The first thing that strikes someone who first arrives at the port of Bari, probably is the seaside. Well actually it is the coastal boulevard, wich is full of massive hotels, of the kind that actually distorts the local ambience to a very irritating point. Apparently the lessons of Southern Spain have not been learnt in the coasts of the Adriatic. Other than that Bari looks like the typical nondescript Mediteranean coastal town, with its beaches and its bars, and its wide streets.
The bus ride from the port to the central station is- even by italian standards, frantic. Imagine a bus full of backpackers, packed in it like sardines in a can. Now imagine this bus trying to swerve around obstacles and curves, with the passengers trying frantically to find something to hold on to, before getting mashed into each other, while the bus driver never lifts the foot from the gas pedal, even when trying to negotiate a turn in a street that can just hold two cars. In the end the bus screeches to a devastating stop and the drivers just finishes us off, by screaming "Arrivederci" at the top of his voice.
Now there is a funny thing when you see a bunch of backpackers squeezed into a bus, trying to break free, just in order to file into a qeue in front of the ticket offices. But, the long qeue notwithstanding, all of us poor travellers that had to suffer through the Italian bus ordeal make it to the one 'o' clock train to Rome in one piece. Yes everybody's going to Rome. Apparently mpost of the backpackers in the train are Canadian, though I don't fail to notice the token Spanish girl, plus an Argentinian, some Finns and a few Americans. The train ride to Rome takes about six hours, but it is really worth the try. After the train leaves the plains around Foggia, the really interesting part begins. The train starts to climb on the apenines, and before it reaches the area of Campagna, you get to pass through green valleys, traditional villages and ancient Roman aquaducts. Then you swiftly pass through the campagnan countryside, and reach the tremendously beautyful coast of Amalfi. Then, before you even know it, you pass next to a giant graffiti sign writing "Bienvienuto a RomaYork" (Welcome to Rome-York). The eternal city is laying before my feet, just waiting to be conquered. (to be continued on Friday, with Roma:Cittá Aperta)