Like so many picturesque seaside towns in Puglia, Trani continues to be influenced by its proximity to the rugged Adriatic coastline.
Included in the Puglia Imperiale, Trani is one of the cities where Emperor Frederick II spent his holidays. He constructed Trani Castle in the 13th century (his son was even married here) as well as the formidable Castel del Monte approximately 23 miles inland. From Castel del Monte he could peruse his kingdom and invaders approaching the port from the east. Trani Castle endured numerous invasions and transformations over the centuries until, in 1998, it was restored for public use.
Across Piazza Manfredi is the stunning Cattedrale di San Nicola dedicated to San Nicola Pellegrino, Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim. Saint Nicholas was a poor Greek who died here in 1094 en route to a pilgrimage in Rome. Construction of the cathedral over the site of another 4th century church began in 1099, the year Nicola was canonized by Urban II.
Declared in 2002 by UNESCO as a “Monument Messenger of a Culture of Peace”, it is constructed from pale pink limestone quarried from local caves and which gives it a lovely, luminous quality. Built in Romanesque style, it is quite spectacular with its transept, triple nave, and 28 dramatic Greek marble columns. On display are the imposing 12th century bronze-clad bas-relief wooden doors recounting tales of the past.
Entering the lower floor there are remnants of 12th century frescoes and a richly decorated mosaic floor leading to the hall crypt where the relics of Saint Nicholas rest in an elegant silver shrine.
Leaving the Piazza, a pleasant stroll along the impressive sea walls will eventually lead you to a lovely harbor and marina. Fishermen are selling today’s catch and numerous bars and restaurants promise fresh fish on tonight’s menu. Lingering seems like an excellent idea, don’t you agree?