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Bari, die Hauptstadt Apuliens, Bild: Fabio Dell / shutterstock

Bari – lively capital of Puglia

Bari – you can’t get more contrasting southern Italian flair than here in Puglia . While the small old town, located on a promontory, enchants its visitors, the new town presents itself dynamically with its chessboard-like streets. This is not least thanks to its central, convenient location on the Apulian Adriatic coast, which allows you to travel by cruise ship, low-cost airline, car and train. It is also possible to continue your journey from Bari by ferry to Greece, Montenegro and Croatia .

Tour between old and new

The walk starts in the east of the old town, near the fishing port. Exposed, almost as if on a pontoon, sits the Museo Teatro Margherita – a former theatre that, after extensive renovation as an art museum, invites you to exhibitions of all kinds.

The path leads along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Bari’s boulevard with a large selection of shops and restaurants. This is where the border between the old and new town runs. Soon, on the right-hand side of the road, the Giardino Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a park with tall palm trees and beautiful seating, invites you to stop. From here, various small streets offer access to the maze of alleys of the romantic old town. Clotheslines span the narrow alleys, arched constructions support the walls of the houses – Italy like out of a picture book.
The first destination is the Castello Svevo Normanno, an imposing fortress from the 12th century. The view falls on defiant walls with a square defensive tower. Parts of the fortress are open to visitors. In addition, a museum awaits its visitors. The miniature counterpart to this massive fortress is the Fortino di Sant’Antonio, a comparatively cute-looking complex at the other end of the old town.

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Bari Coast
The coast of Bari, Image: Ba_peuceta / shutterstock

The old town of Bari has countless churches, which invite you to visit them on the way to the two main churches. One of the highlights is a visit to the Basilica of San Nicola. Here is the tomb of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Bari. White on the outside and also in friendly colours on the inside, the ceiling painting is particularly impressive. Another highlight is the Basilica Cattedrale San Sabino. Very simply furnished from the inside, a warm atmosphere spreads through the incidence of sunlight. The crypt with the mummy of Saint Sabinus is worth seeing. The Chiesa di San Giacomo is smaller, but it has a richly decorated altar and unusual majolica floor tiles.

What would an Italian city be without its piazzas and markets?

Very popular is the spacious Piazza del Ferrarese with its numerous cafés and bars that come to life in the evening hours. The central square of the old town is Piazza Mercantile, where a colourful fruit and vegetable market is regularly held. In this square stands the Colonna della Giustizia – a column on which insolvent businessmen were displayed in the Middle Ages. The fish market is located right by the fishing port and offers the best selection in the early morning hours.

It is impossible to imagine the alleys of Bari without the women who make the pasta speciality “orecchiette”, typical of the region, in the open air and offer it for sale.

Art and culture are not neglected in Bari

The Pinacoteca Metropolitana di Bari is not only an extremely remarkable building from the outside. Inside, it houses an exhibition of historical finds from the history of the city of Bari.
The Museo Civico Bari displays an extensive collection of paintings that vividly depict the development of the city and its formative personalities. Friends of top-class opera performances will get their money’s worth at the Teatro Petruzzelli.

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Sightseeing tour by tourist train

Bari tourist train
With the tourist train through Bari, Image: Tupungato / shutterstock

If you don’t have the time or energy to visit the many sights of Bari on foot, you can simply use the services of Trenino della Felicità. The train takes its passengers to the city’s most important sights in 90 minutes.

Beaches and parks

Bari has a well-kept city beach “Pane e pomodoro”. This is located just under two kilometres from the old town and can be reached by taking an attractive walk along the Lungomare Nazario Sauro harbour promenade. If that’s too far for you, you can rent a bike at the rental station near the cruise terminal. The beach consists of fine sand and slopes gently into the sea. Access is free of charge, there are toilets and taps as well as a storage area for valuables. Parasols and sunbeds are not rented, but there are shaded areas in the small park behind the beach. A small bar completes the beach experience.
If you prefer to relax from sightseeing in the countryside, head to Parco 2 Giugno, a recreational park just outside the city center with picnic meadows, small ponds and cool shaded areas under numerous trees.