Visit Lecce: discover the baroque style and more

What is Bari Italy known for?


What is Bari Italy known for?

A day in Bari to discover the beauty of a city with many faces

Bari, the capital city of the Apulia Region with over 300 thousand inhabitants, has its truest heart in the ancient city, known as Bari Vecchia: a labyrinth of winding alleys, white Romanesque churches and the sound of the sea that surrounds it like the fortification walls.

Then there is the nineteenth-century city with the "murattiano" district, a system of straight streets that intersect with each other in checkerboard, with the shopping streets and the promenade: with its 15 km is the longest promenade in Italy and Europe! On the waters of the Adriatic Sea are reflected the lights of the city, the most modern buildings, the lively fish market ("nderr la lanz" dialectal name that indicates the practice of throwing the fish caught out of the boat) and a theater suspended on the sea.


The old port of Bari and the fish market
The old port of Bari and the fish market


Our itinerary to discover Bari starts from Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the road that divides the modern city from the ancient one. In addition to the sea, the backdrop of this road is the rosy fa├žade of the Teatro Margherita with its dome and two towers.

Just a curiosity: the theater was built in 1914 on the water in the area of the old port, with the disappointment of fishermen, to circumvent the agreement signed between the City of Bari and the Petruzzelli family, owners of the other large theater of the city, which prohibited the construction of other theatres in the city.


The Teatro Margherita
The Teatro Margherita


Access point to the historic center of Bari, today as in the past, is Piazza Ferrarese that housed the Porta di Mare - or Porta di Lecce - one of the two entrances to the ancient city.

The door was opened in 1612 to facilitate the entry of goods from the port in front, and which were sold in the nearby Piazza Mercantile, since medieval times the main place of commercial traffic citizens.

In Piazza Ferrarese there is the Vallisa Church (XI century) and a part of the ancient Via Traiana (built by the Romans in the second century A.D.).

From this point of the city begins the panoramic walk on Via Venezia also called the 'Muraglia': 400 meters of fortification, with the Fort of Sant'Antonio, are what remains of the original city walls that in the past appeared overlooking the sea and that totally delimited the city up to the Castle, near which the other door opened, defending it from sieges of enemies.

Imagining to walk the whole wall you would reach the Fort of Santa Scolastica but the profile of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, with its apses, leads us to stop first to visit it.


Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari
Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari

Statue of Saint Nicholas of Bari inside the Basilica
Statue of Saint Nicholas of Bari inside the Basilica


The Basilica of San Nicola is one of the most important places in the visit of Bari.

The church is an extraordinary example of Romanesque architecture and is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Turkey, one of the most venerated saints by both Catholics and Orthodox.

The saint’s relics were stolen by 62 sailors from Bari and arrived in the city on 9 May 1087.

The consecration of the basilica took place a century later, in 1197, and since then it has been the destination of pilgrims, from the Middle Ages to the present day.



Tomb of Saint Nicholas in the crypt of the Basilica
Tomb of Saint Nicholas in the crypt of the Basilica



A curiosity: the church was built incorporating the remains of the Palace of Catapano, the governor who during the Byzantine domination of southern Italy (VI-XI sec. d.c.) resided in the city.

The imposing white limestone facade, flanked by two bell towers, houses the three portals of entry to the basilica.

Inside, the three large naves are divided by imposing columns supported by three transverse arches; above them the precious baroque ceiling (XVII century) houses numerous paintings.

Near the presbytery are the most important architectural and sculptural elements: the mosaic floor of the twelfth century, the ciborium and the chair of Bishop Elia (twelfth century).

In the transept on the right is the rich silver altar with scenes of the life and miracles of Saint Nicholas made in 1684.


Interior of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari
Interior of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari

Interior of the Basilica of San Nicola di Bari. Presbytery
Interior of the Basilica of San Nicola di Bari. Presbytery

Ceiling of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari
Ceiling of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas of Bari


It’s time to enter the historic center of Bari, an area that preserves the typical medieval urban plan. It's here that the most authentic spirit of the city is perceived.


The walk in Bari Vecchia is an opportunity to be kidnapped by the perfumes of the bakeries that bake the famous 'focaccia barese', or laundry on the balconies of the typical houses leaning against each other.

But the smell of clean comes from the streets paved with stones made even more shiny because washed daily!



Typical Bari focaccia'
Typical 'focaccia barese'

The streets of the historic center of Bari
The streets of the historic center of Bari


A narrow street leads to the Cathedral of San Sabino.

The building suddenly appears in the center of the old town distinguishing itself from the other churches for its high bell tower, the dome with oriental charm and the ancient circular baptistery called 'Trulla'.



The Bell Tower and the Trulla of the Bari Cathedral
The Bell Tower and the 'Trulla' of the Bari Cathedral

Facade of the Cathedral of San Sabino in Bari
Facade of the Cathedral of San Sabino in Bari


The church was built by Bishop Bisanzio in the first half of the eleventh century above an older place of worship - of which there are significant traces in the underground - was destroyed in 1156 by William I of Sicily, called the Bad, to punish the bishop and citizenship for the rebellion repeatedly manifested against the Norman power.

Rebuilt by Bishop Rainaldo in 1292 in Romanesque style it is now the result of numerous renovations and restorations. 

The crypt retains the baroque aspect that it assumed in the seventeenth century with columns and walls covered with colorful baroque marble.


Interior of the Cathedral of San Sabino in Bari
Interior of the Cathedral of San Sabino in Bari

Mosaic of Timothy (VI sec. d.c.) of the early Christian church below the Cathedral of Bari
Timoteo's Mosaic (VI sec. d.c.) of the early Christian church below the Cathedral of Bari



A few steps from the Cathedral stand the towers of the Norman-Swabian Castle.

The first core of the castle dates back to the 12th century; between 1233 and 1240 Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), had it rebuilt after the damage suffered by William the Bad in 1156.

The deep moat and the massive angular spearhead bastions that characterize it were added in 1500 to adapt the fortress to the new firearms.


The Norman-Swabian Castle of Bari
The Norman-Swabian Castle of Bari


Almost opposite the entrance to the Castle opens via Arco Basso, a must in visiting the historic center of Bari.

The street is also known as the way of the pasta 'orecchiette' in which every day the skillful hands of the sitting ladies, each in front of the door of their own house, work to make kilos of orecchiette of all sizes. 


Via Arco Basso, the street of the orecchiette
Via Arco Basso, the street of the 'orecchiette' in Bari



A tour in Bari is definitely an opportunity to get to know the typical regional cuisine and discover much more of this beautiful city.

Our guided tours give you the opportunity to live the tourist experience without hassle (we buy the churches and museum tickets for you, we walk together safely in the town, etc), to save time and optimize your travel.

Please feel free to contact us at my@best-time-italy.com, we will be happy to help you in case you desire to take part in our customized guided tours in Bari or are looking for inspiration to plan your next travel experiences to Italy.