were able to avoid a disaster today. Tomorrow, more exploring in Bari and the countryside.