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Zurers in Italy 2019

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Wendy....when you are in the Caserta area, you miight check out this world-famous pizzeria in Caiazzo.

Pepe in Grani

We didn't get a chance on visit.


100+ Posts
Will check that report this evening, Jim.

As for a GTG, we are in Rome from April 30 leaving on May 27th. Maybe we can catch-up between your arrival and our departure dates.


10+ Posts
May 25: Trani: STATUS REPORT

We are at the end of our stay in Trani. Tomorrow we move to Le Marche to stay for a week at the Locanda della Vallenuova near Urbino....the prize that I won in the recent Slow Europe web site contest. (No skill, all luck...thanks Pauine Kenny and Giulia da Urbino.) I am confident that I will then be able to get the pictures into the reports and catch up.

We are now both reasonably healthy and have been enjoying the warm, sunny, more typical May weather here in northern Puglia. We hope that the nice weather continues next week to the north of here.

Trani is a great place to stay....beautiful setting on the harbor and the Adriatic, a very nice centro storico, a stunning cathedral overlooking the sea and a pleasant vibe--a great place to walk around or hang out watching the boats and the people. In addition, the Jewish history of Trani has now been recognized and lends another facet to its appeal.

While you are waiting for the next installment of Zurers in Italy 2019, I thought it would be interesting to include a report I wrote on our second trip to Trani in 2008. Our reactions then to the town, public park, countryside etc. mirror our experiences today. I have copied it below and also included the link if the old report doesn't make it intact.

Tomorrow we have a five hour drive north....

Jim and Diana

Monday, October 20, 2008 - Day 7: Trani

The weather is overcast this morning…lots of clouds over the water that we see from our window. The breakfast room in the hotel is exceptionally bright and cheery and the breakfast is very good also. Our first stop is the cathedral which is right outside the hotel door. The Trani cathedral has the most striking location…..set on a wide piazza just on the water’s edge. The cathedral is taller than most because it is built on top of two older churches. Entering from the side, we first go down to the low-ceilinged crypt which contains the remains of Trani’s patron saint–San Nicola Pellegrino–and some old frescoes on the ceiling.

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Upstairs, the main space is quite restrained….no wall decorations but many handsome columns, graceful rose windows, some lively floor mosaics and the original carved bronze doors now displayed inside.

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Outside in the piazza, the view of the front of the cathedral is very impressive….especially with the Adriatic Sea as background.

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Let me digress and talk about Trani. Trani has a very unique layout….the port is almost completely enclosed and there are restaurant and shops on one side of the harbor. The cathedral is on the end of one side of the harbor, along with a number of government buildings; the same side is also is home to the fishing fleet. On the other side of the harbor is a new hotel and one of the nicest public parks in all of Italy….beautifully kept, attractively planted with pathways, benches, a playground and three sides that are directly on the water. The “centro storico” is crammed in between the cathedral, the waterfront and the modern town with narrow streets and attractive white buildings. The very appealing modern town starts at the end of the harbor and stretches for blocks inland. And to the southeast, there is a long stretch where the road out of town hugs the waterfront and is lined with hotels and apartments.

Here is a Google map showing Trani’s harbor and “centro storico”.

View: https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m8!1m3!1d4708.323438001611!2d16.422093!3d41.279806!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x1338046c70780ea3%3A0x3e4422a665b12fd6!2s76125+Trani%2C+Province+of+Barletta-Andria-Trani%2C+Italy!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1558807611469!5m2!1sen!2suk

Trani also has a historic Jewish connection. It was a center of Jewish learning and up to the 12 century, there were about 200 families and four synagogues. When we visited here seven years ago, two of the churches in the “centro” were identified as having formerly been synagogues. I had read that two of the churches had been deconsecrated and that there were plans to restore them as historic synagogues and Jewish centers…even though no Jews are left in Trani. I had also read about a restaurant that served Mediterranean-style food with an emphasis on Jewish recipes. I wanted to return to Trani to see how these plans were coming along as well as because we had liked Trani so much.

In any case, the plans have not progressed too far although there is construction going on at the Scolanova and there is a Jewish star on the top of building. And the restaurant is no longer serving “Jewish” food on a regular basis…only when there is a Jewish event in town.

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Even so, Trani is a very appealing destination…:)

We spend some time in the public park, walking around and sitting looking at the water…on this Thursday morning, it is quite busy with mothers and children, old men sitting on benches, joggers, tourists and students. It is still as beautiful and pleasant as we had remembered….a very good respite from the “hard work” of sightseeing.

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We have a quick lunch at one of the bars on the harbor and then get in the car to explore the countryside above Trani. The expedition is fraught with touristic mishaps however. Our first stop is at Cannae, the sight of a battle where Hannibal crushed the Roman legions during one of the Punic Wars. However, when we arrive the site and the museum are both closed….another “in restauro” experience. We make a short detour to the town of Canosa di Puglia but the historic sites there don’t seem particularly striking to us and the town is not very attractive either.

The most interesting thing about our expedition is seeing the fields stretching out as far as the eye can see filled with either olive groves or vineyards or both. Once in a while, there is a small peach orchard….but it is not hard to believe that Puglia produces most of Italy’s olive oil and alot of wine. The cultivation goes on for miles as we climb onto the plateau called La Murgia. Once on the plateau, the topography changes dramatically…this appears to be wheat country and there is not a olive tree or grape vine to be seen. One other interesting part of the expedition is our drive through Minervino Murgia…this hill town seems to appear abruptly out of the plateau and looks like a sheer face of houses just rising in front of us.

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We drive to the top of the town and head back down to Trani on a different road…but one that is just as heavily cultivated as the one we drove up on.

One last stop before we head back to Trani…..Barletta, another port town on the Adriatic about 10 miles northwest of Trani. We take a short stroll through the “centro storico” and pop in to the duomo. But even at 5 pm, many of the shops are still not open so the town is very quiet. We do drive past one of the town’s tourist attractions, the Colossus of Barletta–a 20 foot high statue of a Roman general (no one is quite sure who it is) that is located right in the middle of the sidewalk of a busy street.

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Dinner is at da Miana, the restaurant that was written up as serving “Jewish food”. At 8:15 pm, we are the first customers (in fact, only one other table is occupied by the time we leave at 10 pm). The host is very charming and, since we are the only customers, spends a lot of time with us. We have the da Miano special antipasto…three hot dishes–a red mullet in a sauce under a piece of pastry, fried shrimp in a crust of almonds (a bit too heavy on the almonds) and terrine with anchovies. Very inventive dishes and very good……No pasta tonight; instead a delicately prepared “fritto misto” for me and an excellent tagliata–steak cooked rare garnished with parmigiano-reggiano for Diana.

We have a pleasant stroll back to the hotel through the quiet streets of the old town. Tomorrow we explore Bari, the largest city in Puglia and a town with a “reputation”.

Link to this trip report:
It is unfortunate that the museum at Cannae was closed. We went there in 2015 and it was well done and quite informative. The view of the battlefield from the city ruins on top of the hill behind the museum was very good, although there could have been more explanatory signs showing the detail of how the battle progressed. It is still hard to image the annhilating slaughter that he inflicted on the Romans there.


10+ Posts

Today is the last day of our very challenging trip...we fly out tomorrow morning and we are ready to come home. Due to the mostly unpleasant weather during the first three weeks, our health issues and the internet challenges in Trani and Le Marche, it has been impossible to keep up with the reports. I will make no promises but I hope to be able to send out recaps of our time since the last report and include some pictures from the missing periods.

As a token of my intent, here is a picture of the dome of Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome--seen from our hotel room window

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and a shot of the Colosseum at sunset taken from the roof garden of our friends Maureen and Franco.

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Jim and Diana
Lovely view. Would Maureen be Maureen Fant? Haven't met her in person, but she is amazingly knowledgeable.

Jim Zurer

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Yes...Maureen is indeed Maureen Fant. We actually met her in the mid-1990s through the Italian Forum on Compuserve--an early internet chat group. She is indeed knowledgeable and a good friend.

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