Saturday, 4 October 2014



 Today we went to an ancient sea-port city, once the seat of a Byzantine archbishop. We entered the borgo antico, the old town, through the absolutely massive gate.The castle of which it is part was built by the city's Aragonese overlords after they took over from the Turks (see below).

We turned left to reach the wide harbourside promenade. It hadn't long stopped raining and the calm sea and clear light made for an entrancing view.

On the promenade is a memorial to the 800 Christians beheaded by the Turks under Ahmed Pasha when they invaded in 1480 when they refused to renounce their faith. They were all proclaimed martyrs.

We headed along the main street past the inevitable tourist shops to reach the Piazza del Popolo with its delicate pink bell tower.

The winding road led us up to the cathedral, with its beautiful Baroque rose window and portal. These embellishments date from the 17th century, but the core of the cathedral dates from the 12th century, when the city was under Norman rule.

There was a wedding on, hence the pink balloon with legend sposi oggi, married today.  As a result, we were able to get in to see the wonderful mosaics which cover the entire floor - it would otherwise have been shut for lunch.

The whole floor of the nave is covered by a stylised Tree of Life said to have been created by a single monk, Pantaleone, in 1163. There all sorts of creatures, like this stag with an arrow in its mouth, in the branches, and depictions of the life of Man.

Outside we admired the massive bell tower, apparently used more as an alarm in times of danger than to summon the faithful for prayer.

After this we returned to the harbourside having frustratingly failed to find the other great site of the city, the tiny 9th century chapel of San Pietro with its frescoes. We comforted ourselves with a nice fish lunch and afterwards notice how different the view across the harbour looked now the light had changed.

To conclude our visit, we drove round to the other side and took the view back at the head of this post.

Conditions: warm, some cloud.

Distance: 2 miles.

Rating: four stars.

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