More travellers are visiting Italy and discovering the wonders of Puglia, the region that comprises ‘the heel of the boot’ of Italy. Trips to Puglia begin in Bari, the seaside city with a castle, major airport, train station, port, and a charming old town. While it’s a great place to start exploring Puglia, Bari has many interesting sights meaning it’s worth exploring for a day or two!
The Old Harbour and Lungomare
Bari has a working port, where all the ferries leave for Greece, Albania and beyond, but you want to be heading to the Old Harbour, where life continues as it has for centuries. Traditional fishing boats land their catches and sell the seafood straight off their boats. See the real Bari by wandering amongst the boats, sampling the produce. This is also the best place to start your tour of Lungomare, the imposing seafront built by Mussolini. In true fascist style, it is one of the grandest seafronts in Italy!
The beaches of Bari start in Lungomare and keep on going! You will find the south coast is dotted with countless coves and bays, all boasting gorgeous beaches, atmospheric seaside town and not forgetting the sparkling blue waters. In Polignano a Mare has crystal blue water, Porto Cavallo is sandy, Cala Porto is famous for its smooth white pebbles, and if you want to spend time with locals, visit Cala Paura. Bari is a place for those who love beaches! If you’re looking for a distinctly Pugliese beach experience, visit the ancient stone towns of Monopoli and Giovinazzo! Laze on the golden sand beaches with a gelato or chilled glass of wine.
Puglia is famous for its cucina povera, food of the poor, which is a cuisine that is simple, yet tasty and will only use seasonal and local ingredients. Originally, this started out of necessity but now Bari finds itself at the forefront of the food movement that is taking off around the world. Street food is popular in Bari too, so head down to the market and tuck into the freshest seafood!
La Città Vecchia (The Old City)
Head to the extraordinary Old City, that largely consists of winding, narrow streets, the perfect way to explore any city. Find all the main medieval monuments here such as the Swabian castle, Cathedral of San Sabino and Basilica of San Nicola. If the hunger kicks in, there are plenty of bars and restaurants here to enjoy some Bari cuisine!
The imposing structure was originally built by the Norman King Ruggero II back in the 12th century and was later rebuilt by Frederick II in 1233. He was responsible for the two Norman towers that are still standing today! Back in the height of Bari’s glory days, Castello Svevo served as a Renaissance residence in the 16th century for Isabella of Aragon and her daughter Bona Sforza. Take a wander through the castle’s enchanting courtyard and small museum today!
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