This past weekend we celebrated Easter in Italy with some friends from Canada. Enza, her husband Mike, and her sister Angela were there visiting their family. We took the night ferry from Durres on Thursday evening and arrived in Bari early Friday morning. We took a taxi from the port into town and asked the driver to drop us off somewhere to get a cappuccino and croissants for breakfast. We did a bit of shopping, watched some of the Easter procession, and then had a nice lunch in the old district known as the Citta Vecchia. We ordered caprese salad, orecchietta pasta(hat shaped pasta typical in the Puglia region), and pizza.
After lunch we grabbed the train north from Bari to Giovinazzo where Enza’s family lives. They picked us up at the train station and offered us to come to their place for dessert. Espresso, almond stuffed figs, tiramisu, and some home-made limoncello. Delicious! After dessert, we went out to Enza’s Aunt’s land just outside of town. A summer place to go and relax during the hot summer months with fig, lemon, mandarin and cherry trees.
That evening, we joined the famiglia at the town’s Easter procession, similar to the one we saw in Bari. Each of the 7 churches literally picks of their statues and a group of men carry them through the streets of the town while the band plays music. Afterwards we were invited back for a true Italian feast. We were served calzone and fried panzerotti warmed up on the fire(both specialities of the region), foccocia bread, artichokes, and two desserts! It was such a great day.
The next morning Dan and I went for a walk through the small city and did some shopping. We wanted to bring a few items home and stock up on some Italian wine. We bought truffles, risotto, sun-dried tomatoes, taralli and orecchietta pasta. We also got a bottle of limoncello, grappa and a few bottles of wine. We had a great lunch in the piazza at a seafood restaurant. After lunch we just went down to the water and relaxed as it was a beautiful day. After our little “relax” (ie siesta) we thought we had better go find some wine. We stopped at a restaurant that was just closing up but he invited us to sit down, have some wine, and maybe a few appetizers. He brought out some bruschetta and sea urchins, a delicacy of the region. We enjoyed the afternoon sitting in the sun and sipping our Italian wine.
In the late afternoon we met up with everyone for another well-known Italian dessert, gelato. Enza’s cousins were down for easter from Milan so they joined us for an afternoon treat. After some gelato and another cappuccino we had to grab the train back to Bari and then hop on the ferry back to Albania. Our first weekend away was definitely a very special and memorable one as we got to spend it with friends and their gracious family!