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Bari is located in the south of Italy and is the main town in the Apulia region (Puglia). Until recently, it was mostly known as a major port city, but the city council has put in a lot of effort in recent years to promote Bari as a tourist destination. For example, the two main squares in the historical center have been renovated and many cafes and restaurants have been opened around Piazza Mercantile and Piazza Ferrarese.
The old part of town - Bari Vecchia is well preserved and there are plenty of monuments to see. Like the beautiful basilica (with a gold leaf decorated ceiling), named after the patron saint of the city: St. Nicholas. Remains of the holy Nicholas are kept in this Basilica di San Nicola. His name day (December 6th) is celebrated on a modest scale in Bari; the big party is every year between 6th and 8th of May. There are history-inspired processions at sea (Saint Nicholas is after all the patron saint of sailors), musical performances and fireworks.The historical center is swarmed with old churches, charming squares and picturesque streets. Take the time to wander through the old Bari!
An impressive castle stands in Bari as well. This Castello Svevo was originally built in the twelfth century by the Normans. Yes, they had even penetrated to this region and this is why you occasionally may encounter a native of Bari with blond hair! The castle was destroyed twentyfive years after its construction, but rebuilt and strengthened by Frederick II. The majority of the walls of the castle today were constructed under the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon. Originally, the castle stood by the sea, but because of silting this is no longer the case. Regular exhibitions are being held in the castle. The castle district is the entertainment district of Bari.
It might surprise you, but the newer part of town - Murat is one of the largest shopping centers of Italy. Emphasis here is on fashion clothing, especially in the luxurious Via Sparano.
The local cuisine is very traditional. In all restaurants you can order dishes with the local pasta orecchiette. In residential areas you will often see women working the dough for this pasta. Orecchiette has the shape of a small ear and is often eaten with mesophyll.
The biggest attraction outside Bari is indisputable Alberobello. Around the village you will see hundreds of so-called trulli: traditional houses that are characteristic for this region. Trulli are round with conical roofs, and the whole is made from lime plates which are attached without mortar. The roof is often crowned with a cross, a pomegranate or a different decorative element.
Located in the plains of western Puglia is the Castel del Monte, about forty kilometers east of Bari. The octagonal castle lies on a hill and therefore can be seen from afar. You park your rental car down the hill and then it is about a ten minute walk to the top. You might think, have I seen this before? That may be true, because in and around this castle parts have been recorded for the film adaptation of Umberto Eco's book 'The Name of the Rose.'
If you drive from this castle down south you will end up at Gravina di Puglia. This town is 350 meters above sea level, on the edge of the deep Gravina Ravine. When Christianity made its appearance in this region churches were often built in hidden places - in caves. In Gravina you can visit two of such cave churches: the San Michele delle Grotte and the San Vito Vecchio. Speaking of caves: near Castellana, southeast of Bari, you can visit a vast underground tunnel system, with colorful stalactites and stalagmites.
If you drive along the coastal road (E55) from Bari towards Brindisi, you will see after about sixty kilometers something white on top of a rock on the righthand side. This is Ostuni, also known as the most beautiful town in Puglia. Take the exit from the highway to visit Ostuni. The immaculate white cube-shaped houses are reminiscent of an Arab town and that feeling is reinforced in the narrow streets.
With the rising of Puglia and Bari as tourist destinations, the number of overnight accommodations increases rapidly. You will generally have no trouble finding a hotel room in Bari, with the possible exception of the summer months. If you wish to visit Bari during that time, we recommend booking your accommodation well in advance.
Bari is a major economic and increasingly touristic center. It is therefore quite busy in the city. If you want to park your rental car on the street, please note the color along the curb. In blue zones (Zona Disco) you can only park with a parking disc for a certain time, usually up to an hour. That restriction applies from Monday to Saturday between 09:00 and 14:30 and between 16:00 and 18:00. In green zones (Zona Verde) parking is prohibited on weekdays from 08:00 to 09:30 and from 14:30 to 16:00. Do not park your car near the harbor, because that location is infamous for car break-ins.
The airport of Bari - Bari Palese Airport is situated eleven kilometers northwest of the town, near Palese. The airport is easily accessible by rental car: from the ring road around Bari follow the direction of Foggia (from the north) or the SP 271 (from the south).