Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crane City

Wherever you go around Molfetta, if you look up you will see a crane. This is particularly true on the outskirts of town, all the way around the town. Construction of new buildings was basically completely blocked in Molfetta for about 30 years. This led to major price hikes on the existing homes. As a result, many young couples just getting started in life had to leave Molfetta, moving to neighbouring towns like Giovinazzo, Terlizzi and Bisceglie. This in turn drove up the housing costs in those towns.

Luckily a couple of years ago the problem was resolved and the building of new apartment complexes commenced. Hundreds are being put up all around the perimeter of town and even in those few empty spaces in town.

This means that many families are moving back to Molfetta. Others who have been making due in tiny inadequate apartments just for the cnvenience of staying in town are finally able to move into more reasonably sized ones. Not that they are large or cheap...the average new apartment is 100 sq. meters and costs around €300,000.

p.s. Just a curiosity...the word for crane in Italian is "gru" which means both the construction tool and the bird, the same as in English.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

We've been having an unusually rainy September here in Molfetta this year. September is usually sunny and warm and you can still spend many days relaxing at the beach. Some people even plan their "summer" vacation for September because prices go down and the beaches are less crowded. Anyone with plans like that this year will have had a nasty surprise!

The water is more than welcome, however, since we have been living in near-drought conditions for the past several years here in Puglia. And September is the perfect month for it, especially for the olive trees. They'll be harvested in November and rain now gives them a boost in growing fat and firm!

Every day for the past week has seen a few hours of sun interspersed with several rain showers. This full rainbow was spotted and photographed by my husband from the roof of our house.

Our camera couldn't capture the whole thing, so here it is in sections...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mystery Revealed No. 3

Yesterday's mystery drawers can be found here, at Farmacia Galeno, belonging to Doctor Gianni Caputo (and his father!) on Via Baccarini. This pharmacy is not old and beautiful like the pharmacy Fabrizio showed us in Turin last month, but modern and efficient...yet done in good taste and style! And it is full to the ceiling with drawers, drawers, drawers...all full of thousands of various and sundry medicines. If you stop by to chat with Doctor Gianni, I'm sure he can find something to cure what ails you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mystery Photo no. 3

It's time once again to play the Molfetta Daily Photo Mystery Photo game. Try to guess what this photo shows. I'm sorry, but "a bunch of drawers" is not an acceptable answer! Please be more specific. Who, what, where, when, why and how do you think these drawers are all about?

Answers tomorrow!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Behind the Red Door

What lies behind the red door? We may never know...and it's probably nothing all that interesting anyway. What does interest me is why someone would want to paint the door to this tiny little building in the middle of nowhere out in the countryside *so* red? A burst of creativity? A rebel streak? A good deal on red paint, perhaps?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scotty, Beam Me Up

Doesn't the light on this popcorn remind you of a Star Trek episode?
Or, maybe I just watched too much TV as a child!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

This massive display of security screens is located in the entryway to the multiplex cinema I mentioned a couple of days ago. I believe there are 56 different areas being monitored here! Nobody is ever sitting at the control panel. The only people who seem to look at these screens are moviegoers either before or after their film. I wonder if it's a matter of one screen being as good as another in the end...are we so video-dependent that we'll even watch these screens showing nothing much at all?

I guess these monitors are here *just in case*...to record anything anomalous that might happen...don't have these at the old theater in town!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Macelleria del Viale

Welcome to Paolo Tamborra's butcher shop located on Viale Pio XI! You can find not only meat of excellent quality and freshness, but a selection of other daily food necessities, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, bread, coffee...you get the idea. All served with courtesy and efficiency. And where else have you ever seen such a spectacular egg pyramid?!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Molfetta Outlet

Went to the movies last night at the multiplex cinema in the Molfetta Outlet Mall. This place is also known as the Molfetta Fashion District, probably because 90% of the shops are clothing shops. But, there's also this big, American style movie theater that shows 12 films at a time.

This raises various questions along the lines of...what about the little local cinema that is now seriously struggling to survive? And, what do you think about these mega-corporate ventures that stifle/kill local enterprise? Are the jobs at the mall worth it in the long run?

And what about the architectural issues? This mall has a very striking architectural style, generic "Mediterranean" perhaps is its intent...but it has no connection whatsoever with local constructions.

I go to both cinemas. The one in town is closer to home, less crowded and cheaper. There's no popcorn, but, at the prices they're charging for it at the mall...I can survive without!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mediterranean Arrhythmia, part 2

More images from the Aritmia Mediterranea mural painting contest held September 11 and 12.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mediterranean Arrhythmia

Molfetta was the site of the Aritimia Mediterranea Sounds of Peace Music and Mural Painting Festival on September 11 and 12. It was a two-day event featuring concerts and a "writing contest," which was actually a spray-painting mural contest. The photos I've taken are of the works of art on an abandoned wall along the narrow road leading into the city swimming pool...which is closed this year...but that's another story for another post...

Check out the winners in the mural painting competition at this link!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Prickly Pears

Doesn't look very inviting, does it? But, actually, it is a delicious fruit called the "fico d'India" in Italian, which translates literally as an "Indian fig." You want to be *very* careful when you harvest them since they are covered with tiny needle-sharp thorns that just love to work their way under your skin and drive you crazy! To pick them, you need a pair of very thick gloves or a special tool with a long handle and sort of metal tube at the end...or both!

For a description of how to gather and prepare prickly pears, take a look at this link. It's in Italian, but the photos are self-explanatory.

On a side note, my younger son was with me when I took this shot and he warned me, "Be careful, mommy, don't get too close, these plants *shoot* their thorns at you!" At which I scoffed, "I don't think so!" But, who's got a painful thorn stuck in her forefinger as she types? The mysteries of nature and children! ;-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Maestrale

The "maestrale" is a cold northwest wind. It arrives after a low pressure front and sweeps away bad weather and humidity, leaving clear blue skies. A Molfettan proverb says that the "maestrale" lasts one day, 3 days or a week. I'm hoping for a one-day wind this time!

It's unusual to see waves in the Adriatic Sea. They only happen when there's a strong wind blowing. The picture above is deceptive in perspective because on the other side of the road from the windswept Maritime Pines there is a sheer cliff that drops down to the sea. The waves you see here are actually far from the shore.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Molfettan Monuments: Eroi Caduti per la Patria

This monument is dedicated to Molfettan "Heroes Who Have Died for Their Homeland," in other words, in war. It was built in 1929 and was meant for those who died during WWI. Unfortunately, there have been so many other conflicts since then. Personally, I'm a pacifist, but I think it is important to remember and honor those who have lost their lives to protect the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Molfettan Monuments: The Calvario

The "Calvario" is a gothic temple located near the town center. It was built in 1856 of calcareous stone (we have a lot of that around here). It has three octagonal levels, each decorated with arches and pinnacles. It's 20 meters tall and has a nifty spire on top that, according to whoever put the entry in Wikipedia, renders it truly uniqe as compared to similar temples in neighboring towns!

These little provincial towns can be so competitive with each other! Just you wait till basketball season starts!

My son had a homework assignment that involved us going out to find 7 monuments dated with Roman numerals, which he then had to translate into regular old numbers. The amazing thing is that we were able to finish the assignment in a 30 minute time span walking around an area of 2 blocks! I'll be showing you some of these monuments over the next few days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Molfetta Station

This is the entrance to the Molfetta train station. You can go either north or south from here, up or down the coast. Most trains run the Bari-Foggia route, but some go as far south as Lecce and as far north as Milan. I catch the train here to go to work in Bari. The trains are usually pretty reliable and run more or less on time (a relatively flexible concept around here!). They are not clean, but they are affordable and safe, so I'm not complaining. For tales of some adventures I've had on the train click on this link.

(If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the reflection of the green shutters on the building across the street!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Finally, A Rainy Day

Looks like it's really the end of the summer now...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Would you call it Salmon?

A pretty apartment building in the piazza on Via Sant'Angelo. I love the color of the facade. Notice the typically Molfettan *green* shutters...you can't escape them in the town center!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Run Unnecessary Risks

Here's another billboard that's up around town these days. It has me rather perplexed, I must admit. It is not promoting the use of condoms at all, but is an advertisement for a website about Molfetta (see link on my sidebar) and a graphics/pr studio. It says "Don't run unnecessary risks. Put yourself in the hands of the communications professionals. Molfetta Live and Studio 360."

I can remember not too long ago that an image of a condom was pretty much taboo. Even for spreading information about important health issues, like the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

What do you think...is this clever advertising or...what?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Saint Conrad's Festival, part 4

Scenes from the carnival.

The Ferris Wheel: a classic!

Whee! What fun! My dinner's coming back up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saint Conrad's Festival, part 3

In case you were worried about all those enthusiastic followers of the Madonna drinking too much beer under the hot sun and diving into the water while hundreds of recklessly driven boats manoevered around them, each other and the Madonna herself...fear not! We had lots of "authorities" on hand to keep an eye on things. The photo above shows the Coast Guard going one way, while the Carabinieri go the other.

The craft above is a Red Cross boat, while the photo below shows a Red Cross Rescue jetski.

And in case you got into trouble on dry land, or needed to be hauled out of the water and whisked away to the hospital, the Red Cross Advanced Aid ambulance was also on hand. As far as I know, there were no accidents nor arrests. Nor have I ever heard of any trouble in past years.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Saint Conrad's Festival, part 2

There are many elements that put together make up the patron saint's festival in Molfetta. A large portion of the harbour area is taken over by stands selling just about everything you can imagine, from clothes to African drums to cheap toys guaranteed to last just till you get them home. There is a carnival with rides and games of skill and chance.

But the key event is the procession that carries the statue of the Madonna of the Martyrs from her home church along the harbour to the main jetty. There she is loaded onto three fishing boats that have been tied together and is carried around the harbour accompanied by anyone and everyone who has some sort of vessel that floats: motorboats, sailboats, jetskis, rowboats, dinghies, you name it. The main objective is to yell and blow your boat's horn as long and loud as you can.

On board the three boats carrying the statue are all the friends and family of the boat owners, plus priests, monks, a band and dozens of young men who pass the time by diving off the boat into the fetid waters of the harbour!

The Madonna is led around the port for several hours before the boats dock at the other end and she is lovingly unloaded and carried to the Cathedral where she rests until the following Sunday when yet another procession carries her back home to her own church.

Everyone gets decked out for the event...including the buildings!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Saint Conrad's Festival

Full day of fair activities! Details to follow tomorrow...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Cross and Caduceus

This wrought-iron grate covers a small window at the Grillo Pharmacy. The symbols used to represent a hospital or a pharmacy are the cross and the caduceus, two snakes entwined around a winged staff. This symbol dates back to the age of the Mesopotamians.

The esoteric meaning of the caduceus can be interpreted from the sum of its parts. The staff was a symbol of authority carried in the hands of messengers. The winged wand of Hermes (a Greek god) is in keeping with the alchemical or astrological importance of Mercury (his Roman version) - often meaning fluidity, transformation, information, and new beginnings. The snake is often depicted in non Judeo-Christian traditions as a source or deliverer of wisdom. The snakes are bound to each other in a double helix - a shape of stability, creation, and life (the very shape our DNA conforms to).

From this we can deduce that the caduceus represents the authority to quickly deliver vital or wise information so as to aid, assist, negotiate, and enlighten. It is no surprise then that the caduceus is used as a symbol by a variety of professions which have a connection with Hermes/Mercury, the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and thievery.

Contemporary users of this symbol include merchants, journalists, postal workers and...hospitals and pharmacies.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


My 8-year-old son spotted this odd cloud lurking over the shopping mall just outside of town. (yes, we do have modern stuff here in Molfetta, too! I just haven't shown you very much of it yet...too enthralled with the sea in the summer!) It was all by itself and really big and fat and just hanging there...as if were trying to decide if it wanted to enter the mall through the Coop supermarket or the Media World area...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Molfettans Around the World

Molfettans, like Italians from all over the nation, but particularly the South, have emigrated to the four corners of the earth in search of a better life and opportunities. This phenomenon began in the late 1880s, if I've got my history right, and continues today. Some city streets are named after these emigrants. Via Molfettesi del Venezuela is dedicated to those Molfettans living in Venezuela. There is also Via Molfettesi d'Argentina, Via Molfettesi d'America, and so on.

Great numbers of these emigrants return to Molfetta each year for the patron saint's festival held on and around September 8. The patron saint of the city is Saint Conrad (who is said to have died nearby on his way home from the crusades), but the Madonna of the Martyrs also plays an important role during the festival.

I'll post more about the festival over the weekend.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What is It?

This doesn't count as a Mystery Photo, really, because anyone who can understand Italian or who carefully examines the logos along the bottom of the billboard can figure it out... But, here goes nothing...it says: "it's exciting, it takes your breath away and it's about to begin...GUESS WHAT IT IS?"

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Villa Pina

This is a view through the gates of an old villa just off one of Molfetta's main streets. I have never seen anyone go in or out of this villa, but the neighbors assure me that there is an elderly couple who come regularly to tend to the plants and the garden. There is a great tradition in Molfetta of living in town, but having a small plot of land in the countryside (some with and some without a small house) where you can cultivate some olive and fruit trees and escape the heat of the city in the summertime. Many of these villas used to be well outside town limits, but have since found themselves in the middle of urban development.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sheet Messages

In recent years, a new channel of communication has taken over the streets of Molfetta in the form of "sheet messages." They are just what the name I have invented for them implies...messages written on bedsheets and hung out in a public space. Often you find them hanging down from overpasses or bridges. The most common message offers best wishes for couples about to marry, but they have also been used recently to mourn the untimely deaths of local young people. This same kind of public message used to be written on photocopied flyers plastered to walls and telephone poles, but the sheet is "in" now.

The sheet above says, "The public is advised that on September 4, '08 a magnificent dream is about to come true. Tonio and Marta, bride and groom!!"

This one is a bit more complicated as it is written in rhyme, which I don't think I can replicate in translation...but the gist is: "An ice-cream truck stopped in front of a house... And he won her heart with a popsicle... 10 years have passed... And they have gotten into lots of scrapes... And finally the long desired day has arrived... Flora and Francesco, bride and groom! Congratulations!" They put this one up a bit early since the wedding isn't for another 3 days!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to Town

There are several of these city maps located around town to help you find your way. Handy info and phone numbers are listed down the side and there's a red dot and arrow to indicate that You Are Here. The photo is in focus, but the glass covering the map has become a bit murky with age. Don't we all?