Carol Forster column

The old part of Barletta.
The old part of Barletta.

Barletta is a place which never fails to impress me.

Not a big city like Rome or Naples, or some fancy place like the Amalfi coast.

It isn’t beyond words like Venice, but it has something.

It has that indefinable quality that makes it different and special - somewhere you want to return to again and again.

Although unpretentious and not expecting you to swap your Sardinian beach holiday for here, it has a certain charm and elegance, especially in the old town, with its typical Italian architecture and delicious restaurants, by the sea.

As with Lecce, I find Barlettans very warm and friendly.

In fact this quality is even more pronounced here.

They exude positivity and joy.

Always joking and laughing, they rarely accept negativity, even if the world forces it upon them.

It has changed a bit since I first came in 1989.

Back then I really did feel like an alien going back to the 1950s.

Quaint, traditional and old-fashioned, it wasn’t on the tourist trail, so foreign visitors were quite unusual.

However, whereas in some parts of the world, this might have aroused a suspicious reserve, here they positively embraced me, for all my novelty value and difference.

I was accepted and welcomed and will never forget how touching that was.

I was invited into their family homes and taken under their wing.

Accompanied on visits and shown all the sights with my heart-warming hosts.

These days, with modern technology, inspiring surprise is a little more difficult.

Barletta is now used to its foreign visitors and international business links.

It has adapted to the global world and spruced up the town accordingly.

No one bats an eyelid when someone visits from abroad nowadays.

Barletta has arrived in the 21st century.

I must admit to finding this loss of innocence very poignant and it does evoke for me a nostalgia for the past, but the basic nature of the locals hasn’t changed at all.

They remain kind and welcoming.

I’ve been to many places in my life, but this one stays the closest to my heart.