Moving to the south of Italy wasn’t something I had planned. It was a spur of the moment decision based on a job offer. One moment I was living in Istanbul and the next I found myself on an early morning flight to Rome. By the time the train pulled into Bari Centrale, it was almost midnight.
The next morning I woke up to a whole new world. I had never been that far south on the map before and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The first thing I noticed was the intense quality of the sunlight and what I remember impressing me the most was the clarity of the sea and it’s various shades of blue.
In this post I want to share with you what I loved most about life in the south of Italy and what I didn’t.
What I Loved …
The Quality of the Food
The quality of the food in the south of Italy is unlike any I have ever eaten before. It was in the south of Italy that I learned the value of consuming locally made produce and how this enhances your quality of life. The markets moved with the seasons so there was always something new to discover or a quick rush to buy something before it was gone. Perhaps that’s why the cuisine of the south of Italy is so simple – not much is needed to enhance the already delicious flavours as long as you stick to the seasons. My favourite items in the marker were the flat onions known as la cipolla bianca di Margherita and the sea salt that comes from the same region. That combined with some tomatoes lightly pan fried in some olive oil and pasta made for a very satisfying meal.
Lots of Gluten-Free Choices & Plant Based Milks
This may not be an issue for you, but I don’t drink milk and I have a gluten intolerance which makes buying food a little difficult for me since I need to read labels. Usually, I just stick to what I know but of course this isn’t always possible when moving to a new country. In Istanbul, it was possible to buy plant based milks and some gluten free products but they were really expensive and the prices would fluctuate based on inflation. In Bari, I was surprised to find a LOT of choices and not just in the health food shops. In fact, I bought all my gluten free products and plant based milks (my favourite being rice milk) at the local supermarket. What is also awesome is that many restaurants will have gluten free options. There is also a gluten-free cafe called Colibrio which makes awesome desserts and Bari Napoli makes a pretty decent gluten-free pizza.
Quality of Life
The cost of living in Bari is quite affordable and coupled with the quality of food and the excellent healthcare, the standard of living here is good. Although it is a small city, it has a big city feel with its cafes, bars and a bustling high street that’s lined with well known brands. Just a few streets over and you are at the seaside. There are also quite a few parks close to the city centre and places like Monopoli are less than 40 mins by train.
The sushi! Amazing! One of the highlights of living in Bari was sushi night which happened to be at least twice a month. We just couldn’t get enough of the all you can eat sushi at Xuan. We tried other places but Xuan is by far our favourite.
What I Didn’t Like …
Allergies are Worse in the South
This is such an important warning if you suffer from pollen allergies like I do. For the first six months I was fine and then it hit me. I then suffered from allergies year round and had to leave. It made life unbearable. These parts of the Mediterranean are known for their Parietaria and olive pollen which can cause nasty reactions all year round that are difficult to treat with antihistamine alone if at all. Also, due to the humid climate, many apartments have problems with mold. So if you are someone who has a sensitive immune system I would think twice about moving south.
The south only tends to have two types of weather – hot or rainy. And it’s not built for rainy weather. Everything looks drab when it pours and it can rain a lot between November and March. I’m also not someone who makes the most of hot days. I prefer cooler climate.
While it’s not a place I could see myself calling home, I am very grateful for having had the chance to explore this part of the world.
What about you? Have you ever been to the south of Italy? What did you love most?