Benvenuti in Puglia - welcome to Puglia
Bari is the main point of entry for many arriving in Puglia - by air, ferry or train.
While it may not be most visitors' ultimate destination, Bari is becoming a popular base for those on a shorter city-break or using public transport to get around the region.
Bari Vecchia - a knot of narrow streets and alleyways - is the highlight of a trip to our regional capital. Vibrant but not yet overly commercial. The Baresi podcast team members rave about the culture and nightlife on offer, telling us that their city is “buzzing”.
There may be sparking, expensively refurbished apartments with amazing terraces overlooking the Adriatic but in the old town you can still see the way that longtime residents of the old town have always lived.
Front doors open into the cool shadow of narrow alleyways. The sound of food being prepared and the chattering of families dining together echoes all around. Laundry hangs from balconies, drying in the lazy heat of the afternoon.
Everyday life as it has been, and still is, continues all around the old town.
The Castello Svevo stands on the edge of the old town, near the port and the basilica. A massive 13th century walled fortress it now houses a museum.
The Murat district south of the old town was built by Joachim-Napoléon Murat, King of Naples from 1808 - 1815 by virtue of being Napoleon's brother-in-law, in an attempt to improve conditions. Laid out on a practical grid system its an early example of modern town planning.
The Basilica San Nicola houses the relics of the city's patron saint. It was here in the 11th century that Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade.
Visitors from far and wide, many Russian - a statue gifted by Russia in 2003 watches over the square within which the church sits - still flock to the crypt where his mass is celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox Christians alike, reinforcing Bari's importance as a destination of religious pilgrimage.
Street food is becoming ever more present, and the highlight of the Bari calendar is the festa di San Nicola held in May to commemorate the arrival of the relics of the city's patron saint (his saint day on 6 December is also celebrated locally).
Throughout history Bari's old port, sitting on the Molo San Nicola, has been an important fishery. It's not without its dark past. In Medieval times it was an important trading post for “white gold”. Slaves. Mainly Slavic, sold for service in North Africa.
These days the seafood market trades the daily catch; local fishermen sell raw seafood, Bari's speciality.
As with the rest of our region good food is easy to find. Don't obsess about finding the Instagram perfect meal. Follow your nose ... and the locals.
Bari Vecchia | packed full of gems where eating is a pleasure.
Street food | outside the walls of the old town street food is becoming ever popular | the panzerotti* are exceptional | try some focaccia, salumi, cheese, sgagliozze, and home made gelato | €
Porto Vecchio | Molo San Nicola | enjoy a freshly caught raw seafood lunch served up by the fisherman returning to port | we recommend freshly opened ricci (sea urchin) served with a hunk of bread and a wedge of lemon with a cold beer | mix from the catch of the day; sliced octopus, calamari, urchins, prawns and the pinkest shrimp, plump oysters and juicy mussels | €
El Chiringuito | Porto Vecchio, Molo S. Nicola | an absolute must for a panzerotto and Peroni | a no-frills hang-out from sunrise to sunset and beyond where young Baresi congregate to the sounds of reggae and lapping waves | €
Tiramisù | for a twist on the classic recipe try La Ciclatera Sotto il Mare | €-€€
* Panzerotti are Bari's other specialty; fried dough filled with tomato and mozzarella
Celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass with Pope Francis at ST. Peter's Basilica after enjoying a semi-private 2 - 3 hour tour (max 10 people) of the Vatican Museums including the Raphael Rooms and The Sistine Chapel ending with a privileged entrance to St.Peter's Basilica.