Italy - Bari to Lecce to Matera to ???

I traveled from Patras, Greece to Bari, Italy on a Hellenic Seaways ferry Ariadne that was pretty civilized.

The crew was gracious and the ride was smooth sailing. I woke early with the coast of Italy to my left and we slowly approached Bari as we had arrived early and they had to waste an hour or so. So the ship slowly pivoted to the right and gently backed in to the berth at about 1 mph. Very impressive. Then the line handling crew on the dock came out, 3 guys and a German Shepard. I had never seen a German Shepard line handler so I kept an eye on him. When a large ship comes into port they secure it with these huge 8" or larger hawsers that have a loop in the end to go over the bollards on shore. But if they toss these heavy hawsers to the line handlers on shore they could do some serious injuries to the shore crew. So the ship crew attach a messenger line with a weighted “monkeys fist” on one end of it to the hawser and the ship crew tosses the monkeys fist to the shore crew, who then pull in the monkeys fist and the messenger line to pull the huge hawser to shore and thence to secure the loop in the end of the hawser to the bollard.
But the only reason I point this out is that this shore crew had a German Shepard to trap the messenger line to keep it from falling back in the water of the port. So the German Shepard runs over and grabs the monkeys fist in his mouth so the shore crew doesn’t have to hustle over and do it themselves. Kind of cool. Pics to follow.

Arghh… I have run into yet another photo glitch. This is getting irritating. Let me see if I can fix it.


I think that worked. I guarantee that i will be less verbose now, i am back to using my phone. I liked Bari, the street of the pasta making ladies is pretty cool and the food was good too. I started with a Bombone sandwich at Mastro Ciccio where they fed me great food and oohed and ahhed at my photo of a grizzly. They asked where i was from, oddly enough they knew i was just traveling through. But they liked my Montana photos which is Double plus good as George would put it.

Later I visited la Tana del Polpo for fried calamari and octopus with orecchiette made one street over.
Nicely done.

Bari was a pretty photogenic city, lets see what i have…

Remember the song Stuck in the Middle With You? Here the lyrics are " McDonalds clowns to the left of me and BK Jokers to the right. "

I kind of look at this as Felix Rampant, Squared.

Bari harbor.

This is the Giardino Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. Nice walking area.

Bari is a nice port city and my B&B (Murex) was rather nice, but it was not a great city to visit. That will come later…


Positively foreboding :astonished:


I love Barese food. There’s a Barese veal sausage in a coil that I especially like.

There’s some joking among various cities. I have a friend from Naples who jokes with the Barese Canadians, that everyone in Bari is a crook. :rofl:

Lots of property theft. I hope you weren’t pickpocketed or mugged. It’s happening everywhere these days, even boring Toronto.

That said, I’ve been lucky in Italy. Only one scammer fake taxi in Rome years ago. I also have had taxi scammers in Nice, Madrid twice, in Athens and in Toronto. They’re everywhere.


Nah, it is all good!
Knock on wood…


I know next to nothing about Italy, but having someone from NAPLES throwing shade? :wink:
Interesting about the sausage, i will have to try them next time.
I think i am going to Calabria tomorrow, but the only buses are at 0640 and 1250, and the connecting train leaves Policaro at 1400. I may end up going north to get south.
The train i WANTED to take to Lecce! It looked a lot faster than the one I actually took.

View from the Bari to Lecce train.


Did you get a chance to explore the old town? Orecchiette ladies?


What was in that Bombone sandwich? Looked incredible. And such an eye you have - Felix Rampant squared! Think I might have missed that. And a good dog story as well. All worth waiting for! Can’t wait to hear what happens next.


Here is a Barese sausage, should you seek it out elsewhere before you return to Bari. It’s available in Toronto and other cities with a diverse Italian community.

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Digga, don’t get me paranoid. LOL!
Phoenikia, I will look around for the Barese sausage in Cosenza, but I am only going to be there a short time. I like sausage that are mixed with other spices and cheese so it sounds interestinbg. I am trying to get to Tropea and settle in for a couple days, maybe then.
Ziggy, I stayed on the pasta makers street so I nodded to them as I walked back and forth but only one of them acknowledged me and our chats were pretty brief. The la Tana del Polpo is on the same, kind of, street as the pasta makers and I joked with my waiter that I could have brought some orecchiette with me for my dish and he said he got it there that morning. That may or may not have been true, but my money is that it was, so I got at least one meal from the ladies on my street. I stayed at Murex B&B with Antonio and Alice and their rooftop breakfast deck just re-opened, it gets a bit brisk up there in January, I imagine. I stopped by Soul Kitchen here in Matera for lunch today and the owner would not let me buy a half kilo of the Costata di Podalica. I thought about buying a kilo of it but I am traveling by myself and I just could not pull the trigger. I had the beef tagliata and it was good, but probably not as good as the Podalica. I also had the stuffed ravioli and they were really good too.

Gretchen, it is a mixture of fried pork and beef meatball, puglian cheese and egg yolk thrown in, maybe to hold the meatballs together? But it was a good sandwich and I wanted to go back for the polpo/octopus but ran out of time.


My train from Bari to Lecce arrived just after 1300 and the owner of the AirBNB was meeting me at the door. I got off the train and was like, meh, Lecce is ok but not all that. Then I turned a corner into the old town and went, OK, maybe it is alright after all. My AirBNB was a new building, just 125 years old and my apartment was on the “2nd floor”, up just 66 steps. Each apartment is two levels so the “2nd level” is actually 45 feet off the ground. Not that my pack felt heavy by the time I got to the top, or anything. But the apartment was nice, the host was cool and he gave me a bottle of Primitivo Red that was excellent.
And Lecce is everything people say about it and more. It is just a beautiful town with a youthful feel and a historic ambiance. I took a one person “group tour” of the town and my guide was kind of taken aback by my attention to bizarre details. I wanted to know why the Starbucks symbol was on the wall of a church, turns out it is actually a symbol of Italy with a sea to the left and right, and not a mermaid/merman holding onto their scaley tail as I always supposed.

Not sure what the two photos below are, ignore them for now.

And the churches were unreal. The attention to detail, I think I can tell an Aragonese musketeer from a Moorish Janissary now! LOL!
And the degree to which these buildings have been preserved these past 400+ years is great. Plus the near complete lack of ugly modern buildings is almost better!

I got to Lecce late so my first day I ran into the 3pm curfew for lunch. Missed it by 15 minutes. But the bartender at Bar Moro had pity on me and brought me a plate of charcuterie. Good, not great but the friendly service made it a very pleasant meal.

Then I found a deli (Prendici Gusto) that had made dishes and I was in heaven. I am not a gourmet sort of diner, I am a mom and pop fan and this place fit the bill. I had 3 courses with 2 glasses of wine for 18€ one day then 2 courses with wine and took 2 courses home for 23€ the next day.

I may not have mentioned one of the main factors that has been shaping this trip. I retired a little over a year ago after working as a Realtor in Arlington Virginia for 28 years and spending the last two years in Deale, MD, a small fishing/yachting haven on the Chesapeak Bay.
I gave away most of my stuff and put the stuff I absolutely needed (Weber grill, bike, car, books, spices) to keep in storage in Montana because I want to go home to Montana after living on the East Coast for 40 years. But there is no way in Hades I am going to be in Montana from Christmas til Valentines Day and maybe not until Easter. I do not mind the cold as much as I hate the short days. So I have been searching for places for this snow bird to fly off to every December and Lecce is probably in the top 3 favorite possible destinations in the world for a December to March get away.
I really like this place. Lecce is just a very inviting city.

This is my Air BNB but my apartment was on the reverse side, top level.

This is not my Air BNB but I liked the look of the door.


I am enjoying your trip reports so much - thanks for posting!


Likewise enjoying muchly. I’ve wanted to go to this area, and I am happy to know you are getting around without too much trouble by public transport. Also, that you have found such a beautiful, welcoming spot as Lecce. Grazie.

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Wow. If you see Mimmo (Soul Kitchen) again, send my regards. If he says “Ziggy who”, tell him the weirdo that gave you a hug last May. It was a good, proper hug, so I’m sure he remembers.

Lecce is like Florence without the crowds


“Lecce is like Florence without the crowds”

I know nothing about Florence but that statement somehow makes me respect Lecce all the more.

Me too on loving your reports! Also thanks for the backstory, really interesting. Lecce had not been on my radar but obviously you (and your photos) have changed that.


Just trying to keep you on your toes. :crazy_face:

I completely mis-interpreted you when wrote that “Bari…(my ellipsis) was not a great city to visit. That will come later…(your ellipsis)”

I thought there was a story forthcoming to explain why Bari was not a great city to visit. It’s your ellipsis that threw me off, thinking there was some comical backstory. Not trying to make you feel paranoid, waiting for the other shoe to drop when there aren’t any shoes to drop! :laughing:

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That’s how I read what was written, too.

Travel days fall into three camps, i find.

Smooth sailing with scenic vistas.
Bumpy rides with limited irritations and odd developments.
Nightmare journeys from hell where you ride in an unsprung, un-aircondioned bus in the heat of a sunny Indonesian day, seated on a 50 kilo bag of rice that leaves uncounted rice dimples in your arse, with an incontinent goat on the roof spritzing you from time to time with a golden mist and you end up sleeping outdoors in your hammock, woken by a coven of diabolical wasps crawling all over your face.

For better or worse, this travel day appears to falling into the second camp. It could be much worse!

I spent the better part of two hours looking at travel options and ended up selecting a B&B close to the central Cosenza train station so that i could board the early train to Tropea tomorrow. Plus i had to take a 50 km taxi trip to avoid the crack of dawn bus but the taxi is worth it. . Then i got an email telling me my room key pick up point is in a toy store near the OTHER train station, where the owner of the B&B will be happy to walk me back to the B&B by the train station i actually have a ticket to. It is only 2.4 km each way but grumble, grumble and grumble.
Have i mentioned that travel between Matera and Calabria is slightly problematic? LOL!
I could have taken the bus from Matera to the train station which departs at 0650 or the one at 1250. I am not a morning person and the second bus gets me to the train station 30 minutes after the last train departs. So it was taxi time.
On the positive side, no bags of rice, goats or wasps are on the horizon so it could be much worse.
And i did get to see some amazing, only slightly repainted, 1800 year old pottery yesterday.
I got so excited by the fresh paint that the docent thought there was something wrong. She had a good laugh when i got my Google Translate working.


Truer words were never written. :rofl:


Thanks for sharing…useful info and great pics!

I’m going to Puglia for a 3-week road trip end of May and current, on the ground experience is scarce so this, and Ziggy’s recent post, are invaluable.