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Eat Puglia | La Ciclatera Sotto il Mare, Bari

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Forget what you may have heard about Bari Vecchia being a gritty “no-go” area for locals. Extensive regeneration was undertaken years ago transforming the area into a fine destination for visitors. And while there are sparking, expensively refurbished apartments with amazing terraces overlooking the Adriatic within the old town you can still see and hear how its longtime residents continue to live, front doors opening into the cool shadow of the narrow alleyways, the sound of food being prepared and of families dining together echoing around, laundry hanging from balconies to dry in the lazy heat of the afternoon.

Everyday life as it has been and still is continues all around. With the exception perhaps of Monopoli, this isn’t something you actually notice in Lecce nor in many of our region’s other towns and cities in the way you can feel it around you in Bari.

As our waiter at La Ciclatera Sotto il Mare (just up from the Piazza del Ferrarese between the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto and the old town) explained: it’s an exciting time to be living in Bari. It feels “up and coming” - as is evident by the money still being spent on refurbishment projects in and around Bari Vecchia. There are exciting events happening that catch the imagination of the city’s young people. It feels vibrant. Now is the time, she said, to profit and enjoy before Bari becomes too commercial and overly touristic ...

La Ciclatera Sotto il Mare has a wonderful terrace in an envious position overlooking the Adriatic across to the Porto Vecchio and beyond. It’s the perfect place to enjoy something light to eat, or an aperitivo during the “golden hour” looking out towards the sea, before or after exploring the narrow, cooler alleyways and passages of the old town.

You will find friendly and enthusiastic service - our Italian waiter spoke English and French as well as Barese, the local dialect. Indeed La Ciclatera takes its name from dialect being the Barese word for a moka coffee pot.

We had two starters, with a salad and a puccia (pucce is a round type of panini typical of the region, usually sliced down the middle to make a sandwich) as a main, followed by tiramisù - we usually skip a dolce unless there's tiramisù - which we were told had a twist on the classic recipe. And it delivered. The texture had more in common with a New York (baked) cheesecake but the taste was nevertheless tiramisù with light and fluffy moist savoiardi slivers. With soft drinks, bread and coffee our bill came to €41, rounded down to €40.

La Ciclatera is LGBTQI+ friendly, and isn’t afraid to show its credentials. Like us they were sponsors of Bari Pride 2019.

La Ciclatera Sotto il Mare | via Venezia 16, 70122 Bari | € | 🌈

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