Whether you’re interested in soccer, seafood, beaches, shopping, or castles and architecture, it’s worth adding a stop in the small city of Bari (pop. < 400,000) to your Puglia itinerary. Founded by the Greeks, and then under Roman rule starting in the 3rd century BC, the city has lots to offer. So hold on to your bag and keep your wits about you. See below for our recommendations on what to see and do in Bari.
Wander around the Old Town, and visit the Basilica of San Nicolas, with the tomb of the original St. Nicholas.
Don’t miss the city’s Norman castle, Svevo, or its Romanesque Cathedral, St. Sabinus.
Shop in high-end boutiques along the Via Sparano (photo above) or – if you can – get tickets to a football (soccer) match and watch Bari’s Serie A team in the San Nicola Stadium.
Bari’s Teatro Petruzzelli was one of the top opera houses in Italy until it was fire-bombed in 1991, and has been under construction ever since – but is allegedly reopening before 2010.
Eat gelato and people-watch along the the seaside promenade, or lungo mare on the edge of town.
Try the local food: riso, patate e cozze (rice, potatoes, and mussels).
Relax on the beaches at Torre Canne (photo above), about an hour south of the city.
Visit the town of Polignano a Mare, about 30 minutes south of the city, and eat in its restaurant-in-a-grotto. Note: the restaurant gets a lot of publicity because of its unique feature, but in general it has mixed reviews: most agree that it’s expensive with small portions, and that you pay for the ambiance.
Go see the Castel del Monte (photo below) about 40 km west of the city.
Visit the cone-shaped Trulli dwellings in the town of Alberobello.
Photo of Castel del Monte from www.istockphoto.com
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