After 18 hours of travelling we arrived at the airport in Bari and met our Italian friends and their families.
Today the Mayor welcomed us to Bari and offered us refreshments. After that we went to the beach with the Italian students and had a great time. In the evening we met in the city centre and went to a restaurant. Later we found out that we had made the newspapers and the 6 oclock news on TV.
At 8:30 we started for the Gargano area. When we were driving through the valleys of this province the panorama was breathtaking. On our way we stopped in a beautiful little town called Vieste and had our lunch. When we arrived to Hotel Faro we went straight to the beach. There we could see that we were placed at the bottom of a small valley which was surrounded by beautiful cliffs and green trees. The Adrian Sea was crystal clear and warm. In the evening we had dinner at the hotel, we had swordfish, pasta, mozzarella cheese and tomato and cake for a desert. After dinner we went to a disco which started with a play and ended with music, dances and a beach party.
Almost everybody missed breakfast which was between 8 and 9:30 but that was OK because we just went to the beach (again) and we stayed in the sun the whole day. At five oclock we went home, all wanting to extend our stay. On the way back we stopped for a pizza. We all agreed that this trip was incredibly, fantastically, unbelievably, amazingly, extraordinary great.
The first day at school! The Deputy welcomed us with a short speech. After that we went to our first Italian class so we could learn to say some simple sentences in Italian. Later in the afternoon we went to see the old town of Bari. The police had to accompany us through the town for our safety. We could see the church of Saint Nicolas and it was beautiful, we also saw many other historical buildings. When we saw the people and the surroundings of the town we realised the differences between our religion and culture, it was a strange experience. After the guided tour we went shopping in the city centre and we grabbed a pizza in the evening.
The Icelanders went on a tour to see Valle dItria and caves, or grottos as they are called, and that was an amazing experience. In the caves we could make out little figures in the stalactites if we used our imagination. Then we went to the area where they have the famous Trully houses, Alberobello. Alberobello is the capital of Trulli country. It was like entering another world, a fairytale scene which enchanted us entirely. Our next stop was Locorotondo which is a farming town producing excellent wine. There we saw this beautiful town and we visited the Cantina (winery), and we tasted various kinds of wine and were even given a bottle of wine to take home. We noticed that the town was very clean and we found out that there are laws there which forbid you to have your house unclean . On the way back we stopped in a town called Polignano. We drove home after a long and good day and arrived to Bari in the evening.
In the morning we went to Italian class and then to the Saicaf coffee factory. There we were shown how the good Italian coffee is produced from the beans imported from South America. Everything is controlled by one big computer and we were offered to taste the coffee, but unfortunately very few of us drink coffee. Before we went back to school they gave us coffee to take home to Iceland. We had the whole afternoon off, so we enjoyed a day in the centre and went shopping.
In the morning we met three other classes of Italian students and we were telling each other about our countries and we discussed the differences. We discussed the school system, the government and the traffic in Italy among other things. Then we attended our 3rd Italian class, so now we can say short sentences in Italian. The afternoon was free. Some of us went shopping, but the rest went to the Sport Stadium and met the football players of Bari where there was also a journalist present. He wrote an article in one of the local papers about this event. In the evening we all met in a restaurant to celebrate Emilias birthday.
We began the day by visiting Castel del Monte which stands on a hill 540m above sea level. Its a strange building because the castle was built in an unusual octagonal plan, with eight equally octagonal towers marking the vertices of a polygon. We had an English speaking guide who told us the history of the castle and explained how special and extraordinary this castle is. Next the bus took us to a town called Ruvo. There we had a guided tour of the Cathedral and the Jatta Museum. In the Cathedral there was a wedding so we didnt go inside. The Jatta museum houses a magnificent collection of 2000 classical vases, mostly from Apulia, one of the most complete collections in the region. After a short drive we visited the Cantina (winery) in Ruvo. It was not as modern as the one we had visited before but the people were friendly and the wine was tasty. They gave us a bottle of Wine Rose to take home. In the afternoon we went on a guided tour to see the old town of Trani. By the seaside there is a beautiful Cathedral named after the pilgrim Saint Nichola Pelligrino. It is one of the finest examples of Apulian-Romanesque architecture and one of the most magnificent churches in the whole of Italy. Its construction began as early as in 1097. The cellar is the oldest part of the church and it is 0.5 m below sea level and it was amazing to feel how damp the air was. Then it was time to leave the historical place and return to the coach that took our tired group back to Bari where the hosts were waiting for us.
Departure from the school to Salento where we plan to spend the weekend but with a short stop in Lecce which is a beautiful town with lots of churches and residences of the Baroque style. People in Lecce are very polite and friendly. We had a guided tour around the old town where we saw The Roman Amphitheatre, the Cathedral and the Bishops Palace. At this point we have seen many buildings and historical places and this is so different from Iceland that it is hard to imagine for those who have not been to Italy. We arrived at the hotel in Salento and went straight to the beach and had a party in the evening. We spent the whole of Sunday relaxing on the beach until at about 5 oclock when we went on the bus to go back to Bari.
We went to school and continued our work on the WebSite project. It went really well and finished before we leave for Iceland. We had the afternoon free for strolling around in the city centre where we were very active in spending our money!
We went on an excursion to rupestral settlements in Massafra. We had to walk down a canyon to be able to see the caves that people lived in. It was educational and it was like a small safari trip. In Iceland we have never had communities where people lived in caves, only caves or holes in the lava that outlaws lived for a short period of time or tried to hide in. Then we went to another rupestral settlement located in Mottola. There was a famous church dedicated to Saint Nicolas, it was a cave in the hill and was filled with frescos of various saints. After lunch we visited an ancient ceramic gallery in a cellar in one of the old houses of Grottoglie. Then we went to a modern gallery where we watched very talented young men making and painting pottery. The owners allowed us to enter their gorgeous ceramic shop where we bought many beautiful things. After that we went to McDonald's to celebrate Omar's birthday.
This was our last day in Italy and we were all maybe a little bit homesick. We worked really hard the whole morning trying to finish the WebSite and of course we finished it. Everybody thinks this trip/project went really well and we learned a lot, it was a unique experience. In the afternoon we packed and did our last minute shopping. The evening was so nice, everybody was in a good mood and having a great time. The restaurant was good and we dressed nicely so the atmosphere was special. We danced a lot and also wrote in each others diaries to say fairwell, perhaps a few shed some tears.
We went home after 14 unforgettable sunny days in Italy but, still, glad to gasp for the cool Icelandic air.