Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sunday, a tour of Bitonto and Bari

This is a continuing saga of our research trip to Southern Italy in search of ancestral data.  This post covers our day in Bitonto and Bari and describes our first glimpse of the Adriatic Sea.  We also get a surprise visitor.  This is the 8th installment.

Despite a despirate longing to "sleep in", our Donkey alarm clock had us opening our eyes at 5:00 AM once again.  We lay there, listening to the animal symphony that was "kicked off" by the donkey.  Sleeping in?  Not today!  Perhaps, tomorrow!

We got ourselves up and ready for the day.  We went for another wonderful breakfast and decided to take a walk about the property.  The farm, Masseria Vero, is very large and there were a large variety of animals and  crops.  Strangely, we had the sense of being in total isolation in the country while still knowing that just a mile away, there was a small but densely packed and very busy village.

We toured this village yesterday and, in stark contrast to the open spaces about the farm, we noticed that there did not seem to be any yards attached to any of the homes.  A satelite image of the village confirms this observation.  It shows "sardine packed" homes along all the narrow streets.

 Here, on the farm, there are palm trees and fig trees and rows and rows of olive trees.

When we returned to the farm house, we found visitors.  Cousin Angela Lattanzio and her husband had come out to the farm to meet us.  What a pleasant surprise.  Vito said he was going to call them, and he did.

Two ladies with the DNA of Michele Lattanzi and Sabina Mastrandrea
 Cousin Angela was excited to meet us and she brought family pictures with her.  We sat and talked for some time, sharing stories as best we could, and often, with the help of English speaking Marie.  Gay and Angela have a common bisnonno, Michele Lattanzi.

While this was going on, in walks Domenico Tricarico, ready to take us to Bitonto and Bari.  This certainly answered the question, "what were we going to do today?".   
We got into Domenico's car and we drove, first to Bitonto, and then to Bari.  Like his father, Domenico is well versed in the history of these cities, and, as a bonus, speaks a little English.

We walked through the streets, saw amazing antiquities, and walked some more, and saw some more, etc.  Look at a few of the pictures.

This church was built around 1180

This 14th Century Palatial Piazza was
designed to collect rain water at this fountain
 We had a very nice lunch in Bitonto and then we drove on to Bari.  Here are more pictures.
Gay's great Grandfather, Michele Lattanzi,
was a Bari Goldsmith, and lived in this castle.

An Ancient Roman road, uncovered during a construction project
Our first glimpse of the Adriatic Sea
We walked and walked and walked some more.  My feet have still not recovered.  This was indeed a full day and I have posted other pictures on the Web "HERE".

We returned to the farm and Domenico stayed for dinner with us.

Another "Masseria Vero" feast
We talked into the late hours and discussed our plans for the next day.  We were going to stop at the Trani "division" of the Bari Archivio di Stato.  If you recall, we had not driven our FIAT for the last three days.  We have been taken everywhere by the kindness of the people about us; a kindness that we deeply appreciated and which made this journey more than special to us.

Tomorrow was going to be a challenge.  First, we would need to find our way off the farm; no easy task in itself.  Second, we would need to find a road north to the village of Trani.  I was going to rely on our Italian GPS, but Domenico drew us a map and explained what route we should take. 

We were more than ready for a good night's sleep.  Buonnonotte!

Next Post - One more angel, a trip to the Archivio di Stato in Trani for more research, and the ride to Rocco San Giovanni, near our final stop, Vasto, Chieti, Abruzzo.  There is more information in the book available from Amazon by clicking the link below.

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