TRANI was one of the most important medieval Italian ports, it was a prosperous trading centre with a large mercantile and Jewish community; during the Middle Ages it rivalled Bari as a commercial port, and in the fourteenth century was powerful enough to take on the domineering Venetians.
Centrepiece of the town is the cream-coloured, eleventh-century Duomo (daily 8am–12.30pm & 3–7.30pm; free), right on the sea at the edge of the Old Town. Dedicated to San Nicola Pellegrino, it consists of no fewer than three churches, stacked on top of each other like an inverted wedding cake – the facade austere but lightened by a pretty rose window. The interior has been restored to its original Norman state, the stark nave displaying a timbered ceiling. A wander through the adjacent streets gives an impression of the medieval city, not least in the names that echo the town's mercantile and Jewish origins – Via Sinagoga, Via Doge Vecchia and Via Cambio (Street of the Moneychangers). The city centre bursts with activity in the evenings when locals pour into the town's excellent restaurants and wine bars, most of which are concentrated around the port. Among these is Conteinfiore on Via Ognissanti 18 (Tel:0883.508.402; closed Sun & Mon at lunch), serving outstanding fish dishes that change according to the day's catch – try the taglioni alle vongole con carciofi – in a tree-filled patio (heated in winter).
The rail line continues south to MOLFETTA, a working port, unashamedly non-touristy and all the better for it; the waterfront is active with visiting ships and thronged by an evening passeggiata that sweeps down to the docks to watch the sunset.