Friday, May 13, 2016

Italy: Adriatic Waterfront

My time in Gravina felt much much too quick. As with all great things, they must come to an end. After such a fabulous time eating, site-seeing, enjoying family, did I say eating?, my mom and I left with our cousin Annie to stay at her uni flat in Bari to check out the city. Bari doesn't offer a lot for the wayward tourist. I'd have liked to explore and discover more, but really Bari seemed to be a very relaxed, beautiful, and hard-working town. It's full of college students. The architecture is classic, heavy with 1930's decadence. It's the end of art deco and the beginning of more simplicity in architecture. To find that in Italy was unexpected. There aren't any big sites to see or awe-inspiring museums. Of course the expected cathedral was thrown in here and there. Overall, it was modern, lovely shopping, beautiful malecón, and another opportunity to get to know my cousin and see her day-to-day life.

I'd love to go back to Bari with a bag of money. Great prices on really incredible pieces of designer clothing, jewelry, hand-made leather shoes, unique handbags, pretty sure I walked around drooling. The unemployed will have a sad afternoon wandering the labyrinth of Bari Vecchia.

My last coffee with Anna Maria and Vito

One highlight was the Castello Normanno-Svevo. We didn't pay to enter but the outside alone was incredible. Built around 1132 by Norman King Roger II, it's had a long history of demolition, rebuilding, life as a prison, and now an exhibition. I think the most interesting story surrounds Francis of Assisi. He and Saint Catherine of Siena (which I'll get to when I post about Siena) are the patron saints of Italy.
According to tradition, the emperor had a courtesan sent to Francis's room and watched through a peephole to see what would happen. When Francis sent the woman away, Frederick was impressed with his principles; the two spent the rest of the night in conversation. 
I suppose it's appropriate to learn about Saint Francis given our current Pope's papal christening. If there's anything I learned in a month in Italy, it's you better, if not love, be at least interested in the Pope, or pOpa! as they say.

Annie's flatmates were so adorable. Unfortunately for me, it made me feel a bit old spending time with them. We still had a lovely time eating pasta together while they smoked their cigarettes. Plus they gave us all kinds of tips on Rome which we started to get really pumped for our last couple of days in the south. We even spent one evening watching the English version of Anastasia, which apparently my cousin loves (only ever seeing the Italian version).

Listening to her sing the songs and recite the dialogue in Italian as the English played in the background was really fun. You don't think about these things but it's incredible how we live in a global world these days. I shared our Netflix account with her :) I'm not sure if I mentioned it previously but probably my favorite family story is how much my relatives love the scene from Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds when the soldiers pretend to be Italian. "margheriti!" haha they also find it hilarious that all Americans say grazie all wrong. Pretty sure even after 50+ attempts, my mom and I don't get it quite right.

She makes these beautiful designs in her collection of journals. It's lovely. I'm very glad to now know my cousin and I hope she finds all the joy in the world. Up next: Rome