At this point, the tour continues on foot to the Odegitria square on which stands the Cathedral dedicated to San Sabino.
Among the streets and squares of the old village
First you have to go through the narrower street of Bari Vecchia called also the alley of the “kiss” near the Santa Lucia votive burial.
It is also characteristic of Largo Albicocca, one of the most beautiful spots in Bari Vecchia, which has become the ‘Place of Love’ since the 14th of this year, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Swedish Ikea colony in Bari by furnishings, panels and colored waterers, which have re-qualified and made the urban space cheerful.
The Cathedral is an important example of Puglia Romanesque built on the ruins of the Byzantine cathedral destroyed by William I called the Malo.
Internally, the church, which has been stripped of all Baroque structures, appears in its naked solemnity, with three naves separated by two rows of eight slender columns, probably from the Byzantine building.
In the crypt, which was transformed into the eighteenth century, the Byzantine table of the Virgin Odegitria, the principal patron of the city with St. Nicholas, is preserved, according to the tradition that came from the East in the eighth century, but in fact later, while in the high altar there are the remains of San Sabino, bishop of Canosa and holder of the Cathedral.
In the majestic cathedral, every year, a phenomenon occurs which, over a thousand years, has come “to light” in a casual manner during the restoration work in 2002. After a new layout of the benches was made to make the mosaic rosette visible covered until then completely, during the summer solstice, the shape of the rose window of the façade drawn by the sun’s rays lays the mosaic of the floor which has the same shapes and dimensions of the rosette placed above, until it fits.
After the cathedral, the obligatory stop becomes the church of St. Nicholas built to guard the remains of the saintly transgressor in Mira in Turkey by sixty-two sailors of Bari in 1087 who found their dwelling under the altar in the crypt faced by twenty-eight columns made of rare stones and topped by stupendous capitals.
Particularly important is the coexistence within the crypt of an Orthodox chapel and therefore of two altars: one dedicated to the Catholic rite and the other to the orthodox rite.
Going down the stairs to the right, enclosed by an iron grating, is the “miraculous” column in red porphyry, which for centuries attracts the devotion of pilgrims convinced of its thaumaturgical virtues.
There are so many legends about its powers: one of the most popular is that that column had been pulled by the oxen carrying the relics of St. Nicholas and was also seen floating in the waters of Bari on the arrival in the town of the relics of the future patron, until it was placed by St. Nicholas himself inside the crypt.
In the old tradition of Bari Vecchia, girls looking for a husband on the night of December 6 have to make at least seven laps around this column but since 2007, for security issues, the column was fixed to the wall and put in protection from an iron grating.
The imposing and white façade, solemn and severe, is hut with two side towers of different height and bill, Torre del Catapano on the right, Torre delle Milizie on the left, and hangs on the court of Catapano, the Greek-Byzantine governor of Italy South between 968 and 1071.
The interior is surprisingly magnificent: the basilica was the first monumental church with matronees in Puglia. The ceiling is carved and golden and is adorned with 17th century painted parcels.
In the central apse above the altar under the canopy there is the chair of bishop Elia, founder of the basilica, a true masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture. Behind it is the monument to Bona Sforza, the last Duchess of Bari, who seems to watch over the church and the city.
Returning to the promenade we resumed our train and continued our tour between the medieval wall and the sea. In the fresh and clear day, the Fortino, the monastery of Santa Scolastica, the walls of the castle on the square Federico II of Swabia, with the tall medieval houses and the church of the Holy Trinity, go before our eyes.
Then we go back to the base along Corso Cavour and pass in front of the Petruzzelli Theater, a symbol of the modern city reborn after the terrible fire that devastated it in 1991.
Our tour is over: traveling is always a pleasure even on a train that does not go beyond the boundaries of the city center of Bari, because it still allows us to broaden our horizons with new knowledge and many encounters, enhancing friendships as it is happened to us, and why even around a small and colorful tourist train you can find your roots.