My Personal View Of A Far Away Place | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

 

With the release of my new book, I feel obliged to talk a bit about my hometown and offer the audience an unfiltered view of the city, just as I have always known it. Bari is a large sunny city in the South of Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea, six hours South of Venice and four hours East of Rome. It is the major city of the region of Puglia and it has been named the “Milano” of the South, without the fog and industrial smokestacks of Milano. Bari is lined with palm trees, embraced by warm weather, scorching, by some people’s standards, fresh fish, colorful people and a life of “dolce far niente” (sweet do nothing life).
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

People of Bari are warm, affectionate and sociable because the warm Mediterranean weather affects them. They know how to enjoy life, too much I say.
Their mornings start at the last minute when the notion of being late to work is a known fact. Too much traffic is always the excuse. Once they arrive and get briefly situated in their work post, it is already time for coffee. Around 10:00 am, coffee shops are brimming with people indulging in espresso, they like it hot, short and to the point, standing up at the bar counter, shooting the breeze with other colleagues while passionately tasting a fragrant cornetto (croissant). The talk during the coffee time is either the latest news on the local soccer team, politics, or the juicy romantic conquest from the night before and not necessarily in that order!

 

Via Sparano – Bari – Photo: ©Valentina Cirasola

On the way to school, students bite with enjoyment into savory focaccia made with Puglia olives and tomatoes (this is after they have already had a breakfast at home: caffe’ latte and biscotti). At 1:00 pm, on the way back home from school, they will go through the same ritual… they will have another slice of that savory focaccia that makes the dead come alive again.

Work in Bari takes a different twist. All businesses, stores and schools shut down at 1:00 pm every day to allow people to go home and have lunch with their family.
If you are a smoker, consider yourself lucky, as only tobacconist shops are open during this time to help feed your vices.

Between 1:00 and 4:00 pm people do whatever they like for relaxation, but having lunch with one or two glasses of wine is the most important part of that relaxation. In fact, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and no one will ever think drinking wine for lunch is a sin, you will never hear anyone say: “No wine for me, I must return to work” and they do return to work, alive and kicking more than they are in the morning.

At 4:00 pm, activities resume until 7:00 or 8:00 at night, the streets get clogged with cars and people crawl. Contrary to those who must return to work in the afternoon, there is a category of people who have full-time jobs whose hours are only from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Yes, people who work for the government are considered full-time workers with only six hours of work!
In the afternoon, students, independently wealthy, housewives, and teenagers stroll along Via Sparano, Corso Cavour, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza del Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile and Lungomare arm-in-arm, like lovers, because Italians are touchy-touchy and kissy-kissy people and those are just a few of the most elegant places in the city, where to see and be seen.

The night stroll in Bari Vecchia is not completed without a cone of yellow butcher paper containing piping hot fried “sgagliozze” meaning triangles of salted fried polenta, fried in caldrons set in the street, outside the home of the woman who makes them. You must burn the palate with hot sgagliozze, otherwise, they are not good, say local people.

 

(Photo sgagliozze) – http://www.sabrinabarbante.com/my-favourite-italian-veg-street-food/

View of the Adriatic Sea from the Fortino – Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

Bari is composed of Bari Nuova (new city) and Bari Vecchia (old city). The charming old city is mysterious and magical, especially at night. This part of the city has the most character. Centuries ago, this was the heart of the city called “Muratti” quarters where a treasure trove of millenary arts, history and culture developed.

Bari Vecchia looks over the balcony of the Adriatic Sea like a lady waiting for her sailor. The aroma of algae and salt water mixed with the delicious smell of food coming from homes and restaurants lined up along the bank will fill your nose and permeate the air. On the spur of the moment, you might find yourself going to a seafood restaurant as if some magic spell has been played on you. No, you don’t need a reservation as restaurateurs will welcome you at any hour of the night as if they were welcoming you to their own homes. The people of Bari are night crawlers, so when I say any hour of the night, I do mean any hour. It is very common to find restaurants working at their full capacity at 3:00 am.

Photo Author: Nikater – Wikimedia

In Bari Vecchia “Castello Svevo”, a Norman-Swabian castle stands tall. Emperor Frederick II built it in the Byzantine-Norman-Swabian style. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is another important historic landmark, proud of its presence in the city. There, celebrations of Christian Mass for Italian people and Orthodox Mass for Russian people downstairs in the Crypt happen together.

Barese people love to exhibit themselves while going to the theatre, dressed up to their teeth and competing with each other, it’s like going to the Oscar, they will show up with the best designer outfits and wonder who wears it better. The theatre Petruzzelli is the fourth largest in Italy for its dimension and stature, where many famous opera singers and international actors have marked the stage. Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Greco have performed there, along with the unforgettable Italian comedians, dancers, opera singers, poets and cabaret singers like Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Giorgio Gaber.

Bari was founded by the Greeks and later became a Roman municipality. In 840 AD, Bari was attacked and dominated by Saracens pirates, an attack which lasted many years. The city was saved by a Venetian fleet and remained under the Byzantine’s power for some time. In the 12th and 13th century, Bari changed the ruling power and soon, the city passed under the possession of the Normans and Swabians (today’s Bavarians). The Swabians rebuilt the city, Emperor Frederick II revitalized all activities, the city port and remodeled the castle. In his court, arts and culture flourished. “Stupor Mundi” he was surnamed, meaning amazement of the world, attributed to his high taste for refinement. The history of Bari is so much more interesting than one short paragraph, this is a city a city with a rich heritage which continues to thrive and renews itself as civilization evolves.

Due to the favorable geographic position with easy passage to the East Road, the Middle Eastern countries, and the vicinity to the Mediterranean, Bari has been the main center for trade and commerce with Levantine countries. Modern Bari today is also an active economic center, with the second largest population in the South of Italy. It has become the principal center for technological research with the Polo Universitario and Technopolis, in addition to the annual Fiera del Levante, the international trade show where many countries exhibit their specialty and products.

The Road To Top Of The World, my fourth book, full of my photography and a lot of interesting stories is done and well cooked, it is available on Amazon  https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism.  Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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