The Puglia Marathon: La Maratona delle Cattedrali 2015 is only on its second year and I was excited to run a marathon that is sure to grow in size and importance in the near future. It was billed as a marathon of the five cathedrals; I knew that there will be definitely something to see along the race route.
We traveled from Brussels South Charleroi Airport to Bari on Saturday, December 19, 2015 via Ryanair FR 8707. The plane took off at 7:05 AM and after a little over two hours, we touched down at Aeroporto de Bari Karol Wojtyla. The airport is a major hub of the Puglia region south of Italy, very modern and not crowded at all.
From the airport, we took the airport train to the city of Bari. Get the timetable and the cost at the official website: Ferrotramviaria Spa.
The 16-minute ride went only to Bari centrale. From Bari we hustled to the main train station next door, bought the tickets, and rushed over to Ovest 2 track to for the Foggia-bound train that will take us to Giovinazzo which was four stops and 15 minutes away.
We walked for another 15 minutes to pick up my bib at Instituto Vittorio Emanuele before proceeding to our hotel.
S. Martin Hotel is a Benedictine nuns’ abbey that has been repurposed as a four-star hotel. More photos and information about the hotel can be found here. The hotel owner and the staff were very accommodating. We paid 80,75 euros for our room which included the breakfast buffet and complimentary wi-fi. I am truly grateful to the owner and staff who allowed us to keep our room until 4:00 PM so that I could take a shower after the marathon and be ready to travel to Brindisi.
Giovinazzo is a small cozy town by the Mediterranean sea where shops close at 1:30 PM and reopens at 5:30 PM on Saturdays. We missed the supermarket morning hours by a few minutes so we set about finding a place where we can do a late lunch.
Most of the restaurants around the piazza that were open at the time only served coffee and pastries. Fortunately, we found a small restaurant tucked away in the corner that was still open.
Richard liked the thin and crisp pizza margharita but wondered what happened to the basil ingredient. I settled for a pasta de gamberetti which I could not finish.
We wandered around town for a bit, stopping by the vending machines for hot latte mochas and walking up and down the narrow streets. We attended mass at Concattedrale di S. Maria Assunta, the fifth and final cathedral in the marathon route. The service was in Italian, but the ritual is universally the same. It felt good to be able to participate in the mass. I saw mostly older attendees and briefly wondered if Giovinazzo is a retirement or a bedroom community. It must be because it was not a Sunday mass.
Here we are at the piazza again in the evening, with the cathedral on the right.
The booths offered a variety of artisan items and flavored turrones, among others. All the walking and wandering around made us hungry. We just wanted to relax in our hotel room so we got some chicken kebabs and called it a night. Busy with the marathon tomorrow.