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  • Writer's pictureMegan Frye

Dispatch from Bari, Italy

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Bari, Italy nearly broke me.

The melange of pounding sun, strikingly beautiful people and ancient relics had taken its toll on my romantic heart. On my transiting body. I paused and nearly sobbed. It was a moment that I am grateful for, when I was forced to catch my breath and acknowledge I was extremely lucky to be there, in this rapt seaside village, purposefully lost among the Medieval walls, dizzy from the heat, courted by the eyes of violinists and accordion players; full of orecchiette and pistachio pesto.

What a place.

95 degrees. Siesta hour. Green-eyed locals.

The Adriatic Coast has carried pirates and saints to this port. From Turkey, North Africa, Greece and Rome. Thousands of years of history are now just living and breathing still among these thick limestone walls, its narrow streets filled with people as the sun begins to fade, playing cards, watching soccer. Teenaged boys with diamond earrings piling upon each other's bikes, yelling and hollering with macho youth. Women in black leather boots, arm in arm. Men with long hair. Girls in matching dresses. Cigarettes, lipstick, coffee, wine. Old women chattering on their balconies, among the day's drying laundry.

What a place.

I wandered into the Basilica de San Nicola, where the generous saint's remains (what bits of him hadn't already been chopped off, stolen and sold to churches and nobility across Europe) have been encrypted in the basement since 1089. Whirls of myrrh smoke and the cool temperatures inside the church relaxed me immediately, and I spent some time here, watching people on their pilgrimages, honoring and beseeching of Saint Nicholas, leaving notes and coins, lists and gifts.

What a place.

I jumped into the sea and allowed myself to just float, the Adriatic's salinity increased by high temperatures. I wonder of all the places in the world, how I am here right now and what that all means and how it doesn't matter anyway, because it's phenomenal and I was born to live. And living is simply a creative way of dying.

What a place.

It's the kind of place that made me quite grateful to be alive, even right now. Even in the scorched times. I'd call it a time capsule, but it's something else, because it's very much right now, with us all on this precipice of awakening. Just let me dream for a while longer that there are more places like this. And if for some reason there aren't, I'm glad my path led me here because it is the finest expression of human majesty I have experienced in a long, long time.

What a place.


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