Bari should not be missed out when exploring Puglia, whether on vacation or if you are living in Puglia. In our early years of living in Puglia our experiences of Bari were extremely limited, just travelling between the main railway station and the airport either by bus or taxi. Either way, the views are not inspiring.
It all changed for us when we had family visiting, some years ago, and we arranged a visit to Bari, including a guided tour of the medieval centre of Bari, the district of San Nicola which is situated between the old port and the new port. The historic centre is a walled town within the city of Bari, boasting the Norman Sword Castle, many churches with amazing architecture and artwork to discover, the Basilica San Nicola, and the Cathedral of San Sabino.
Bari Vecchia, as the old town is known, is a maze of lanes and alleyways. We highly recommend taking a guided tour on your first visit in order to discover the best of this wonderful medieval centre.
The photos of our day in Bari tell the story.
More recently, in 2019 to be exact, I signed up for Italian language lessons in Bari. For about four months, three times a week I took the train from San Pietro Vernotico to Bari Centrale to go to the language school. During that time I discovered more about the “new” city, construction of which started in 1813. The language school was just a stone’s throw from the station and as I walked via pedestrian areas and discovered shops, cafes, restaurants, parks. I’m not a shopper by choice personally but it was a novelty to see so many shops, of different types, in one area. Everything from fabulous book shops, house and kitchen to designer clothing, from fast-food restaurants to vegan (my teacher was vegan).
During the day there is an excellent train service from Lecce and Brindisi, and smaller stations along the route, to Bari Centrale, a great way to travel for a day trip. When you leave the station head straight across the roundabout, past McDonald’s, and into the pedestrian area and continue straight through Piazza Umberto. It’s an easy walk from there to the historic centre. Bikes can be hired if you prefer to cycle from Velo Service.