Sunday, January 7, 2007

Day 2 - Napoli-Bari

It’s an early start for us today. We race off to the funiculare to go back up to town in search of the Castel St. Elmo. When we arrive at Via Cimarosa we pass the Frigitoria Vomero where they have an enormous stove with pans of oil for deep frying. We quickly order two of the “graffe” - light, sugared doughnuts. If we had known how delicious the fresh doughnuts would be, we would have ordered more. The castle is not as close to the funiculare as we had hoped and we wind our way up and around only to find that the entrance is on the opposite side so up and around we go again. The castle was built in 1329 and is a massive fortress. We take the elevator up two floors to the Piazza d’Armi. The panoramic view is amazing. We can see boats racing on the bay and all of the rooftops of Naples.

As we head back to the hotel we stop at an alimentari and pick up some fresh buffalo mozzarella for lunch.

Leaving Naples on a Saturday is less hectic. The road is well marked and the traffic is lighter. We are ready for a siesta but the road beckons us on. The countryside is beautiful along the autostrada and we have an easy drive.

We arrive in Bari just after 3:30 and the town is very quiet. The streets are empty and the shops are all closed. We drive along the water looking for recognizable landmarks. We can’t help but notice the Castello Svevo and park.

This castle is not quite as massive as Castello Elmo but it has the same distinctive Norman influence. Inside the castle is an exhibit of the art depicting the life of San Nicola (St. Nick) through the ages from the east and the west. We arrange for two English audio guides and begin. With pieces from Germany, Russia, Asia, locally from Bari and other cities in Italy. you get an exhaustive tour. Tapestries, paintings, coins, wooden triptychs all tell the story of the life of the beloved saint.

When we leave the town is still closed and we stop for a disappointing gelato before heading to Polignano a Mare, a seaside town perched above the Adriatic on a sheer rocky cliff. We are staying at a hotel which is built into the rock and are delighted with our room which has a little balcony built into the cliff wall so that we are sitting directly over the water. (Hotel Grotta Palazzese, Via Narciso 59, Polignano a Mare. 080.424.0677.) We drop off our bags and head out to join the crowds of people walking through the streets. The town is delightful and we stop at a little wine bar, to enjoy a bottle of Primitivo di Manduria. The evening is cool we are treated to another little balcony where we can stand over the water and enjoy our wine.

As we head back to our room we spot a tratorria and stop in for dinner. (The Porta Picc, Via Anemone 36.) The restaurant is empty but it is off season and we are hungry. We order the seafood risotto for two which is a good choice. Bill has the grilled gamberoni – a plate of five large shrimp and Suzy has the fritto misto – fried calamari, shrimp and squid. We split an order of grilled zucchini and eggplant and have just enough room for pineapple for dessert. Of course there is always room for coffee and grappa.

And so we end our second day.

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