Friday, October 31, 2008

Historic Center - Via Amente, 2

Further along Via Amente, the street widens a bit, not because it was designed that way, but because in the 1960s an entire building fell down from lack of upkeep. At that time, Molfetta Vecchia was determined to be an unsafe place to live and the majority of the inhabitants were moved out and settled elsewhere in public housing. That just increased the situation of neglect and many more buildings fell down, or imploded (see photo above) over the years.

An interest in gentrification began to grow in the 1990s. My husband and I lived in a renovated home on Via Sant'Orsola (see yesterday's map - go to the end of Via Piazza and turn right) for 11 years. We were the first family to renovate and move into that part of the old town. Now there are many renovated homes and even shops and coffee bars throughout Molfetta Vecchia. It's not touristy, but at least it's not as abandoned as it used to be.

Today's photo shows a row of homes in the open area halfway down Via Amente. Looking from left to right you see an empty building, an inhabited building, an imploded building and an inhabited one (you can tell it's inhabited by the satellite dish on the roof!).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Historic Center - Via Amente

Molfetta Vecchia (or Old Molfetta, as the original city center is called) was an island. Its layout was designed in the shape of a fish spine, with one central street down the middle, Via Piazza (see map below) and other streets shooting off perpendicularly to the left and the right. It was walled by virtue of the buildings all being attached to one another all the way around, and was surrounded by the sea on all sides. The only entry at that time was through the main arch (see yesterday's post) so that when invaders arrived (which they often did) the main door could be closed to keep them out. If they did get in, all of the side streets were closed off so that the pirates or Normans or whomever were blocked on Via Piazza and could be attacked more easily by the citizens. The Molfettans would throw rocks at them or pour down boiling water or oil.
Today's photo was taken at the corner of Via Piazza, looking down Via Amente, the first street to the right. It is a bit dark, but that's the way it always is there. The houses are built so close together that not much sun gets down to street level.
Today is my 100th! ;-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Historic Center

I haven't shown much of Molfetta's historical center yet, and it is definitely worth seeing. The old town was originally a round island. It has since been annexed to the "mainland" by landfill. The view above is from inside the main entry arch looking out. The area where the cars are parked was once water, from what I understand. In Medieval days there was a giant wooden door that was closed at sunset and opened each morning. A defensive measure used in most walled cities in that period to keep the bad guys out.

p.s. For all of those kind people who sent me good wishes for my son who was not well, I just want to let you know that he is doing much better. The doctors scared us silly with all kinds of dreadful possibilities, but all tests were negative! Thanks so very much for your concern!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fruit and Vegetables, 2

Anther place you can buy your fresh produce is from a street vendor. The reasons for prefering a vendor to a supermarket are basically price and convenience.

Prices are usually lower at a street vendor. This was actually an issue of contention discussed during the local mayoral campaign last spring. It is doesn't want to accuse...that perhaps some, and I'm not saying all, and I'm certainly not saying this guy here...but some of these vendors might not actually have a sales license... And if you don't have to pay all those taxes, why not pass the savings on to the consumer? Every good businessman knows that lower prices pull in customers.

As for convenience, if you live in the town center and you happen to live near one of these vendors, or pass by on your way home for lunch...well, there he is, waiting for you right there on the corner. No line to weigh things, no line at the checkout counter, no waiting for a sales receipt, he won't ask you to pay for your plastic bag...

I don't think that freshness or quality are an issue here. Sometimes these guys have produce that is locally grown, but no more or less than the supermarkets. You can see the bananas in the photo, and I can guarantee you that there are no banana plantations anywhere around here!

Just for your information, the building behind the vendor on the left is my older son's junior high. I shot this photo while waiting to pick him up after school. Every moment of the day offers a potential photo opportunity! :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fruit and Vegetables

There are a few different ways you can come by your fruit and vegetables in Molfetta.

The first is to go to the supermarket. Some local supermarkets have gotten into the habit of pre-packaging set quantities of each food, so as to skip the step of you having to pick each piece of produce individually, have it weighed and priced. Personally, I'm not fond of that method unless I'm in a big hurry (which does happen to be the case more often than I'd like!).

I prefer to choose my produce by myself.

For environmental reasons, I like to see produce that is free of plastic or styrofoam packaging. I think packaging is one of the great evils of our age!

And aesthetically, I like the way the produce looks lying there in its bin, all fresh and shiny!

Tomorrow I'll show you another produce shopping option...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Madonna of the Martyrs Church

Yesterday's statue stands just across from this church which is home to the venerated statue of the Madonna of the Martyrs that I showed you during the festival of Saint Conrad in early September.

The first written documents that refer to this church date back to 1162 where it is mentioned as a chapel annexed to the hospital for pilgrims enroute or returning from the Holy Land (i.e., crusaders). In the photo you can see a stone wall with two flags, the hospital lies behind that wall, you can still visit it today. It is believed that there was a previous chapel on the same site and a pagan worshipping place previous to that.

The church we see today is Neogothic in style. Besides housing the statue of the Madonna which is said to be named Glikophylousa and to have been carried back from the "Orient" at the end of the 12th century by crusaders, the church complex also hosts a community of monks. It is possible to lodge with them when visiting Molfetta. For information, consult the following site.

This video is rather poor in quality, but it shows the church from a different angle and yesterday's statue is also visible.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Madonna and Child

This statue is located in front of the Madonna dei Martiri church at the north end of town. I don't know the name of the sculpture or year of installation, or anything, unfortunately...I forgot to take notes when I shot the photo! Currently I am not getting out of the house much as my younger son is having some health problems and is confined to bed. But I promise to find out more about this statue and let you know as soon as possible!

I wanted to post the photo even without all the details because one of my readers, Lagrasta, whose family comes from Molfetta, although he lives in the USA, mentioned that he loved this statue. At least, I believe this is the one he had in mind! (Let me know if this is not the right one, Lagrasta!)

Today I received the Blogging Friends Forever Award from Petrea of Pasadena Daily Photo (and other!) fame. I am so thrilled to receive this award because I admire Petrea and her blog for her thought-provoking photos and writing. I think it's especially nice that it's an award for "friends." I'm honored to be a friend of Petrea! We need all the friends we can get, I say!

Now, I get to give the award in turn to five bloggers, according to the following rules:
1. Only five people are allowed.
2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.
3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

My award recipients are:

Hilda of My Manila, who is perhaps my most faithful comment-leaver. I am always thrilled to hear what she has to say about my photos!

Michelle of Bleeding Espresso, who, whether she knows it or not, was one of my very first blogging inspirations!

Fabrizio of Torino Daily Photo, who has offered me kind support from the very beginning!

Kimy of Mouse Medicine and Lakewood Daily Snap, whose work is inspiring and moving. I thank her for her comments and support which have meant a lot to me!

My new friend is Nobu of Funabashi Daily Cell Phone Photo whose photos take me back to my days in Japan and whose haiku are truly lovely!

Take a moment to visit my friends at their blogs, I think you'll enjoy them!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cassa di Risparmio

This small yellow building is located on the port across from the Monument to the Mariner. If you look at the photo in my blog header, this building is located just out of the photo on the right.

The inscription "Cassa Di Risparmio" means this was once a savings bank. It currently houses some of the city offices. If you enlarge the photo you can see that some city employee has cultivated quite a few plants in one of the windows on the side of the building!

The smaller kiosk to the left is an ice-cream shop called Gelateria Lena. It has been there a long time, I believe at least as far back as the 1970s.

The quality of the photo is not great as it was taken at little Kodak tries its best, but we can only ask so much of it! ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monument to the Mariner

This monument to the mariner is located on the port. The base is a stylised wave on which are perched the mariner (the rather phallic looking bit!), his fishing rod and boat.

The monument was designed and constructed in 1999 by Giuseppe Maraniello, who is not a local artist. He participated in a design competition and his proposal was selected by a local jury.

It was received by the majority of Molfettans with great skepticism and criticism. I think they had something a bit more traditional in mind.

Personally, I like it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eduardo Scissorhands

Are you getting tired of this little tour around the Molfettan countryside? Just a bit of patience and I'll soon take you back to town!

The countryside is very important in Molfettan culture. The two bastions of the local economy were traditionally the sea and the countryside. The sea for fishing and commerce, the countryside for agriculture: olives, mainly, but definitely not only.

Locally, olive trees are pruned so that all the upward growing branches are cut off and only the downward growing ones remain. This facilitates the harvesting of the just have to rake down the branches to pull off the olives, rather than having to climb up into the tree, chasing after the fruit on those upper branches.

The result is some pretty strange looking gnarled and contorted trees. I'm not sure what the owner of this tree had in mind with his attempt at topiary, but it looks kind of like a French poodle to me!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Crocuses

To make up for the lack of autumn color these bright yellow crocuses grow at the base of the dry stone walls along the sides of the country lanes around Molfetta. I have always associated crocuses with spring, but it seems there are some species that bloom in the fall.

The name "crocus" is derived from the Latin crocatus, meaning saffron yellow. The spice saffron is obtained from the stamens of Crocus sativus, a fall-blooming species, but this flower is not that type...too bad! It would be nice to have a cheap source of saffron just growing along the side of the road!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a Little Fall Color

We really don't get fall colors here in Molfetta. Most of the local trees are either olives or pines, which don't change color, or other trees with leaves that just turn a drab brown.

I found this plant growing along a fence out in the countryside. My husband says it's Canadian ivy and since I know so little about plants, I'm willing to take his word for it. If you have a better name for it, do let me know!
Here's a larger view of it. It's not Vermont, but I'll take what I can get, fall color-wise!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Santa Serafina

Italians celebrate two days each year that are special for them individually: one is their birthday, and the other is their saint's day. For those of you who do not know, every Catholic saint has a day of the year that is celebrated as his or her "day" and everyone with that saint's name is also celebrated that day. Today, for example, it's the day for Saints Isaac and Laura the Martyr. I know because all Italian calendars have the saints written on each day.

Last Sunday was the special day for Saint Seraphim. My husband's maternal grandmother was named Serafina (the female version of the name in Italian). Italian tradition (no longer respected by everyone)requires that children be named after their grandparents, so the firstborn son takes the name of his father's father. The firstborn daughter takes the name of her father's mother. The second son takes the name of his mother's father and the second daughter takes her mother's mother's name. Further children can be named somewhat more creatively.

My sister-in-law is, therefore, named Serafina and she has several cousins with the same name. They all have nicknames because Serafina is considered an old-fashioned name, so we have Serì, Fiorella, Nella, Nellì, etc. And it can get confusing when lots of people in the family have the same name!
In honour of her grandmother, and as a convenient excuse to gather the family together (it seems like we only get together for funerals recently!) my sister-in-law organised a special mass in her mother's home. My mother-in-law is no longer very mobile and doesn't get out to mass anymore, so the mass combined with a family reunion was a nice treat for her.

These photos are of the beautiful altar that my sister-in-law prepared on the dining-room table.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Behind Doors of Other Colors

You may remember the little country house with the bright red door I posted recently. On my runs through the countryside I have noticed things I never noticed before I started photographing everything. For example, I've noticed that there are lots of these little houses with a wide variety of door colors...
Same house...different doors...

The pink door...
The green door...

This one looks like it was painted with the same batch of paint they use in town for all the window shutters!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flowers and Olive Trees

This is another flower growing in a corner of my yard at the foot of one of our 16 olive trees. I am hopeless with plants in general and never know their names...can anyone help me identify this little flower?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lunch with Friends

After an unseasonal cold spell in September, beautiful warm weather has returned. Recently at lunchtime we have been eating outside on the patio, which is a truly special pleasure we are not able to enjoy as often as you might think. In the summer it is just too hot. In the winter, too cold. Spring and fall, however are just right (said Goldilocks).

The only problem is that we have to share our meal with what at times seems like swarms of unwanted on the photo to enlarge it and see two of our dear little friends.

This 1999 song about the joys of riding around on a Vespa motorbike is by the shortlived Italian group "Lùnapop." "Vespa" also means "wasp" in Italian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Got so bored in the nth unproductive meeting at work the other day that I started taking photos of anything and everything in the room!

The heads you see are three of my 70+ language teaching colleagues, from left to right you see an English man, a French women and an Irish man. Their heads of hair are as diverse as they themselves are. Some have more, some have less. Some are blond, brunette or greying.

What unites us all is a desire to have our work recognised and be fairly paid for it...not asking for too much, is it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Room with a View

The university I teach at has a very urban setting, completely different from the university I attended in northern California, which had a vast campus complete with wide green lawns and ivy-covered buildings.

During lessons I always wonder what it must be like to live across the street and know that your house is possibly being ogled by hundreds of students trapped in classrooms. I know I'd spend a lot less time on the balcony if I lived there!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Panificio Jolly

For fresh and delicious baked goods, be sure to drop by the Jolly Bakery on Viale Pio XI. In the photo above, you can see individual size focaccias (like mini deepdish pizzas), sandwiches and mini savory tarts with puff pastry crusts.

Below, a vast selection of breads, cookies and taralli (a Puglian snack food that vaguely resembles a harder version of a pretzel).

Sunday, October 12, 2008


This little potted geranium brightens up our yard. I'm not sure what happened in this photo, but I have not tweaked the color in any way.
Wishing you all a beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Via Pietro Colletta

What used to be somebody's farmhouse out in the countryside is now an anachronism located in the middle of modern apartment buildings, city streets and traffic at the dead end of Via Pietro Colletta.

The two photos below show what's left of the stables.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love Gone Wrong

Imagine being a sweet young thing and having this incredible declaration "Valeria, I love you..." painted six feet high on the wall. How romantic, how exciting, what a demonstration of true sentiment!

Nothing could stir up your emotions more...

Except perhaps to see the whole thing crossed out with an even larger X! Oops! Changed my mind...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Br-reakdown service

I'm not sure how reassured I feel knowing that these fine vehicles are here awaiting the call to come tow away my broken down car. Perhaps it's something about the way the back of the truck's cab seems bashed in, maybe it's the spare tires leaning up against it that give me the impression that it doesn't see a lot of action...

No, I've decided! It's the way they've misspelled "breakdown service" along the truck's side. What should say "soccorso stradale" (with one T in the second word) instead says "SOCCORSO ST TRADALE".

I know this reveals my annoying English teacher perfectionism, but really, how can you trust a service that permanently *paints on* a spelling mistake? ;-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All Gassed Up

This plain, but functional structure is the methane gas distributor in Molfetta. It is located outside of town in the countryside, as all methane gas distributors are. (Risk of explosion? I don't want to know...)

Our car runs on what they call Bi-Power, meaning it can use either regular gasoline or methane. Methane, for the moment, costs a lot less than what you pay for regular gas, the price of which keeps going up, up, up. As of yesterday, the average price for a litre of unleaded in Italy was €1.42. Those of you in the States keep in mind that a litre is only a quarter of a gallon, so you have to multiply that price by 4 to make a comparison...imagine paying $5.68 a gallon!

Unfortunately, methane prices have also been rising recently. Yesterday's average price nationally was €.92.

That's why I take the train to work...

Gasolina, Daddy Yankee (2005)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Massimo D'Alema

My husband took this cellphone photo of Massimo D'Alema at the Democratic Party (PD) festival in Bari Sunday evening. D'Alema is a journalist and a politician. He was formerly national secretary of the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS). He was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2000, and later he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2008. He is currently an opposition Member of Parliament, elected in the region of Puglia (where Molfetta is located).

It's hard to keep track of these Italian politicians' cv's. Things change so fast around political parties seem to spring up every day, new prime ministers appear in the blink of an eye, people get elected in regions they otherwise may never have set foot in... It's rather complex, to say the least.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Torre Villotta

The territory in and around Molfetta is dotted with many watchtowers that in days gone by served to defend the local population from invading Longobards, Byzantines and pirates in general.

They "sounded" the alarm by means of setting large fires. The flames were visible at night and the smoke sent the same message by day to the people living in the nearby towns and countryside.

Torre Villotta was built in the 12th century and is part of a fortified farmhouse in the countryside inland of Molfetta. It is said that Boemondo, Prince of Taranto, Duke of Calabria and later Prince of Antioch, lodged here as he was preparing to set off on the First Crusade. It is known for a fact that the tower sheltered a large number of Molfettans during the sacking of the city by the French in 1529.

The tower is currently owned by Marquis De Luca. Yes, we have a marquis in Molfetta!

For a view of another local watchtower, look here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back to Church

Today was the first Sunday of the "catechistic year." This means the period of the year in which children attend catechism. It starts in October and ends in early June.

My family is Catholic, but not particularly devout. A great many Italians (though certainly not all) care that their children receive all the key sacraments: baptism, first communion and confirmation, even if they do not themselves attend church regularly, or, in many cases, at all. We attend for the length of the catechistic year...and then go on religious vacation.

One day while I was visiting a friend, the local priest stopped by to bless her house. He asked why he hadn't seen her at mass. She explained that she was a believer, but not an attender of mass. I chipped in that my family are believers, but only seasonal attenders...during the catechistic year.

I'm not sure if that makes us hypocrites...or just religiously lazy?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

She Drives Me Crazy

There are those of you who will point out to me that taking pictures while driving is probably not the best idea.

I know.

But, I couldn't resist the opportunity to show you the streets of Molfetta in action.

Red light at the busy intersection of Via Terlizzi and Corso Fornari.
Red light at Via Baccarini and Piazza Don Luigi Sturzo. Note old lady with shopping bags not being given right of way.
Not yet had your fix of cranes and green shutters? Stick around...

She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals, 1989

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Olives are Beginning to Ripen

We have different varieties of olives growing in our yard. Some are called Nolca and are good fried. For a recipe take a look at my other blog. We have already harvested those. In late October/early November we'll harvest the olives that we'll press to make our own oil.

In this photo, my husband and oldest son are gathering another kind of olive that is treated in a saltwater and lime solution. That may sound strange, but I assure you the result is delicious! These olives are very large and green. Forgive me if I don't know the name of the variety, but we are really not farmers!

The photo is a bit dark, but it was a dark day. Quite a change from the perfect blue skies I showed you this summer!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Come Dance in Puglia

We tend to show the pretty parts of our towns in our daily city blogs. Maybe because that's what we choose to see. There's enough unpleasant stuff around us anyway, why focus on it?

But, today I wanted to share a video by a Molfettan rapper who has become quite famous nationally. His stage name is Caparezza, which means Curlytop in the local dialect.

His music is rap/pop rock with a strong political slant. He tells it like it is and has even dedicated a song to our mayor, who is a story all in his own! In this video clip, called Come Dance in Puglia (the region Molfetta is located in), he denounces the problems being ignored in this region while emphasis is focused on trying to increase tourism. The song is sung to the rhythm of the "tarantella" which is a traditional music/dance of this region.
(The singer at the very beginning is Al Bano, a *very* famous Italian singer and also from Puglia.)

Vieni a Ballare in Puglia, by Caparezza (2008)
(my translation)

The dolphins go to dance on the beaches.
The elephants go to dance in unknown cemeteries.
The clouds go to dance on the horizon.
The trains go to dance in museums with an entrance fee.
And you, where do you go to dance?

Come dance in Puglia, Puglia, Puglia,
tremulous like a leaf, leaf, leaf.
Hold your head high when you walk past a crane,
because it might break and fall down.

Hey, tourist, I know you're staying in this Italic place.
Be careful, you cross the pass, but this land will send you to the madhouse.
Adriatic and Ionian Seas, you want to breathe the iodine,
but here in the gulf it stinks of sulphur, because the demon is coming.

Tanned with fear from the dioxin from ILVA (note: a steel producing company), here you'll get redder than Milva (note: a redheaded Italian singer) and then you'll look like Pimpa (note: an Italian cartoon dog covered with red spots). In the area they sell the best fatal infections: some have smoked poison at ENI (note: Italian National Energy company), those who have worked there have even gone into a coma. Even the Gargano smokes, with all those forests on fire. Tourist you dance and you sing, I count the deceased of this country, where those sly folks who build factories, no, they spare no expense; they think the Kyoto Protocol is an erotic Japanese film.

Come dance in Puglia, Puglia, Puglia
where the night is dark, dark,
so much so that you close your eyes and you don't reopen them.
Come dance and scratch your balls, too
You must dance in Puglia, Puglia, Puglia
tremulous like a leaf, leaf, leaf.
Hold your head high when you walk past a crane
because it might break and fall down.

It's true that it's a party here, but the people are depressed and run-down:
I have a friend who had to get a job in a factory to kill himself.
Between a pole falling down and a tube exploding,
in that bedlam those who work get bumped off;
and those who don't work buy drugs and make a name for themselves,
until they clutter up the tomb.
Come dance, buddy, in the tomato fields,
where the Mafia enslaves the workers, and if you rebel you're out.
Romenians crammed into cubbyholes like peeled tomatos in cans.
Forced to submit to the blackmail of big men, but big like confetti.
Tourist you keep your sandals on, don't cause a scandal if we are ungrateful
and have forgotten we are the children of emigrants.
Mortified, we won't ruin your trip.
Come on, come to Puglia, come to the better life.

Come dance in Puglia, Puglia, Puglia
where the night is dark, dark, dark,
so much so that you close your eyes and you don't reopen them.
Come dance and scratch your balls, too
You must dance in Puglia, Puglia
where waiting for you is the executioner, executioner, executioner.
On the streetcorners more swords than King Arthur,
the abyss opens and you go straight to Beezelbub.

Oh Puglia, my Puglia, my Puglia,
I always carry you in my heart when I go away.
And I immediately think that I could die without you.
And I immediately think that I could also die with you.
(The caption at the end of the video says: "No Puglians were mistreated during the making of this video.")

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


These lines were spotted above the train tracks at the Molfetta Station. Note yet another crane in the background!

Today is Monthly Theme Day in the City Daily Photo community. Our theme this month is "Lines."

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants