Bari travel guide
Bari, the main port city in southern Italy and the capital of the Puglia region, is not a major tourist center. Its main attraction – the Christian shrine – the Basilica of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker attracts crowds of pilgrims. Basilica is a unique place where there are two altars – Catholic and Orthodox. Here for over a thousand years are kept the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker – one of the most important Orthodox saints, and every Thursday the church opens its doors to pilgrims who want to touch the relics and ask for health and peace of mind. On the same day, from 10 to 12 a.m., a special service is held. In addition to the relics, each believer touches the miraculous column, which is enclosed by a special cage. According to legend, during the construction of the temple, there was not enough marble for one of the columns, and one day the column itself sailed on the sea. The basilica is located in the old part of town, a five-minute walk from the port.
The area around Bari is rich in unusual sights, which can be reached by car or train, spending less than an hour.
For example Alberobello, a wonderful town, listed as a cultural heritage protected by UNESCO. It attracts attention with its tiny, almost fairy-tale trulli houses, built of limestone and topped with cone-shaped roofs.
What tours are worth visiting in Bari?
The port city of Bari, though the capital of the Italian region called Puglia, is not rich in sights, but is surrounded by typical southern Italian towns, each boasting its own charm and southern charm.
For example, 150 kilometers away from Bari is gorgeous Lecce with basilicas, palaces and other Baroque buildings of wonderful, gently golden color, as if always illuminated by the pre-sunset sun. For the lush and ornate architecture of the city, Lecce has been nicknamed the city of Baroque or Southern Florence. And its unusual, glowing color, the mansions and churches owe their unusual color to the local limestone rock, of which most of the buildings were built. The main attractions of the city are the Cathedral and the entire ensemble of the Duomo Square, Piazza Sant’Oronto with the ancient Roman amphitheater half-buried under it, numerous churches with magnificent interior decoration, the castle and the gate built by the order of Charles V. Lecce is also famous for its papier-mâché, whose manufacture goes back to the Middle Ages. When visiting the city as a souvenir is worth buying a papier-mache figurine, made in one of the many workshops.
No less splendid, but more refined in architecture than Lecce, the town called Martina Franco also delights with its Baroque architecture and ornate Rococo facades. The most sumptuous building in the city is the Ducal Palace, built in the spirit of luxurious. read completely
What to see in Bari?
The city of Bari is known among tourists not only for its luxurious sandy eco-friendly beaches. The city is famous not only for its luxurious sandy and ecologically clean beaches, but also for its central location in the south of Italy.
Basilica di San Nicola
Largo Abate Elia, 70122 Bari – here at this address you can find a church where pilgrims from all over the world come. The 11th century basilica not only houses the relics of the saint, but also a thorn from Jesus’ crown of thorns and a “miraculous” column, according to local legend, which, when touched, heals people. According to another legend existing here, in this temple, at one time, preached another Great Saint – Peter. It is no wonder that Cesarevitch Nicholas, who later became Tsar Nicholas II, came here in 1892. There is an icon in the church donated by the royal person. Another relic of the church is a sculpture of St. Nicholas, which can be touched during the procession through the city.
Swabian Castle (Castello Svevo).
The castle was erected in 1131, under the patronage of King Roger II of Sicily. A few years later, during the siege of the city, the castle was heavily damaged. Only 78 years later, the castle was rebuilt by Frederick II, turning it into a fortification Since then, this structure has played a huge role in protecting and defending the city, not only from the land but also from the sea. Over time, after the disappearance of … read more
How to have fun?
Tourists who come to Bari, spend a lot of time not only to relax on the beach, which is undoubtedly not bad, but also to shop, because the city has many different shopping centers and freestanding stores. Some tourists come here with one purpose – to wander through the colorful markets and properly shop in modern shopping centers, where you can find literally any product. Pane e Pomodoro is widely known as the most popular beach in the city. It is an ideal place for a family vacation. The beach is equipped with excellent sports facilities and provides its visitors with a wide range of high quality entertainment. During the day it can be very fun and lively. In the evening tourists usually flock closer to the center of the city, where the best cinemas, bars and clubs are located.
Modern cinema “Armenise” is located near the center of the city.
What to buy?
Bari shopping infrastructure is very well developed, sometimes this city is called the economic center of southern Italy. Discounts in stores can always be found, regardless of sale seasons. Prices for clothing of famous Italian brands in Bari are lower than in Rome or Milan, and the choice is not less. The main shopping streets are Corso Camillo Benso Cavour (or Corso Cavour), which goes from the train station to the old town, and Via Sparano da Bari, a pedestrian street completely dedicated to brand stores, one of which, on five floors, belongs to Zara. Going around all the boutiques on these streets could take at least a whole day. But don’t limit your shopping to these streets – on Via Piccinni, for example, there is the H&M store on four floors and in the port area, in the stalls and the market, you can buy inexpensive original souvenirs.
Outside the city, on Strada Santa Caterina, there is a huge multi-brand mall, Septgo commerciale, which offers an incredible selection of clothes and accessories and is where locals come to shop. You can get discounts of up to 70% at one of the outlets lined up on the Bari – Foggia freeway.
Haggling, in the literal sense of the word, as in the market, in Bari stores is not accepted, but to ask if you can make a discount – is appropriate, in some cases the discount can be made up to 25% of the original cost of goods. This applies, first of all, to commercial stores, in the state… read completely
Bari, Italy travel guide: everything you need to know
Bari is the city where the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker rest. Pilgrims from all over the world come to them. There are so many tourists from Russia that it is even called the “Russian city”. In Bari you can also see medieval castles, walls, the old fort. The narrow, winding streets and sandy beaches of the Adriatic Sea (Mare Adriatico) add charm to the city.
If Italy is viewed as a boot, Bari is located on the heel, above the heel, just below the spur. It is the capital of Puglia, the easternmost region of the country. The city is located at an altitude of 0 to 131 m above sea level: Bari was built on a plateau, but as you go deeper into the mainland, the terrain becomes hilly. Seismic activity is low, so there are no earthquakes.
Bari resembles an eagle with wings spread. Its head is on a small peninsula between the old and new port. The first Greek settlement, Bari Vecchia, appeared here. Nowadays the peninsula is a historical center where business life is in full swing.
Districts of Bari
The city consists of 5 municipalities with Roman numbering instead of names:
I. Located along the Adriatic Sea, in the south. It owns most of the city’s coastline, including the “head of the eagle”. It covers San Nicola, Madonnella, Libertà, Japigia, Torre a Mare.
II. It is located in the center of the city, and has no coastline. Picone, Poggiofranco, Carrassi, S. Pasquale, Mungivacca.
III. To the North it borders municipality II, partly facing the Adriatic coast, contiguous with municipality I. In the municipality of Fesca, San Paolo, Villaggio del Lavoratore, Stanic, San Girolamo.
IV. The southernmost and largest area of the city is landlocked. In the north it is mainly bordered by Municipality II, partly affecting II and III. This includes the lands of Carbonara, Ceglie and Loseto.
V. The northernmost point of the city. It has a common border only with the municipality III. Has access to the Adriatic Sea. This includes the districts of Palese and Santo Spirito.
The first settlements on the territory of Bari appeared at the beginning of the Bronze Age. This is evidenced by the finds discovered in the church of St. Peter (chiesa di San Pietro) during excavations. Later it was colonized by the people of Crete and in ancient times was called Barion by the Greeks.
In the 3rd century the city passed to the Romans who connected Barium to the Trojan road (Via Traiana). They built a Castle, a mint, a pantheon for pagan deities. The first mention of Bari dates back to 347 A.D., when Gervase, Bishop of the city, attended the Sardinian Council. When the empire fell, in the 5th century A.D. the right to own the local lands was contested by the Lombards and the Byzantines. The current structure of the old city dates back to this period.
Bari has had more than one boom and bust, changing hands. It has been ruled by Arabs, Byzantines, Spaniards. It was the starting point of the Crusades. In 1098 the Pope convened a congress in the city to discuss relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches after the great schism.
In the 20th century Bari became the provincial capital. Its population soared from 18,000 to 94,000. It is now one of the main Italian cities where migrants from the east are flocking.
In 1943 the Allied forces were heavily shelled. The port was attacked by 105 German planes. One of the shipwrecks contained bombs with mustard gas, a very dangerous gas that eats away at the skin, eyes, and affects the respiratory tract. More than a thousand people died.
The second catastrophe was in April 1945. An American steamship exploded during the loading of the weapons. As a result, 175 people were killed, 142 were missing, and 600 were seriously wounded. The explosion destroyed part of the old city and severely damaged the temples.
Bari has been undergoing deurbanization since 1980. Nevertheless, the number of inhabitants is growing due to migrants from the east. There are now more than 320,000 people, of whom 13,000 are officially registered foreigners. Of them:
- Georgians – 1,437 people;
- Romanians – 1206 people;
- Albanians – 1163 people.
Relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker
The main attraction of Bari are the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker (270-343 AD). He is also known as San Nicola di Bari. The saint was Archbishop of Myra, where he died. His remains were brought to Bari by sailors. Prof. Luigi Martino examined the relics and discovered that the large bones were preserved here, while the smaller ones were in Venice (Venezia).
Presumably, the inhabitants of Bari, in their haste to possess the relics, took only large fragments and did not touch the small ones.
The relics are in the Basilica of St. Nicholas. The temple was specially built to hold his relics between 1087 and 1197. While the church was under construction, the remains were in the monastery of St. Benedict of Nursia (Benedetto da Norcia).
- Address: Largo Abate Elia, 13 (near the sea).
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 7 to 20.30, Tues: 7 to 22.
- Museum opening hours: 10.30 – 18.00.
Bari consists of two parts. The old town, known as Barivecchia, is located in the peninsula area (eagle’s head). Its distinctive feature is the old winding streets. The main attractions are the Cathedral of St. Sabino (Cattedrale di San Sabino), medieval fortresses and castles.
The development of the new town (Murattiano) began after 1820, when the houses were built outside the old walls. The streets here are straight and the squares are perfectly shaped.
- We recommend you to read: the best place to stay in Bari
St. Sabino Cathedral
The cathedral of Bari is unlucky. Although it is the main one, it is in the shadow of the Basilica of St. Nicholas. It was started to be built at the end of the twelfth century on the ruins of a Byzantine temple that had been destroyed by the Sicilians. The church is an important example of the Romanesque Apulian style.
The cathedral is located on Piazza Odegitria. The facade is simple, divided by pilasters into 3 parts. The building is massive, decorated with rose windows above the entrance. Inside it is bright, with columns, staring upwards. In the XVIII century. church was restored, so it has elements of Baroque.
Russian Church of St. Nicholas
In Bari there is another church dedicated to St. Nicholas – Chiesa Russa San Nicola. This is a cozy Orthodox church built in the style of Pskov-Novgorod architecture of the 15th century. It was built for the Russian pilgrims who came to Bari to worship the relics of St. Nicholas. The construction of the temple began in 1911, ended after the First World War. The church is small, cozy and has a garden inside.
The church is located on the territory of Murattiano. Address: Corso Benedetto Croce, 130, Russian Patriarchal Court.
On the edge of the old town there is a medieval fortress surrounded by a moat – Castello normanno-svevo. It was built in 1132 by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily (Ruggero II di Sicilia). After 20 years the castle, along with Bari, was destroyed.
In 1233 the fortress was rebuilt and has been rebuilt many times since. When the fort lost its defensive importance, it was used as a prison and barracks. Now the castle is a museum, where copies of architectural decorations and modern art are exhibited. In its walls are often held cultural programs. The exact address is Piazza Federico II di Svevia 4.
The Teatro Petruzzelli is the fourth largest theater in Italy. It was built in 1903 on the square by the sea, where street artists gave performances. Inside, the institution was decorated with gold, paintings, equipped with heating and electricity. Frank Sinatra, Wanda Osiris, Luciano Pavarotti and other famous people performed here. In 1991 the theater burned down. It took almost 20 years to recover and is now open to the public. Address: Corso Cavour,12.
Bari has quite a few exhibitions devoted to the history and culture of the city. Many are inside palaces, temples, and former monasteries, and so are of interest to sightseers.
The most famous museum of the city is the Archaeological Museum (Museo archeologico di Santa Scolastica). It is located inside the former monastery of Santa Scolastica. Among the exhibits there are many ceramics, bronzes, statues, coins, precious stones, which belong to the period of ancient Puglia. The exhibition is located by the sea, at the address – Piazzale Cristoforo Colombo, 1.
Painting lovers will love the Pinacoteca metropolitana di Bari “Corrado Giaquinto”. The art gallery is located on the 4th floor of the historic Palazzo della Provincia. It presents the paintings of artists from Venice, Apulia, Naples in the XV-XX centuries. The tours are accessible and interesting. Address: Lungomare Nazario Sauro 27.
Museum of the Military Sanctuary
Museo del Sacrario militare is a unique place. Here rest the remains of 75,000 soldiers who died on foreign soil during the two World Wars and the colonial battles of Italy. Their bodies were returned to their homeland after the disposal of military cemeteries and placed in the mezzanine of the monastery. In the center of the courtyard is a marble altar for outdoor Mass. Inside the building is a display of weapons. Around the area is a park with military equipment. Address: Via G. Gentile, 31.
- Mediterranean Citadel of Science (Cittadella mediterranea della scienza). The aim of the exhibition is to popularize physics, mathematics and natural sciences. For this purpose it organizes exhibitions, conferences and cultural events. Address: Viale Biagio Accolti Gil, 2.
- African Ethnographic Museum (Museo etnografico africano). Located in the Capuchin monastery, it features exhibits collected by the missionaries. Among them are coins, ivory fans, instruments and masks from Mozambique and lyres from Ethiopia. The address is Via Bellomo, 94.
- The Museum of St. Nicholas (Museo nicolaiano). There are exhibits related to the Basilica of St. Nicholas – parchments, manuscripts, chalices, silverware and paintings. The museum is located in the historic part of the city, near the arch on the waterfront, close to the Church of St. Nicholas. Address: Largo Papa Urbano, II.
The city is characterized by a Mediterranean climate. Hot summers are softened by breezes that blow from the Adriatic Sea. Winters are mild, mostly rainy. Nevertheless, snowfalls are possible, influenced by cold currents from the northeastern Balkans.
The maximum summer temperatures were recorded in 2007. The thermometer reached 45.6 ° C. The coldest weather was in 1993. The temperature then fell to -5.6°C.
Bari is warm even in winter:
- January: 5…12°C;
- February: 5…12,6°C;
- March: 6…14,4°C;
- April: 8…17,7°C;
- May: 13…22,2°C;
- June: 16…25,8°C;
- July: 19…28,4°C;
- August: 19…28,3°C; August: 19…28,3°C;
- September: 16,3 … 25,4°C; October: 12,6 ..;
- October: 12,6 … 21°C;
- November: 8,2 … 16,5°C; November: 8,2 … 16,5°C;
- December: 11 … 14°C;
Bari, though located by the sea, is not perceived as a resort. Nevertheless, there are several good beaches and you can swim in the sea from mid-April to the end of October.
The beach of St. Francis of Reni
Tourists call the beach of St. Francis of Reni (Lido San Francesco alla Rena) one of the best in the city. The coast is clean, sandy, the bottom goes down gradually. Visitors are provided with wide sun loungers and umbrellas, there are warm showers, delicious cuisine. In the mornings the staff exercises to music. The beach is located on Via Giuseppe Verdi 59/61, near the “head of the eagle” on the north side.
Bread and tomato
The ridiculously named Pane e Pomodoro Beach is located on Lungomare Armando Perotti, in the city limits. It’s a 10 minutes walk from the center. The sea is shallow and the beach is sandy. The beach is well organized. There are cafes, toilets, showers, locker rooms and storage areas. You can rent a deck chair. From the coast there are beautiful views not only of the sea but also of the city.
Feast of St. Nicholas
The main event of the year is celebrated from May 7 to 9. By this date pilgrims from Russia and other Orthodox countries flock here. On the first day of the holiday is a solemn procession during which the statue of the saint is carried to the old port of Molo san Nicola. Then it is carried by boats to the sea.
The next day, after the Eucharist in Piazza del Ferrarese, the relics of the saint are carried through the town. The procession ends in the crypt of the basilica. The ritual events are accompanied by performances by artists who create the appropriate atmosphere.
On the last day of the festival the statue of St. Nicholas after the mass in Piazza del Ferrarese returns to the basilica.
It is possible to see the sights of Bari in 1-2 days. If you have time, go to nearby cities. Attractions that I advise you to visit first:
- Castellana-Grotte caves (Le grotte di Castellana);
- Castel del Monte (Castel del Monte);
- The underground temples of Mottola, Massafra and Castellaneta;
- the trullas in Alberobello.
The town is about 40 km south-east of Bari. There are limestone caves, formed millions of years ago.
The natural entrance to the grotto is a huge chasm 60 m deep, known as the “Grave” (Grave). Tourist route lies through the caves, decorated with crystals, illuminated by a dim light, which creates the appearance of bizarre figures. The depth of the tunnels underground – 70 m, the length of not less than 3 km. They are located at 33 m above the sea level.
After visiting the caves you can walk around the city. The streets of Castellana Grotte are narrow, the sidewalk is paved with stone, orange trees grow. There is a dinosaur park for children. There are also many temples, the most famous being the church of Madonna della Vetrana (Santuario Madonna della Vetrana).
If you want to see houses that fall apart when you take out the cornerstone, go to Alberobello. The town is 55 km from Bari, in a southeasterly direction. Trulls, as the local houses are called, resemble dwarf dwellings. They have cone-shaped roofs, thick stone walls that provide coolness in the summer and keep warm in the heat.
Such constructions were common in the 15th century. At that time there was a law when new settlements had to pay tribute to the Kingdom of Venice. The local authorities then allowed the construction of dwellings that could be quickly dismantled if checked from above.
The Alberobello Trulls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and locals take full advantage of their popularity. Inside the houses, they set up hotels, museums, and souvenir stores. It is a very profitable occupation, as thousands of tourists come to see the sight.
If you want to see one of the most famous medieval castles go to Andria (50 km west of Bari). Near the town you’ll find the Castel del Monte, which dates back to the 13th century. Unlike other castles there are no moat, ramparts, and drawbridges. The entrance is like a portal of a gothic temple.
The castle was presumably built as a hunting lodge for the emperor. Some scholars refute this theory because of too rich decoration.
There is an “astronomical hypothesis”. The design of the building resembles a calendar and a clock. On the top floor, the sunlight in each room is twice a day. When the winter and summer solstice begins, it disperses evenly over all the rooms on the first floor.
Motolla, Massafra and Castellaneta
The towns are arranged in a triangle. Motolla is 60 km, Massafra 70 km and Castellaneta 65 km south of Barry.
They are interesting with their rock temples hidden in caves. Here in the VIII-X centuries the icon painting monks who were forbidden to paint icons, fled. The most beautiful church is situated in Mottola, devoted to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker – San Nicola di Mottola.
How to reach
Bari is about 430 km south east of Rome and 263 km east of Naples. There are trains and buses. There is an airport and a seaport.
- See travel info: How to get from Rome to Bari
The Karol Wojtyla International Airport in Bari (Aeroport) is the largest airport in Europe. The Karol Wojtyła International Airport (Aeroporto Karol Wojtyła) is located 9 km from the center of Bari. Flights from Moscow arrive by plane. Direct flights from May to October. The journey by air takes 3,5 hrs. At other times of the year, one must travel via Rome. The flight takes an hour and 3 hours with a change.
From the airport to the center you can reach in half an hour:
- Municipal bus no. 16, price 1€.
- By Autoservizi Tempesta shuttle, price 4,5 €.
- By train. It takes 11 minutes to get to the main station. Trains go every 30 min. The ticket costs 5 €.
Travelling from Rome takes 4 to 5,5 hours. Trains leave from Roma Termini station and arrive at the central station (Bari Centrale). It is located on Piazza Aldo Moro 50, not far from the old city.
In addition to Rome, you can arrive here from Milan, Bologna, Lecce, Parma, Taranto. From Naples, you can not get directly, only with connections in Caserta. The journey takes from 4 to 5 hours.
The way from Rome takes 4-6 hours. Get off at the Rome Tiburtina Bus station. Your destination is in Via Capruzzi near the train station.
In Naples, take bus line 1571 at Naples station. The journey will take 3 hours. In Bari, the bus stops near the main station.
From Rome, take the A1/E45. The way will take more than 4.6 hours, there are toll roads.
From Naples take the A16/E842 and the A14. There are toll roads on the route. It will take 3 hours to get there.
The port of Bari is one of the largest in Italy. Ships from Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, and Greece come here.