Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Death of an Octopus or Lunch is Served

Here's a common sight along our coasts. Step one, you catch an octopus, or two. Here Signor Sergio proudly displays his catch of two good-sized specimens.

Step two, you soften it up by throwing it repeatedly against the rocks. Your serious octopus fisherman will have already killed it by biting it between the eyes.

Step three, you agitate it in a plastic bag with some sea water until it releases a lot of white foam and its tentacles curl up. Traditionally, this phase of the process was done in a wicker basket.

Step four, lunch is served. At this point, Signor Sergio kindly offered me a bite (which I declined!). Raw octopus is considered a real taste treat here, and you gotta admit it, you don't get your seafood any fresher than this! Animal lovers and vegetarians, please don't hate me...I'm not promoting this process, just documenting!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Fish Market

In another corner of the port, you can see the Fish Market. It was built in 1929 and is where fish is sold to retailers, fish hawkers, fishmongers, restaurants and wholesalers. The fish is auctioned off very loudly...with a lot of yelling! The fish sold here comes primarily from the fishing boats of Molfetta, Brindisi, Vasto and Termoli. Those arched windows make the building look like a little bit of Venice right here in Molfetta!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Duomo

Continuing our tour around the Molfetta port, here's a shot of the Duomo, the church with two towers on the left, and the old customs building, on the right. The Duomo, dedicated to Saint Conrad (San Corrado in Italian), is the largest church with three domes built in the Apulian Romanesque style and was constructed between the 12th and 13th centuries AD. One of its two towers served as a watchtower, while the other was the usual belltower.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Port

Molfetta's port hosts not only 116 fishing boats but is also an active center of maritime commerce. Until the 1960s it was one of the most important ports in the region of Puglia and one of the most important sources of employment for Molfettan men. They would go to sea for a week, month, or even a year at a time.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


These are some of the "scogli" along the local coastline. I looked the word up, since I've always been at a loss to translate it. I found the following definitions: 1) cliff - which I don't think applies in this case, there's no sort of precipice to fall over here; 2) rock - which I don't like either as it seems just a wee bit too general!; and 3) reef - is this a reef? Maybe it is. Are there any geologists out there who can help me on this one?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Traveling Salesman

And, so, there you are, at the beach, just as you should be since it's summer and all. Generally the priority at the beach is to DO as little as possible. People here aren't much into active water sports. Some men will go diving for mollusks or octopuses (octupi?), groups of older women will sometimes venture into the water and sort of bounce up and down to cool off...but mostly the main activity is working on your tan. And that requires hours of lying still under the hot sun, flipping over every now and then to expose the next patch of skin. But, just when all that relaxing is about to spill over into the danger zone of boredom...a traveling salesman arrives to liven things up. These guys walk up and down the coasts of Italy hawking their wares. In Molfetta, we have this friendly guy they call Tzu tzu...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Where's the beach?

In Molfetta, the number one summertime activity is going to the beach. Anyone who CAN spends at least part of every day there...housewives, mothers, children, students, people on their lunch break or day off. For many it's what they do all day every day during the "bella stagione" - the "beautiful season." It took me a long time to get used to the Molfetta beach concept...look, no sand! So, where's the beach? But, I learned that, in fact, one doesn't go to the "beach" here, but to the "sea"...and that makes all the difference. Along the Adriatic coast there are sand beaches, beaches of small stones, or, as in Molfetta, beaches of "scogli" which I struggle to translate, but let's say "flat rocks." So, you either join a lido (private beach club) where they provide you with chairs and umbrellas, or you bring your own chair, or you do your best to find a flatish place to spread your towel out on...trying to avoid sharp rocks poking you in sensitive soft spots!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The historic center

This is the backside of the historic center. The famous view is around on the other side where you can see the port and the duomo. Molfetta's origins can be traced back to the 4th century BC when a small fishing village was located at this site. The town was dominated first by Byzantines, then Lombards then Normans and was repeatedly attacked by Saracens. The old town used to be an island with a passageway over to a single entry gate. It is laid out in the form of a fish spine, with one central street down the middle and other smaller streets that branch off perpendicularly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dawn in Molfetta

Welcome to Molfetta...a small southern Italian city on the Adriatic coast. It's not Venice, it's not Rome, it's not glamorous nor more so than anywhere else on the face of the earth. In this blog, I'll share what I notice around town...