Carol Forster column

Bronze statue called Eraclio (Colosso), Barletta.
Bronze statue called Eraclio (Colosso), Barletta.

Barletta is a mini Naples by the sea, where chaos and laughter go hand in hand.

The two hour train ride from Lecce to Barletta is such a pleasure too – green olive groves; cacti, tobacco plants; meadows sprinkled with lemony flowers and peach toned villas all stretch down to the blue Adriatic sea. Finally, to arrive is like arriving at your own birthday party.

Full of ‘brio’, the Barlettans ooze fun and good humour, always with the warmest of welcomes.

I usually stay at sublime ‘Hotel dei Cavallieri’, my home from home haven, there ensconced with delicious Italian dishes to satisfy all culinary desires. Or, there’s stylish St. Patrick’s, a feast on a plate.

And what a surprise this town can be – the first time I turned a street corner and saw Eraclio, I thought I was seeing things.

This is one big bronze statue standing proudly on Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II.

Nearby, pretty ice-cream coloured palazzi are often adorned with flowers, whilst the old limestoned town tells of more ancient times.

Barletta is brimful of characters, now recalled from past and present. There’s jolly Giuseppe Giuggi Dimonte, a Beatles fan with humorous ways and kindly Michele the barman who slid my morning cappuccios across the bar with a knowing smile.

Or, the nonchalant farmer who gave me a lift on his horse and cart to the nearest train station, one sleepy Sunday morning, when trains were sparse; my time-fuelled panic – a plane to catch – at odds with the lazy clip-clop of hooves on some road or other, and the rising sun.

And I’ll never forget my simpatico students, recalled with much love, whose laughter echoed everywhere on warm, fun-filled evenings whilst in sunbathing June, I looked out to sea and thought how timeless and ancient it seemed.

And those little scamps, who ran rings round me – all part of the fabric of life in this town. With its irrepressible spirit, it has to be said, that the kind, funny folk make this place what it is.