The University and port city of Bari in Italy is the second largest city after Naples in the south. The Old Town with its superb Basilica of St Nicholas, Swabian Castle and Cathedral of San Sabino is on a peninsula and is flanked by two modern harbours. Ferry destinations from Bari include Kotor in Montenegro, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Patras and Corfu in Greece.
The Murat quarter is where the modern city comes alive, especially at the shopping areas of via Sparano and via Argiro (best known for high fashion and tailoring) and there’s also a beautiful sea promenade. Barivecchia (Old Bari) is made up of interesting streets and passageways immediately to the north of Murat.
One little known fact about Bari is its connection to the slave trade, with Venetian captors selling their Slavic catch, mainly bound for Arab states, at Bari market in the Middle Ages. That was until Bari itself was captured by the Arabs in 847 AD.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral, founded in 1087, is one of the main sights in the city with a grand rose window decorated with monsters and other fantasy images. The Swabian Castle is currently a grand exhibition gallery. The Petruzzelli Theatre hosts opera and ballet after its reconstruction from a major fire in 1991. The 1854 Teatro Comunale Niccolò Piccinni hosts local and international opera, music and dance.
Other Bari must visits include the Russian Church in the Carrassi district, the Provincial Pinacotheca (the most important paintings museum in Puglia) and Orto Botanico dell’Università di Bari (the botanical garden.)
Local cuisine includes baked dough calzoni (onions, anchovies, capers and olives); pasta such as orecchiette (hat-shaped) focaccia alla barese (with tomatoes), fried polenta, plus an excellent variety of seafood and fish cooked in many different ways. The local wines, e.g. Castel del Monte and Primitivo, are also worth a try.
For a day trip, try the port city of Giovinazzo, if only for its wonderful sea walls. It lies about 18 km west of Bari by Molfetta on the Adriatic coast.
Posted : Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 11:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save