Via Francigena

Day 102 – Bitonto to Bari: from the suburbs to the seashore!

The stage

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👣 23 km by foot – Wednesday 6 October 2021

With a short stage ahead of us, we had some extra sleep before departure and even managed to fit a brief visit of the original ‘basolato’ floor of the Via Appia Antica, preserved in the basement of the B&B “Palazzo Antica Via Appia” in Bitonto.

We then met up with our local friend Damiano, under the arch of the historical center, and started walking together. It was only a tiny group of 5 people today – which is understandable, considering that we had to walk aside the airport of Bari and in the city suburbs. Indeed, after a first relaxing section among olive trees, where Damiano showed us a site that is preparing to be a pilgrim’s accommodation facility, we could not avoid walking along unpleasant traffic roads with small sidewalks for about 1 km to enter the city of Bari.

We were immediately rewarded by the salty breeze filling our lungs and the sight of the sea in front of us: we became excited and rushed towards the water. Finally we’re on the Adriatic coast of the Mediterranean sea, and will continue walking along the coast for the rest of our journey! This is a milestone!

We thought the stage was nearly over, but once you reach the sea you still need to walk for 10 km to reach Bari Vecchia, the historical city of Bari. Luckily along the coast we catched up with some other walkers, including Angelofabio, EAVF’S collaborator for the southern section, some local walkers, and Marie & Karlheinz, an Austrian couple that is walking from Rome to Leuca.

All together we walked into Bari Vecchia and to the astonishing Basilica di San Nicola. Here we were warmly welcomed by city councilor Pietro Petruzzelli and the Comitato Amici dei Cammini Bari, who energized us with some super delicious focaccia barese. We were then interviewed by local TV and took some institutional pictures, before settling in our accommodation. In the evening we had an amazing fish-based dinner and our colleague Giusy, who is also a tourist guide in Bari, showed us around the city, with a tour of the town walls, with a view on the sea coast, and the remains of Santa Maria del Buonconsiglio, an ancient Roman church with unique columns and capitals that were then reused in the Middle Ages (right in the middle of the city, beside the sea!).

Tomorrow we stop here for a day off, and will reunite with the other group of walkers, who arrived today in Monte Sant’Angelo and will now catch up with us. I think I’ll go and have a swim in the meantime!

HIGHLIGHTS

Eating fresh fish and seafood by the sea

Taking a tour in Bari Vecchia

TODAY’S WALKERS

Nicole Franciolini, project assistant (EAVF)

Sara Louise Costa, project assistant (EAVF)

Andrea Alessandrini, RTR ambassador

A couple of local walkers

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