We found ourselves in Bari, simply because it was the port from which we could sail across to Croatia. While we were there though, we enjoyed our time in this southern Italian city. Here are some of our recommendations:
Visit Santa in the Old Town.
After wandering the quaint streets of the old town of Bari, take a moment to visit Santa, or more accurately visit the tomb of Saint Nicholas (yes, sorry kids, Santa died a long time ago!). Now one of the most popular attractions of Bari, the real “Santa” rests in a crypt under Basilica di Nicola. Legend has it, that the bodily fluids the corpse still emits have a miracle effect (it can also be bought in the souvenir shop outside the church, make of that as you please!).
As the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, children, merchants, thieves, wolfs, Russia and pawnbrokers, St. Nicholas was a popular guy. So popular in fact, that the Italians felt obliged to steal (or save as they perceived it) his bones from their original burial ground in Turkey. After the Greek monks guarding the tomb refused to sell them the bones, the Italians stole them and fled back to Bari, where the bones now reside.
2. See the Castle.
Castello Svevo was originally built around 1132 by Norman King Roger II. It has under gone many transformations over the years from being destroyed in battle and rebuilt to being used as a prison and barracks. Today we can explore the castle which is surrounded by a moat on all sides, except the northern sections which border the sea.
Whilst not the most outstanding castle it does also hold many different exhibitions that may be of interest, so worth a check what is on if you are in Bari.
3. Have a €1 Beer with the local fishermen.
Probably one of my favourite Bari moments was joining the local fisherman after the morning fish markets. Accompanied by some reggae music, at a bar at the end of the market, you can sit with the locals and drink cheap beer while enjoying the views of the fishing boats and the coast.
4. Relax on the Beach.
If you want a day to relax and unwind then Bari has beaches where you can do just that. With blue seas, golden sand and the odd beach bar, it’s easy to while away the day at the picturesque beach.
5. Take a trip to Giovinazzo.
Just half an hour on the train from Bari and just a few euros, Giovinazzo is another fishing town in the Puglia region of Italy. Not as large or as popular as Bari, it is a lovely town to visit for some peace and tranquillity away from the city. Wander along the beautiful coastal walls, ponder through the old town or sit and watch the world go by, by the sea.
6. Have a drink (or two) in La Ciclatera.
Having previously seen this gem of a bar when it was closed and thought that it looked intriguing, we returned later to investigate. We were not disappointed. It is a small bar with friendly staff and local clientele. They have a large range of drinks and snacks which you can enjoy in one of the bars snug alcoves.
7. Take a Ferry.
From Bari you can continue your adventure across the Adriatic, whether it be to Croatia (as we did), Albania or Greece. So once you tire of potting around the old town or relaxing on the each there’s plenty of onward destinations within easy reach.