Effortlessly seducing and atmospheric; modern yet traditional; an enchanting sea-side town, spreading over a valley and overlooking, the Adriatic Sea; a city that vibrates with the energy of its thousands of students and the Mediterranean temperament of its residents. The locals love their traditions; they keep their unique dialect alive; they boast about their special culinary identity and they share the joy of life with open barbeques everyday all around the quarters of the Old Town and the port.
The capital of the captivating region of Apulia, on the north-eastern part of Italy and the second most important economic, trading and cultural centre of the Italian South, after Naples, Bari is a living, breathing city and port with a long and rich history. A large nautical and trading power of the Mediterranean, the city has known days of glory and decline in the shadow of powerful empires and mighty rulers. Home to the Illyrians for centuries; a Greek colony; a large trading port of the roman empire on the via Traiana, a strong administrative centre of the Byzantine era; the loot of the Arab conquerors, the city has gathered great glory and strength on the hands of Normans, Aragons and Bourbons before being included in the kingdom of Italy at the end of the 19th century.
The city’s architectural heritage still preserves traces of its past, captivating history. Built on a peninsular at the north side of the city of Bari and surrounded by the medieval walls of Via Venezia, the stunning Old Town (Barivecchia or Old Bari) is an atmospheric labyrinth made of narrow, uneven streets with picturesque old houses and hanging washings, but also 40 churches, and important historical monuments; the Basilica di San Nicola (11th – 13th century), a fine example of roman architecture and a sacred pilgrimage; the impressive Cathedral of Saint Sabinus of Canosa (San Sabino); the imposing Castell Svevo, the Norman- Hohenstaufen Castle (13th century), which is today, the centre of Bari’s active nightlife; the historic Piazza Mercantile with the Palazzo dei Nobili (Palace of the Nobles) and Piazza Ferrasese, the centre of Bari’s political and economic life in medieval times.
The heart of modern Bari beats at the city’s south section, the modern Murat quarter. Erected in the 19th century by Joachim Murat, King of Naples, it is a grid-shaped area with vertical and horizontal streets and high-streets, majestic palazzi, elaborate art nouveau buildings and unique cultural centres. Don’t forget to stop by the magnificent Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari, the most important gallery in Apulia with masterpieces by Veronese, Tintoretto and Bellini. Visit the impressive Teatro Petruzzeli (1903), the largest theatre in Europe. Enter the gates of Palazzo dell’ Acquedotto built in 1932 and admire the sublime water-theme decor.
All roads lead to the romantic Lungomare, the largest waterfront promenade in Bari overlooking the grand blue of the Adriatic Sea. This is where the Baresi love to stroll. They are so proud of their town that they say, “if Paris had the sea it would be a little Bari”.