The capital of Puglia, Bari offers picturesque views, historic monuments, sun-drenched beaches and one of the most beautiful seafronts in the whole of Italy.
With a flight to Bari you can discover a city where an ancient, working-class soul coexists with a young and trendy spirit. You will find historical buildings such as the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, one of the most important sites of worship in Italy, and the Castello Svevo-Normanno, a Romanesque architectural gem. You can admire the majestic skyline on the coast, sprinkled with palazzos built in the late-Liberty style, or get lost among the narrow streets of the old town, perhaps taking a seat at a restaurant to taste some panzerotti (savoury turnovers), fish crudo or Bari’s famous orecchiette pasta with broccoli rape. There is a wide array of things to do and see during a trip to Bari. Here are just a few of them.
BASILICA OF SAINT NICHOLAS
One of the most important sites of worship in Italy, this church is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, who is also a major saint for both the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church. Saint Nicholas of Myra was a bishop known by many as the original figure of Saint Nick, who later became Father Christmas. The basilica’s significance comes from the fact that the interior crypt contains the remains of Saint Nicholas himself, making it a site of pilgrimage for members of both religions. Built in a Romanesque style in 1108, the interior is adorned with ceilings of gilded wood, painted in the 17th century, the Cathedra of Elias sculpture and the oldest ciborium in Puglia. The adjacent Nicolaiano Museum is also well worth a visit, and contains ancient illuminated manuscripts, scrolls and silver artefacts.
The San Nicola district contains the city's old town and stretches from the old port to the new one. It is a medieval town centre that winds around the feet of the Castello Normanno Svevo and within the city walls, featuring countless scenic streets and a timeless atmosphere. It is a working-class neighbourhood where many traditions remain unaltered, such as preparing orecchiette pasta on pastry boards outside the front door of the home. In the evenings, it transforms itself into the centre of Bari's nightlife. It is full of evocative spots and sea views, while Bari Cathedral and the Fortino di Sant’Antonio Abate are also not to be missed.
This castle, which takes its name from the fact that it was constructed on the base of a building built by Roger the Norman in 1131, and rebuilt by Frederick II of Swabia in 1223 after being destroyed in 1156, is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Italy. Its keeps, drawbridge, Gothic gates and Renaissance garden are just a few of the stunning elements that help make this castle an absolute must on a visit to Bari. The interior spaces often host exhibitions and events, while the first floor contains a plaster cast gallery and some fascinating archaeological remains.
Inaugurated in the Fascist era, Bari seafront is considered one of the most beautiful seafronts in the whole of Italy for its unrivalled view of the Adriatic Sea, immense park and countless palazzos built in the late-Liberty style, which all combine to create the unique atmosphere of this special place. The route that takes you from the old port to the new one passes along historic buildings such as the Grande Albergo delle Nazioni, the Kursaal Santa Lucia Theater and the Palazzo della Provincia.
The best time to book a flight to Bari is unquestionably in the spring or autumn, when the weather isn't quite so sweltering. In spring, the first days of May also play host to the city's most important festival, San Nicola, when the streets are full of decorations, market stalls, parades and fireworks. Spring and autumn are also the best times to make some excursions outside the city, to the nearby Castellana Caves, for instance, or to visit some Puglia 'masserie', the famous farms where you can taste the local culinary delights.
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