Regarding “Authentic Italian—Central Coast grown!” June 2): “Bari ... capital of Puglia, Italy, is the country’s largest city after Naples.” I must inform you, dear Kathy Marcks Hardesty, that you have been the victim of a monumental snow job.
Naples, population 1,061,583, is, in fact, by a rough two thirds of a million souls, larger than Bari, population 338,949. But Naples, the largest city in Italy, and Bari second? Good grief! The largest city in Italy is Rome, as is somehow fitting for a capital with a history going back nearly 3,000 years, populated today by 2,687,881 up-to-date, often sophisticated, modern Romans, more than twice the number of Neapolitans. Then comes Milan and its 1,334,171 Milanese, ahead of Naples by almost 300,000. Naples, it seems, will have to settle for third place in the population derby. Following Naples, but still ahead of Bari, are Turin, 945,551; Palermo (let’s have none of the Sicily isn’t Italian nonsense), 694,749; Genoa, 659,754; Bologna, 394,969; and Florence, 392,800. Bari barely edges out Venice, which is inhabited by only 309,041 certified, bona fide Venetians, but is more than put into the shadows by the extraordinary form and culture of the city of the Doges. But then, few cities are not.
Beware, Kathy, not only the Ides of March. Beware also Italians vaunting the wonders and glories of their hometown. They often get carried away.
Incidentally, these figures, accurate to the last number, are for 1996. But little has changed since then.