The capital of the Apulia region in southeastern Italy, Bari is a major economic and cultural centre of the south, being at once an active and prosperous port and a university city. Founded by the ancient Greeks under the name of Barion, the city only passed to the Romans in the third century BC and has experienced its fair share of rulers, from the Byzantines through to the Normans, and later, the Revolutionary French.

This cosmopolitan feel is reflected in the cityscape, split as it is into four parts. The most obvious division is between the Old Town of the North and the modern Murattiano section in the South, built at the behest of Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s choice as king of Naples in the 19th century.

With the North positioned on the peninsula and the South linked to the seafront, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II acts as the dividing point. For tourists and inhabitants alike, it serves as an important path to the various attractions of the city.


Two of the major attractions of Bari are religious in character and have made the city a popular pilgrimage destination for Italians and Orthodox Christians across Eastern Europe. Most prominent in this regard is the Basilica of San Nicola. Associated with the original Santa Claus, this almost castle-like church was built between 1087 and 1197 while the city was dominated by the Normans and currently hosts the relics of Saint Nicholas (stolen by Barese sailors from Myra in what is now Turkey, who claimed the Saint had chosen Bari as his burial place). Many important artworks and examples of Romanesque architecture can also be found inside the Basilica, including the cathedra (Bishop’s throne), crafted in the 11th century. Although the Basilica garners much attention, the actual Duomo (Cathedral) of Bari is the Church of St. Sabinus. Originally built in the early 11th century but destroyed in the 1156 sack of Bari, it was rebuilt towards the end of the century and houses the relics of St. Sabinus and the icon of the Madonna Odigitria.

The city festival continues the religious theme, paying respect to Saint Nicholas on May 6th-8th with a celebration of music, fireworks and historical reconstructions. If you happen to be in the city during November, the small town of Adelfia-Montrone (20 minutes outside of Bari and accessible via bus or car) hosts a three-day festival starting on the 9th for San Trifone with neighbourhood contests and more fireworks.

Bari also contains the Pinacoteca Provinciale Gallery on the Palazzo della Provincia which showcases a collection of Renaissance paintings including works by Bellini (the gallery is only open on Sunday and Tuesday). High culture is also well catered for, with the Teatro Pubblico Pugliese on the via Imbriani, the Piccinni Theatre and the Fondazione Liricio Sinfonica Petruzzelli e Teatri di Bari on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II all offering operas, concerts and theatre.


The major shopping district of Bari is located in the Murattiano section in the South, with the ia Sparano and the via Argiro offering the best outlets.

Every September on the seafront of Lungomare Starita, Bari hosts the Fiera del Levante, one of the largest trade fairs in Italy. With roughly five thousand exhibitors, both Italian and foreign, plentiful and diverse produce is available. More information can be found via email:

Nightlife and Eating Out

Barese cuisine is grounded in the hinterland products such as oil and wine, as well as Pecorino cheese, olives and peaches being important. However, being a port, foreign influences are visible in the restaurants (Greek restaurants are particularly popular).

Some of the local dishes include orcchiette con le rape (a pasta dish served with anchovies and vegetables) and patate e cozze (potatoes baked with mussels), all of which are accompanied by the distinctive and inexpensive Pugliese wine.

The hub of nightlife activity is somewhat ironically the Old Town in the north of the city, which hosts numerous bars and restaurants. Courtesy of the university campus, most nights provide plenty of entertainment and many establishments operate long into the night and early morning.

Tourist Information

Puglia TourismPiazza Aldo MoroVia Bozzi, 45CTel: 080 524


Bari is served by the Bari Karol Wojtyla International Airport, situated approximately 9km from the town centre. Bus services to the city are available from the airport. Both British Airways and Ryanair travel to BIA, from London Gatwick and London Stansted respectively.

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