Bari is the main city of southern Italy and a major ferry port. From here people travel to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. The old town is typically winding and narrow, but the rest of the city is laid out in an elegant 19th century grid with a seafront promenade, and now also has a modern business center of glass skyscrapers located in the suburbs.
The medieval old town, Barivecchia, has in recent years been won back from petty criminals and is these days a thriving hub for nightlife, pubs and clubs abounding, much to the annoyance of those who like life a bit quieter.
How to Get to Bari
The cruise ship terminal is right in the heart of Bari and an easy 20 minute walk to Barivecchia, the old town. Alternately, there is a local bus which stops right outside the port terminal, or taxis and a shuttle bus.
One Day in Bari
While it may not have the glamour of some parts of Italy, Bari is the south’s most well-heeled city and has the boulevard of designer shops to prove it: Via Sparano da Bari. It also has an appropriately winding and narrow old town, Barivecchia, with lovely piazzas and many, many churches and shrines dotted throughout.
The most interesting is the Basilica di San Nicola, a lovely Romanesque church whose saint is Saint Nicholas, he who was commercialised into being Santa Claus in the early 20th century. But before this happened, Saint Nicholas was – still is – the patron saint of children - and prisoners.
His remains are here – plundered from Turkey in the 11th century – and the church is a site of pilgrimage. Bari also has a castle, Castello Svevo, which is now used for art exhibitions. These days Bari is a thriving student town, with a lively market on the edge of the old town and bars a plenty.
The official language in Bari is Italian, although the local dialectic continues to be a strange hybrid of Italian and Greek surviving from its fishing port days. Not a lot of English is spoken, although due to its busy ferry terminal function, the port area can be a bit of a Babel-tower of languages. The currency is euro.