Bari is a port city on the Adriatic Sea and the capital of mezzogiorno‘s (southern) Italy’s Puglia region, known especially by its beautiful old town, Barivecchia, who occupies a headland between two harbors. Surrounded by narrow streets, the iconic and famous 11th century Basilica di San Nicola is a key pilgrimage site and holds some of St. Nicholas’ remains. To the south, the Murat quarter has stately 19th century architecture, a promenade and shopping areas.
Well, this is the usual precarious description of Bari you find when google about it and maybe few variations on the same theme, basically the info I’ve got before arriving in the city. Once I stepped here, I discovered an authentic Italian place, highlighting amazing modern architecture and beautiful, colorful buildings. The city has wide streets and lots of greenery, inviting to a stroll with lots of gelato flavors from the cozy little stores placed almost in every corner.
The general vibe of Bari seemed to me quite cosmopolitan, and the elegant, friendly locals, having the air that they enjoyed fully every moment of the day. The promenade along the Adriatic seafront is gorgeous and long, just like a good walk, where you can burn the calories from pasta, pizza and other delicious dishes, starting from Teatro Margherita and heading to Pane e Pomodoro Beach.
Food is excellent and affordable in Bari; we ate in various small restaurants while visiting the city, and enjoyed especially the calzone. Local flour is used in homemade bread and pasta production including, most notably, the famous orecchiette, the small, ear-shaped pasta.
Barivecchia is irresistibly beautiful and fascinating with its narrow and labyrinth streets between old houses made of stone and covered by colorful laundry and joyful sheets hanging to dry everywhere, swelling in the wind. Of course, you will meet everywhere, in the morning or evening, the old ladies sitting outdoors, in front of their houses, on indoor chairs, who gossip and share daily hot domestic news with sharp voices, preserved by laughter with hidden meanings, while watching the passers-by with curious eyes.
Basilica di San Nicola was founded in 1087 to receive the relics of this saint, which now lie beneath the altar in the crypt, where are buried the Topins, a legacy of old thieves converted to good faith.
The Bari Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Sabinus of Canosa (San Sabino), and was begun in Byzantine style in 1034. An example of Apulian Romanesque architecture, the church has a simple façade with three portals; in the upper part being a rose window decorated with monstrous and fantasy figures.
My favorite moment was a few hours walk on a Saturday morning through the downtown city that slowly woke up to life, so reassuring under the gentle sun of late September, discovering it at every step and going, without a particular target, on the streets that opened in my way.
I stayed long time in front of a floral store, looking how the florist put out of the car the merchandise, unloading it from a green little car and wondering about how they manage to deliver elaborate bouquets orders by bicycle.
Another interest points were the arrangements and decorations in shop windows, which I liked a lot, because were both novel and creative, in a genuine Italian style, of course, touched by that subtle and simple elegance.
The only regret I have after the 7 days stay in Bari was not to found any tickets at any theater show played at Teatro Petruzzelli. First thing on to do list for my next trip to Bari.
Mi piace molto Bari.
Photo credits: personal archive Ruxandra Chiurtu