Trani was the first town we visited on our recent road trip through Puglia and Basilicata, and alongside Matera, which left a deep trace in my heart and in my mind, might be my favorite.
It may not be the most beautiful, the cleanest, the greenest or the most organised town I've been to, but for some reason it got under my skin, in a way that I would love to return, not just once as a tourist, but as if I was visiting old and dear friend.
I can not define what exactly made me feel connected to this town.
Maybe it's the beautiful park of Villa Comunale which stands like an oasis of green between the sea and the stone paved streets of the town behind, overlooking the port and the majestic cathedral of San Nicola Pellegrino.
Maybe it's the kids, loads of kids, playing in the park and on the streets, tag, football, or whatever game kids used to play outside, a view uncommon these days.
Maybe it's the simple beauty of the romanesque seafront cathedral, which dominates the townscape, both by day and night, and the square in front of it which becomes a lively meeting place in the evening.
Maybe it's the baker in the supermarket, who seeing that we are in doubt of which pie to choose said: "Questa. Melanzane e pomodoro. Buonissima. Te lo consiglio io." ("This one. Aubergines and tomato. Delicious. I recommend it.").
Maybe it's the golden hour, which makes the town and its port emanate golden, pink, and orange shades.
Maybe it's the colorful boats in the port, and the fishermen selling fresh fish directly on the boardwalk.
Maybe it's because it reminds me of my favorite Croatian coastal town Rovinj, a place where I used to spend happy summers when I was a kid.
Maybe it's the perfect seafood dinner we had in a beautiful restaurant called Osteria Frangipane (if we were living there, we would certainly call it "ours"). I still can't get over the fried little red mullets, best fried fish I've ever had.
Or the happy morning we spent eating fresh and fragrant croissants (cornettos, as Italians call them) in Bar Centrale, my new favorite breakfast spot in all of Italy.
Despite all of that, there are literally no foreign tourists in Trani in July. Maybe some Italians, but also scarce. There are no crowds in front of the cathedral, no full restaurants for dinner, no tourist menus, no plastic flip flops and tacky beachwear stores. Only golden cobble stoned streets, white cityscape, and simple everyday life by the sea.
I realize that someone might not like Trani as much as I did. It may take only one rainy day or lousy restaurant to take the magic away, but with me and Trani it all just clicked perfectly.