Good morning all on Tuesday 16th February. These are interesting times in Italy, with yesterday's story about the real-life whodunnit on the Tuscan island of Capraia, followed today by wild cats roaming the streets of Puglia which I'll get to shortly.
The pandemic news is very good today with the number of new Covid 19 cases yesterday dropping to 7,351: that's a fall of 3,717 compared to the previous day and the lowest number since the middle of October last year. Also, the number of people currently infected has lowered by 4,685 to dip below the 400,000 mark for the first time since I started this blog; that overall figure now standing at 398,098.
Matters meteorological continue to be a source of news at the moment with snow reported on the coast of Calabria and even further south, in Sicily, while high winds have been playing havoc with ferries on the islands of Capri in Campania and Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands. Turin keeps its unwanted title of coldest Italian city today with a top temperature of just 2° Celsius while Catania proudly remains at the opposite end of the scale although without that much to shout about at a miserly 12° Celsius. It is sunny in most places though.
Strange as these times are, they've just got even stranger with reports emanating from Puglia of a Black Panther wandering around rural areas of the Metropolitan City of Bari province. Locals have been advised to avoid open spaces and fields while the law enforcement authorities track down the rogue beast. No explanation has been provided as to why this should suddenly happen although one theory suggests that it could be a pet that has escaped. Around this time last year there were similar sightings in Puglia which were attributed to an animal that had fled from his owner: a supposed Mafia boss.
We can assume that the panther's first instincts are to forage for food but let's have a look at what he or she might be encountering in the local area. Well, Bari itself is the biggest city in Puglia and its capital. Its most famous sight is the Basilica di San Nicola and it's one of the most important port cities in Italy. It lies on the Adriatic Coast where a short trundle down the motorway brings you to the beautiful seaside town of Polignano a Mare: the former home of Domenico Modugno, he of the "Volare" song.
North along the coast from Bari there's a clutch of picturesque fishing towns that come one after the other, starting with Giovinazzo and continuing on to Molfetta, Bisceglie and Trani. There's also much to see inland of Bari with historic towns such as Conversano, Bitonto and Ruvo di Puglia which sits just at the edge of the Alta Murgia National Park. Two of Puglia's UNESCO World Heritage sites are also within an hour's drive of Bari: the amazing Trulli Houses of Alberobello south-east of Bari while the mystical Castel del Monte lies directly west of the city.
All this gives me the chance to post some pretty pictures of Puglia and I'll be back with more fun and games tomorrow.
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My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.