2015 – Bari & Family

Today we started with our BNB breakfast. the owners made the cakes and the mother made the jam. The fruit juice was delicious – it wasn’t exactly orange juice, there were other flavors, just don’t know what they are. The plums were delicious as were the grapes. And the bread, quite yummy.

Okay, so it’s not all about the food (kinda is) but I’ll move on. After breakfast we walked to the port of Bari to join a walking tour. As we crossed many streets I was using my U.S. head and crossing on the green. Dick would hold me back because these traffic lights are only a suggestion here. I said we had the right to cross, he said well you may be right, but then you may be dead. So I think that’s where they got the saying “dead right”.

I didn’t have time to fuss with my hair today so decided to wear a hat (I know I must have looked more like a tourist but oh well). With a slight wind which we encountered as we neared the sea, the hat kept flying off. I finally took it off and just went without it. I later discovered there was a way to tighten the headband in the hat. Dick never accused me of walking around with a tight head… band, if you get my drift.

Our tour with Giuseppe was fabulous. He had a few other people from a cruise ship that docked here in Bari and we spent 3 hours and about 5 miles walking around old town and new town. Our guide was friendly with everyone we met along the way – the old Italian ladies love him. They were so friendly and invited us into their kitchens where they were making orecchietta pasta (shaped like an ear). These ladies are masterful at making them. They only use semolina and water – make them by the hundreds and dry them on screen-like trays.

As we were walking around town you would see people’s laundry hanging outside their apartment. Giuseppe was telling stories about the laundry and said, well if you get new underwear, everyone on the street will know it, because you have to hang it out to dry sometime. Many laundry lines have plastic covers that project out over their clothes to keep the bird poop off the clothes. Guess those dive bombing birds that hit our windows sideways in Oregon and leave a mess must vacation in Italy.

Going to visit the family tonight. Talked to my cousin Franco on the phone and it will be a challenge to communicate. Did I mention I wrote down a few conversation scenarios and translated them before I left? Dick said I should talk slow, very, very slow, or otherwise I will run out of Italian conversation in a minute and a half. Heaven help us.

Well, You could have made a Monte Python movie out of our adventure with the family. As I mentioned, they did not speak English and Dick and I don’t speak much Italian. So as in any Monte Python movie, you have people wandering around wondering who is saying what and making stuff up.  

What entertained us most was figuring out whose car to take what grandmother, what cousin, etc. It was a long discussion and we just moved with the crowd. So poor Dick did not realize what was going to happen. How do you prepare a non-Italian for this experience?  

When we arrived at cousin Columba’s house (7:00ish) she offered us cake and limoncello. I know Dick was thinking – damn I missed dinner. So we graciously took what was offered. Then the men started returning home from work and we talked about their boys and their majors in school, soccer, stuff like that.  We had kind of run out of conversation that we could all understand (used up all my Italian within the hour) so they put us in a car and drove us around the town – although Monte Python might have used horses. It was dark by now, but we could get a gist of the town square, park, etc. We stopped into the house where my grandfather was born. Brought tears to my eyes to experience it again.  

Back to Columba’s house to decide about dinner, where we would go and who would ride in which car. That discussion took forever as you might imagine if you have Italian heritage. Nothing is decided quickly. There are two very old grandmother’s who don’t walk well. We were amazed at how they maneuvered marble stairs in and out of the house (without railing) that were wet from the rain, then walk a spurious path to get to the cars.  

Once at the restaurant there was another long discussion who would sit where, next to whom, etc. The young cousins (children of my cousins Columba and Angela) sat close to us because they spoke the most English. Now you have to know it is about 10:00 pm and we are just sitting down to order dinner.  

First we had about 8-10 appetizers that were just kept coming out to the table. Olives, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms, something baked in cheese, asparagus gnocchi, a plate of fish (octopus, shrimp, and other unknown fish that all tasted good – we even tried the octopus!) and more dishes that I didn’t know what it was.

So now we are full, and here comes the pizza! They ordered us a pizza each the size of a large pizza in the U.S. Needless to say, we brought most of ours home. The meal ended with what they call “glass” which is small gelato bites covered in chocolate.   The evening ended with kisses and hugs, tears, and a lot of good-byes.

Off to Manduria tomorrow!

Breakfast at BNB

 Neighborhood grocery / fruit store

 Typical street in downtown Bari

Local lady making her orecchietta for the day in her kitchen – grandson looking on.

 Local fisherman mending his net.

Giuseppe (our walking guide) pointing out a historical spot.

 Every day is laundry day!

Seaside housing – their view is the Mediterranean


Port of Bari

Pictures of my mother and father’s wedding – from a relative in Bari.

The three aunties (daughters of my grandfather’s sister) are in the blue blouse in the front and the two older ladies in black sweaters sitting at the table. The older man in the white shirt sitting by Rosa (in the blue blouse) is my uncle Vito. Franco in the blue shirt in front is standing behind his mother. He’s single ladies. My cousins Columba and Angela are in the back of the picture by us and the two young men are their children. The other two men are their husbands, both named Michael.


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