Italy // Puglia //


The initial part of the coastal route south from Manfredonia is unremarkable, with flat lands given up to saline extraction. The first town of note down the coast is TRANI, a beautiful stone-built port and fishing village with an unusually cosmopolitan air. One of the most important medieval Italian ports, it was a prosperous trading centre with a large mercantile and Jewish community, and rivalled Bari as a commercial port. A wander through the streets around the harbour gives an impression of the medieval city, not least in the names that echo the town’s mercantile and Jewish origins – Via Sinagoga, Via Doge Vecchia (the port had strong – not always amicable – links with Venice) and Via Cambio (Street of the Moneychangers).

Centrepiece of the town is the cream-coloured, eleventh-century Duomo, right on the sea at the edge of the old town. Dedicated to San Nicola Pellegrino, it consists of no fewer than three churches, stacked on top of each other like an inverted wedding cake – the facade austere but lightened by a pretty rose window. The interior has been restored to its original Norman state, the stark nave displaying a timbered ceiling.

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