If you are thinking of taking a trip to Apulia, I believe that Bari, its capital, is a must see!
I am not saying this just because it is my hometown, but because you will be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.
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How to get there
In Bari (and in Apulia) you can easily get there by plane, train or bus.
1. If you arrive by plane at the Karol Vojtyla Bari-Palese Airport , you have three options to get to the city center:
- In my opinion, the most convenient and cheap is by the train / metro : the ticket costs € 5,00 and you will be in about 20 minutes at the Central station, an excellent starting point for your tour in the Apulian capital ;
- There is also the shuttle bus service offered by the Tempesta Autoservizi company, whose ticket costs € 4.00. The duration of the journey is about half an hour and it will take you to the central station of Bari;
- Last alternative, rent a car directly at the airport or get to the center by taxi (surely this would not be the cheapest choice if your budget is limited and your plans are only a fleeting visit of the city.
At this link you will find more detailed information.
2. Arriving by train at Bari Central Station (with the railway company Trenitalia or Italo Trains ), you will be in the heart of the city. From here you can comfortably start your walking tour or reach one of the many surrounding accommodations .
The must-see places
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Arriving at the Central Station, I would recommend that you start by walking down Bari’s busiest shopping street, Via Sparàno , where you can have a bite to eat at one of the typical and delicious cafeterias.
From here, you can proceed towards the famous and beautiful Promenade, crossing Piazza Umberto I and skirting the elegant building of the Athenaeum, seat of the University of Bari (how about a first stop for some photos?)
Then, you will have arrived in Corso Vittorio Emanuele ! From here, start getting lost in the authentic “Bari Vecchia”, the Old City, full of suggestive views, where you will get to know the true essence of the city. You can enter the old town from one of the streets overlooking the Corso, or you could head towards Piazza del Ferrarese , cross it, and head towards Piazza Mercantile, where you can admire the elegant Palazzo del Sedile and its Clock Tower , which served to mark the day of the merchants.
The Palace, on the other hand, owes its name to the University sessions that once took place inside it, before being used as: loggia of the merchants, seat of the municipal government and the first public theater in the city.
Exploring the alleys paved with the typical “chianche“, Apulian limestone slabs, you can see groups of elderly ladies busy with the preparation of fresh pasta typical of my region, the Orecchiette.You can eat typical food like “panzerotti” and “pettole” hot, freshly fried; or just let the scents and sounds guide you until you get to the next stop on your tour, St. Nicholas Basilica.
Construction dating back to the 11th century, it is home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a Christian-Orthodox saint, stolen from Myra by sixty-two Barese sailors. Every year this story is relived through a costume event in honor of the feast of the patron saint of the city of Bari.
Curiosity : did you know that Saint Nicholas (Nicholaus) is the Saint who inspired Santa Claus, the modern Coca-cola Santa Claus ?
Once you have finished visiting the Pontifical church, in Romanesque-Apulian style, I recommend that you return to the seafront through the “ Wall ” from which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the port and the Margherita Theater Museum .
Having reached Piazza del Ferrarese again, continue along the waterfront to the typical “El Chiringuito ”where you can live the experience of a true Bari inhabitant: cool off with a beer Peroni “frozen” (for only € 1.00), and delight yourself with a crunchy slice of focaccia, which you can buy from the “Focacciaro”.
Last stop of the Tour: Petruzzelli Theater , the largest theater in Bari and fourth largest in Italy!
It is possible to visit the theater with guided tours, at a cost of € 5.00 for adults, € 1.00 for students, children and people with disabilities, and free for carers (find all the detailed information at this link ) .
Some tips for you ...
- Pay attention to pickpockets: in the last ten years Bari has become a rather safe and clean city … but it’s better to take some precautions! Eyes open!
- If you plan to visit the city during the summer season: don’t forget to wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses … and always have a bottle of water with you 😉 the temperatures can be really hot!
- On your return: the Bari Central station can sometimes be very chaotic so make sure you arrive with sufficient margin compared to the time of your train. You don’t want to miss it while queuing for your ticket, do you?