Back to Italia: Bari & Lecce

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Feb 20, 2014


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Flag of Italy  , Puglia,
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bari is the port town I arrived in from my ferry journey from Greece. It is a typical port town and one that has advanced from its history as a crime-ridden city. There is not much to see here, but it is the 'resting' place of Saint Nicholas’ relics/bones – the Saint who inspired the concept of Father Christmas in the 3rd Century. I visited this and walked around the streets. The St Nicholas cathedral is odd because there was an Orthodox service happening in a Catholic Church. His bones were taken from Turkey 1000 yrs ago and brought to Bari, so that is why the Orthodox congregation comes here too. Apparently Turkey has requested that Italy return his bones. Bizarre.

I then trained down to Lecce, which the Lonely Planet guide had equated it as "the Florence of the south". I was fascinated by this because I really enjoyed Florence when I visited there in 2009. Unfortunately, Lecce (1.5 hrs from Bari) is not of the same calibre as Florence. Yes, it has the architecture and amazing sculptured facades, but not the landscape and refinement of Florence. I guess that if I’d not seen Florence, I would’ve been more amazed. I had worried about not having enough time to see these 2 places, but I easily managed to cover off the main sites within a day. I’d even toyed with the idea of hiring a car, but glad I didn’t because traffic is mad – I don’t even have confidence to cross the road as a pedestrian, let alone drive on it!

Strange going from Greece to Italy and having to adjust to the different language and food. At least I can understand a bit of Italian – I even helped an Italian older man operate the train ticket machine without a word of English. Also, when I was in Lecce, everything was closed between midday and 5pm. I thought that only Spain had the siesta concept, but it is obviously here too. Real pain when you’re a tourist and u have to wait around until 5pm until the places open.
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