Bari is the largest and most important city of Apulia and stands on the Adriatic coast. It's mostly famous for being one of the exit doors of Italy, where travellers leave on ferries for neighboring countries. The city authorities, however, have been trying to raise its tourism profile and awareness of Bari's old town, which has retained its ancient Medieval plan and contains many historic buildings and sites. The old town was the heart of pre-Roman and Roman Bari and it is now possible to find several hip bars and restaurants open "from dusk til dawn" in this once dark and unsafe zone.
There are approximately 40 cheap flights into Bari (BRI) from different European airports. Taxi to downtown costs €25-30, but there are buses connecting the airport to central Bari and the train station.
Check www.trenitalia.com for time tables and prices.
Bari is the destination for ferries incoming from the Greek port of Patra and Igoumenitsa. If you are traveling on a Eurorail during the low season, the cost is €16, during the mid season it's €31. A normal ticket to Igoumenitsa is about €29 on the deck and in low - season. There are also ships to Bar and Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia) and to Durrës (Albania). Ferry operators are either Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Azzurraline or Jadrolinija. An up-to-date site with international ferry schedules is here.
There are many public buses. A ticket costs 1€ (1,50€ if bought on board).
The ancient part of the city, called Bari Vecchia by locals, literally Old Bari, is a beautiful mediaeval neighborhood you should not miss. Take a stroll and get lost in the maze of Bari Vecchia and try not to miss the romanic Basilica of Saint Nicholas with its gold ceiling, its crypt and the magnificent cathedra of Bishop Elias. In the same square, also the Palazzo del Catapano and the Church of Saint Gregory are worth a visit. Even older (but later refurbished in baroque style) and equally interesting is the romanic Cathedral of Saint Sabino. Take a walk along the waterfront, on the top of the old city wallsand pass by the Fortino of Saint Antony, an old fort recently turned into a modern art gallery, and the former Monastery of Saint Scolastica (currently part of the University). The vast majority of the churches in Bari Vecchia are unfortunately closed to tourists. They are open on selected festivities, including Good Friday and the Solemnity of All Saints.
A a small town 20 minutes out of Bari named Adelfia is worth a visit on patron's day. The patron saint of one of its quarters, Montrone, is Saint Trifone. Nov 9 is the start of a three day celebration. In the early evening of Nov 9, a giant beautiful balloon is released which signifies the start of the festival. On the 10th, the statue of San Trifone is brought out of the church and paraded around the town. Bands from all over Italy come and perform on the outdoor stage. Fireworks are displayed throughout the evening to the early morning. The different men's club compete on which club can have the biggest, loudest and spectacular display. Vendors surround the town with goods, food and gifts.
The Saint of the city is Saint Nicholas and is celebrated by the Catholic Church on December 6. In Bari, several masses gather early in the morning (as early as 4am) on December 6. A huge crowd and lots of fast food stands fill the old town through the night. However, the city's main celebration of Saint Nicholas takes place from May 6 to May 8 with historical reconstructions, popular music and a two-day fireworks contest. Pilgrims come from all over the world.
Pottery, bags, shoes, interesting (and underpriced) red wines, orecchiette hand made pasta (buy from Bari Vecchia), Taralli, FOCACCIA
Cartoleria Favia Piazza Umberto I n2 +390805235941 wwwcartoleriafavia.it--> Fashion stationery (Mont Blanc, Parker, Aurora), bags, train/aero/car models.
Most restaurants and bars are located in the eastern part of central Bari, around the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Cavour.
Bari suffers from not having a good selection of cheap accommodations. A few more affordable hostels in the area would allow more visitors to stay and enjoy this attractive city. Regardless, the budget options available all seem clean and modern if not a little overpriced comparedto the rest of Italy.
If you are in Bari and you are looking for some cheap place to sleep (less than €25/night/person) it can be quite a problem.
Hotel Boston (Via Piccinni, 155). One block from Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, and ten minutes walk to Old Town. Rooms are spacious but fairly basic. Generous breakfast. There is a small supermarket across the street. €90 for a double.
Bari Vecchia is a beautiful neighborhood but because of the narrow, crowded streets and the presence of tourists, it is the preferred place for local pickpocketers.
Nice towns to discover around Bari are Matera, Gravina, Martina Franca and Alberobello. Trani (with a truly impressive Cathedral), Molfetta, Giovinazzo and Polignano a Mare are closer to Bari and also worth a visit. There are many direct trains a day. Ticket to Matera or Alberobello is about €4 in one direction.