Bari is almost all the way down in Italy. It is right before the heel. Never have I made it that far down before. The city came up on my radar when I noticed a direct flight with one of the new cheap airlines operating out Vienna. How wonderful to get on a plane and arrive 90 minutes later on the beach.
So far Bari is relatively unspoiled by tourists except for the unavoidable cruise people who are everywhere when a harbor is near. But even they didn’t mar my impression of unspoiled beauty.
I love a city with a local beach. Pane e Pomodoro is small and might have possible sewage leaks in bad weather (or so I was told). It is just the thing though when you are on a city trip. Perfect for a lazy afternoon.
Since we are already talking about the sea, the Lungomare goes on forever. Its endlessness provides the perfect location for a walk or just the right spot for a beer in the evening.
Of course Bari has a lot more to offer than just a beach. Although, even if I repeat myself here, I really love a city with a beach. The old town of Bari is full of narrow and crooked alleys like any old town in Europe; while the ‘new’ Bari is formed like a grid. Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon’s generals, married Napoleon’s younger sister and became king of Naples. While in the area he was also huge influence on the rest of south Italy. Bari has to thank him for the grid like planning. Murat has even a district named after him.
The old enter is seriously beautiful. The city has a liking for arches. I saw them on the streets and in churches.
The Basilica San Nicola is also stunning from the outside. She stands stark white and unadorned on an otherwise empty plaza.
Besides a rich abundance in churches (not sure if they are also still richly attended) the city has a Castello Normanno-Svevo. A Norman king built the castle in the 12th century, hence the name. That’s a Viking for you history buffs, just called by a different name.
Inside it looked as bold as on the outside. This is not a castle you can take easily. But rather a stronghold in which you can survive for a long time. Inside is a huge court with a water well.
Once you leave the castello and cross the piazza you come into the real center of Bari. The small pedestrian streets are narrow with the distinct feel of typical Italian lifestyle. Laundry is hanging from the windows with people meeting underneath exchanging gossip.
The Arco Basso street is also the place where you can find local ladies preparing orecchiette and selling them to you. There is no better place for buying a bag to bring home with you.
Bari really has a distinct authentic feeling. These things are not done for tourists, instead they are tradition. What a lovely surprise this city was. Wide open spaces in the new part of town and a historic presence in the old town. The feeling of wonder doesn’t leave you while walking around and there is always something new to see around the corner. Next time I have to stay longer in Apulia and get to know the rest of the area. Yours, Pollybert