Bari, Italy, is the capital city of Puglia. It is also the hub for ferry and cruise ships departing the port to other parts of the Mediterranean.
Bari is more than just a capital city and transport hub. Bari is also a hidden gem with stunning treasures such as top-notch cuisine and historic castles.
It is much easier to get to Bari than you might imagine. Bari’s International Airport can be reached by air, but you may prefer to travel by high-speed train if you are already in Italy. You can travel from Rome to Bari Centrale in approximately four hours. The train station in Bari, which is just a short walk from the historical center, makes it an ideal way to get there. You can also read our post to learn how to travel to Italy by train.
Are you heading to Bari? These are seven things that you don’t want to miss when you go to Bari.
1. Castello Svevo
Frederick II rebuilt this impressive structure in 1233 after it was originally constructed by Norman King Ruggero II during the 12th century. Two of the original Norman towers were added by Frederick II, which are still visible today. Castello Svevo was a Renaissance residence built for Isabella of Aragon in the 16th century. It was also used by Bona Sforza, Isabella’s daughter, and became a place for writers, artists, and other dignitaries. Today, you can still visit the castle’s charming inner courtyard, massive staircase, and a small museum.
2. Cathedral of San Sabino
The Cathedral of San Sabino, while less well-known as Basilica di San Nicola is Bari’s main church. It was originally built in Byzantine style in 11th century. In 1156 it was destroyed and rebuilt in 1170. The Cathedral of San Sabino’s Romanesque style makes it one the most beautiful examples of Puglia’s period architecture.
The church’s name was given to Bishop San Sabino in his honor. His relics can still be found in the crypt today. Take a look at the façade: There are fascinating decorations featuring grotesque monsters, imaginary creatures, and a beautiful rose window.
3. Basilica di San Nicola
This stunning white-limestone church was built in 1089 to store the stolen relics from St. Nicholas of Myra. The crypt still houses the remains of St. Nicholas the patron saint of sailors and travelers, making it a popular destination for pilgrims. If you visit Bari in the first week of May, you are in for a treat. Bari celebrates St. Nicholas with processes, fireworks, and other celebrations. Many of these events take place around the basilica.
4. Bari Vecchia
Bari’s “old town”, home to many of the city’s most famous attractions, such as Basilica San Nicola or the Cathedral, is a must-see! Bari Vecchia feels like an old-fashioned town with its narrow and winding streets. You might even see women making orecchiette right in front of you, just like their grandmothers and mothers before them. (Don’t believe our word? Check out the video below! ).
Piazza del Ferrarese is a popular spot with bars and cafes. Piazza Mercantile was once the center of politics in the old town. This is the ideal spot to take a walk in the morning or do what the Barese do and enjoy an evening passeggiata there.
5. Borgo Murattiano
Bari Vecchia is nostalgic, but Murattiano’s urban design, which features grid-like streets and was built in the 19th century, takes you back to a different time. This area, which was commissioned by Murat, the king of Naples, is divided from Bari Vecchia by the elegant Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It’s an architectural delight. It’s also home to bustling shops! ).
The Teatro Petruzzelli opened in 1903. It is the fourth-largest theater of its kind in Italy. And don’t miss Fizzarotti Palace, an eclectic building in a neo-Gothic Venetian style, commissioned by banker Emmanuel Fizzarotti in the late 19th century.
6. Traditional cuisine
Puglia is home to some of the best food in Italy. Just look at our top ten favorite dishes from Puglia. You can also enjoy some of the finest food in Bari. Our top pick? Burrata. This delicious delicacy is filled with cream and mozzarella curds. Puglia is the best place to try this delicacy, as it tastes its best fresh.
Orecchiete with cima di Rape (orecchiete with brocolli-rabe) is another local dish worth looking out. It’s simple but packed with flavor. Tiella is a baked dish that’s made with rice, potatoes, and mussels.
There’s no better way than dancing to end an evening after all the food! Pizzica, a traditional folk dance from Salento that expresses love and passion in a relationship, is known as the Pizzica.