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3:10pm on Friday, 14th September, 2012:



It's day eleven of the cruise, with just two days left before we fly back to the UK and are once again able to find toilet paper that you don't have to quadruple up to stop your fingers going through it.

Today, we visited the historic Italian port of Bari. Like Dover, it's not the kind of place many people would regard as a tourist destination in itself, but it does have some interesting sights in the old town. There are three main ones, which you can see from this view of the old town from our cabin, er, stateroom:

Above the left ship is the basilica; above the right ship is the cathedral; to the right is the Swabian castle. Sadly, you can't go up that campanile next to the cathedral. No, I don't know what the difference is between a cathedral and a basilica.

When I first visited Italy, back in 1984, I noticed that they had petrol stations build into the pavements in places. They still do:

If people didn't park their cars on the same streets, they would probably make more money.

Bari's old town is your typical warren of small streets with washing dangling from the windows:

It's more of a place to live than a tourist zone, though. With a bit of organisation they could do a lot more with it. This being southern Italy, though, such organisation is unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon.

Here's the outside of a Venetian-period church:

I think the church maybe ought to touch up that paintwork before one of the locals takes it into their head to do it...

Although the old town is a bit run down, it can nevertheless have some picturesque moments:

I was lucky: the next person who tried to take a photo of that shop, the owner tried to sell some peaches.

This archway is outside the cathedral:

It's the high arch; there's another one opposite that starts only one storey up that's the low arch. I don't know how they get these wacky names.

This statue is inside the cathedral:

I suppose I should have noted who it's supposed to be; it's usually Jesus's mother Mary in Catholic cathedrals, and it can't be the patron saint of the cathedral because that's a man, Saint Sabinus. Yeah, it's probably Mary.


Creepy big-head angel!

This isn't a great photo because I had to take it without a flash as the subject is in a glass case:

OK, so it's in the crypt and it's a dead virgin in an ornate dress. I don't know if it's the actual woman who's been stuffed (as in taxidermy) or if it's a model of her made out of wax or somesuch. It's a little unusual, whatever. I'll have to look her up on the ol' Internet when I get back home.


You dropped it! You dropped it!

On to tourist attraction number two, the basilica. It's dedicated to St Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. His remains are stored there. Here's a statue of him outside:

Unfortunately, it looks as if someone has taken a dump on his bible.


Someone took my horns.

Inside, the basilica is rather restrained in its decor, except for the extremely opulent ceiling:

One of the other tourists we've met on the ship rates it as superior to the Sistine Chapel, but personally I think it has too much gold going on for that, plus the pictures themselves aren't anywhere near as memorable.

Here's St Nicholas's resting place:

There were people down there repeating Latin verses and singing in harmony. They went on for so long that it could well have been a recording set to loop. It was quite impressive, anyway, even if the hordes of tourists ignored the silence signs and chatted away while taking flash photos. I may be an atheist, but I don't think it's right to go into a place built by religious people for religious people and then show them complete disrespect. Well, not while you're actually in there, anyway.

Here's a nicer statue of St Nicholas inside the cathedral:

The bottom of his stand looks like this:

Those are piles of banknotes. I wondered how he managed to buy all those presents he delivers on Christmas Eve.

This other statue is in the courtyard outside the cathedral:

That's more like it!

These street maps are in several prominent positions:

Why "in" and not "to"?

We came across a wedding outside the Swabian castle:

Several tour groups stopped to take photos. I think the bride was rather pleased to have such an audience, but the drivers of the cars that were backed up unable to get through the crowd probably weren't.

This is what the Swabian castle itself looks like:

It's quite interesting, but you couldn't get up onto the walls. Also, it was always called the Swabian castle, as if to distinguish it from some other, non-Swabian castle in the vicinity. Maybe we missed that one.

This is from the Gallery of Plaster Casts inside the Swabian castle:

Just because your eyes don't look in the same direction, doesn't mean you can't have your head sculpted.

Finally, here's a picture of modern Bari, outside the old city walls:

It's a lot more classy than the old town. The ice cream is good, too!

So that's Bari. We visit, so you don't have to.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).