We arrived in Bari, on Italy’s southern coast, early in the morning and decided to just walk around the city and absorb as much as possible on foot. It was Sunday, so the town seemed deserted with the exception of the churches. We walked around the old cobblestone alleys snapping pictures of people drying their clothes on lines stretched between the buildings, and waving at friendly people in cafes.
I think of Bari, my first image is of an Italian kingpin gangster in a pinstriped suit complete with a red carnation and a classy black hat. Wherever we turned that Sunday we saw Italian men in this outfit eyeing us skeptically. Every church we went into had a row in the back of the church were several men in these outfits sat whispering to each other while several rows of overdressed women sat before them praying or gazing around the church’s beautiful interior. I couldn’t help but imagine they were all in an international mafia, but perhaps they all just have the same tailor and an affinity for Godfather like clothing.
The churches in Bari are unbelievably beautiful. With ceilings that stretch into the sky, held up by marble pillars and cherubs, beautiful chandeliers, bright paintings and thousands of candles, they are much more awe inspiring than anything I have ever seen.
Bari Castle, on the coast, was a delightful but small structure. The interior was partially under construction so we did not pay to go inside, but enjoyed the exterior. A man with an accordion walked up and down the street playing Italian songs and singing along as people walked in and out of the castle. The structure has withstood a great deal, and although the moat is empty except for a few industrious cats and some litter, looks like it was built yesterday.
We did not have long to spend in Bari, but were delighted with the town, the churches, and the mysteriously suited gentlemen hovering in the churches.
You were lucky to see those suited gentlemen! In most of my travels to Italy, I haven’t seen many people in suits. Instead, it seems like most of the men go for some nice trousers and a nice shirt (without a jacket).