The Puglia Diaries

The thrills and spills of a British Council Language Assistant in Molfetta, Italy

Trani by Day and by Night

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I always complain about time going too fast, and it’s happening again. This past week has been a blur of lessons, new places and day trips. Last Tuesday, I went to see a horror film in Italian (still as scary, if not scarier in another language). I spent Friday afternoon reading Towards Zero on a bench facing the port and staring out to sea with a goofy smile on my face. On Saturday, I tried a Sicilian rice ball speciality called arancino and played ping pong in a doctor’s surgery. My improvements in Italian have been revealed by a game of Pictionary in a pub in Bisceglie. I understood about two thirds of the words on the cards, managed to guess quite a few of my team mates’ drawings and learned the word for parrot. Quite a success, I think.


The view from the bench I have adopted.

I have seen a little bit more of Puglia since I last wrote : I have been to Trani twice, once on a night out with my friends from Molfetta and again on a day trip with Katie. A little north of Molfetta on the coast, Trani attracts more tourists, because it boasts a beautiful Cathedral on the seafront and a famous courthouse where apparently Berlusconi was tried.

 About ten days ago, we headed to Trani especially for a coveted burger in a restaurant called Hamburger Art. Having parked the car and started walking, we rang them up and asked for a table. The answer was ‘Not before midnight’, and it was 9:30pm. By democratic vote, it was decided that we would wait until that promised hour and then go for our hamburgers. Some were vocal, some were resigned, others were determined they were having their hamburger. We walked around the port and the old city, lit with purple spotlights and busy with people. The bars stretched out their tables on the curved promenade so we stopped in one to while the time away. It was 1am before we got our burgers: mine was very tasty actually, and cheap, but others were less impressed. I think they were just grumpy about being hungry for so long. While I was eating, I tried not to look at the pictures on the wall of the eleven-layered monstrosity that Hamburger Art offers. The boys settled for a modest 3 levels and the girls were content with just 1. Anyway, it was ‘fico’, a word that means cool in Italian but also fig, inexplicably.


On Saturday, I got on the 10:30 train to Trani and joined Katie on the platform. We started the day with a breakfast iced coffee, ice cream, caramel concoction on the sea front: it was already warm and people were riding around on bikes with balloons tied to their handlebars. We made our way to the Cathedral and wanted to look inside, but at the top of the steps we noticed some wedding decorations and thus narrowly avoided crashing someone’s wedding ceremony. Instead, we walked out on the promontory that stretched out to sea with a light house at the end. I saw a sausage dogs and lots of people swimming and sunbathing. In October! We stood on the rocks for quite a while, talking and looking and sighing at the blue sea.



Like Molfetta, Trani was quiet and closed in the afternoon. We passed the time with pizza, window-shopping and sitting on park benches. One of the best things we saw were these novelty cakes with some of the most bizarre/hilarious fondant icing sculptures I have ever come across. My patissière sister should be impressed.



Swan Cake


I will probably end up going again, with my mum and sister who are arriving on a late flight tonight. It will be fun to show them where I am living and try out my translating skills between English and Italian. I think I’m going to need them…


Author: Elly Cooke

Recent graduate of English Literature and Italian from the University of Leeds. Book lover and part-time Italian speaker.

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