The striking scenography of the sea that greets the visitor to Trani has an irresistible appeal. An unforgettable sequence of images unfold before the eyes as you travel through the area of the city's port and coast. The impact of the buildings on the panorama of the sea recalls, first of all, the importance of the institutions that in this scenography were able to represent themselves with previously unknown force, suddenly disengaging themselves from the fabric of the city to project themselves onto a universal consciousness: the Church, the State, the Law. Trani played an eminent role in the regional chess game of power and privilege starting in the Swabian era, in which Federico II made Trani his maritime advance post (the mighty castle on the sea is evidence of this), until the 1400's, a century of absolute splendour in which Trani was the most important maritime and mercantile centre on the lower Adriatic (it is the city that wrote the Maritime Statutes and was long supported by the city of Venice to which it was even “pledged“ at the end of the century). It then became, at the end of the 1500's, the seat of the Regia Udienza (Royal Juridical Seat) and, since then (and still today) it is the “juridical city” par excellence.
This is the sea of monuments, the sea of power. But taking a look today at Trani's port, glancing from left to right, two less monumental (but equally important for defining the more complex contemporary consciousness that make both tourists and residents love this city) realities stand out: the string of beautiful fishing boats to the left, with intense colours and evocative names, and the expanse of pleasure crafts to the right, a sign of a "lived" sea, of a functional and well-equipped harbour, of a city that still looks to the sea even without the burden of having to affirm and defend its supremacy: the string of beautiful fishing boats to the left, with intense colours and evocative names, and the xpanse of pleasure crafts to the right, a sign of a “lived” sea, of a functional and well-equipped harbour, of a city that still looks to the sea even without the burden of having to affirm and defend its supremacy. The Castle, Cathedral, Courthouse and also the early 1900's city park which recalls the civic and middle class characteristics that make up the cultural roots of the modern city, are all more clearly visible from the sea than from the land, as if the city still awaited visitors from the sea, arriving on boats or ships (and it is often true: many tourists in small or large yachts dock here to stock up on supplies or fuel, perhaps on their way to the Greek Islands, and instead of one day, they stay two or three and then, perhaps, decide to rent a house on the harbour . . .)
Trani, festive and joyous city par excellence, holds all of its festivals on the harbour. Religious festivals, yes, but also cheerful, swarms of people out for a stroll on summer evenings, band concerts in the lighted sound-box in Piazza Quercia, open-air concerts or shows – all against the backdrop of the sea outlined by the elegant stone belt of the parapets along the harbour and the docks. Street stalls, restaurants, coffee bars, merry-go-rounds facing the harbour, and the reflection of the lights that shimmer pearly on the smooth blocks of stones that pave the streets. The odour of fresh fish as the fishing boats come in and display their catch for the fast and very careful regular customers, to the surprise of the many tourists who are walking, again or for the first time, towards the theatrical Piazza della Cattedrale . . .
Arriving from the harbour, and from the side of the dock, the Cathedral offers its most beautiful facade, the retroabsidal face, which is closest to the sea spray and where its disproportional height seems the most impressive. All wh