April 26, 2015 – Bari

The other night Yuri, from Vincanto in Pompei, asked us where we were going next. We said, Bari. He looked at us quizzically and said, Bari? There’s not too much to do in Bari but Sarah wanted to come here because of St. Nicholas of Bari and so here we are.

Our first plan is to walk over to the art museum and give it a look. On the way there we find that there is a road race going on and a fabulous fish market. The art museum will have to wait.

The fish market is definitely a man’s affair. There are men beating octopi on the pavement to tenderize it. There are men washing octopi in big tubs of soapy water, men shelling sea urchins and hairy mussels, men shopping, smoking, drinking beer and playing cards. Sarah and I are the only women here. It’s all quite fascinating.

Washing an octopus in a soapy tub
Washing an octopus in a soapy tub

Opening sea urchins
Opening sea urchins

Tasty morsels for sale
Tasty morsels for sale

Road race finish line
Road race finish line

Finally we make it to the art museum. It is an easily manageable size. Since we usually concentrate on the early works through the 1600’s we have good parameters for not getting exhausted. Sarah and I get out our list of Saints and their attributes in art and go to work identifying who’s who in the art museum. We snap a few picture before we get the ominous warning, “NO FOTO!”
St. Nicholas holding his three bags of gold that he gave to three young women so they could have dowries instead of becoming prostitutes
St. Nicholas holding his three bags of gold that he gave to three young women so they could have dowries instead of becoming prostitutes

Back out in the sunshine for a walk in the old city to find San Sabino, the cathedral here. There are extensive excavations under the current cathedral with layers of old churches going back to Paleo-Christian times. An early layer has a mosaic floor.
Mosaic floor from Paleo-Christian church
Mosaic floor from Paleo-Christian church

Detail of an octopus
Detail of an octopus

Done with the cathedral we hurry to make our lunch reservation. We have learned over the years that on Sunday especially Italians eat their big meal with their whole families at lunchtime. Restaurants are not open for dinner. So we know to fill up now and skip dinner later. The restaurant, Gianpolo, is serving many families. There are tables of eight, twelve and more. Kids are running around all dressed up for the big Sunday event. It appears to be multi-generational with nonna and nonno, mom and dad, aunts and uncles and cousins. Our table of three is the smallest. We do a good job, though, at the lunch eating. Like the other tables we get extras for free and presents to take home.

Seriously, all we ordered was mixed antipasti, pasta, and sorbet.

In the meantime the Italian families are still going strong. An hour and a half later when we leave our hotel after a small siesta we see them just coming out of the restaurant. There’s no turning tables here!

We take a walk over to see the Church of St. Nicholas. It’s very old having been built and the 11th and 12th century. It looks like they have some excellent old paintings but they are roped off and we are disappointed that we can’t a closer look. As it turns out, St. Nicholas was actually the bishop of Myra in Turkey. In the 11th century some Italians from Bari stole his remains and built this church for them. I read that Turkey is trying to get them back. Saintly remains are good for tourism.

Madonna and Child with Saints - the saint to Mary's left is St. Nicholas
Madonna and Child with Saints – the saint to Mary’s left is St. Nicholas

Church of St. Nicholas
Church of St. Nicholas

Interior of church
Interior of church

As we walk through the early evening streets people are sitting in cafes and children are playing soccer in the piazzas. We decide to join them. We have a beverage and some snacks to tide us over until the morning.
Sarah at an outdoor cafe
Sarah at an outdoor cafe

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