It is hard to speak about your own town because it is hard to get an fair opinion on your “mother”, knowing its good and bad. Until a few years ago Bari was known only as a city from where ferry boats leave to Greece, or a simple cruisers or tourists stopover, to go to other Puglia attractions. In about 20 years local authorities gave an important transformation to Bari, from “ugly duckling” to a beautiful swan, so that many tourists decide to stop there. Looking your own city with a foreign tourist’s point of view touches you, make you proud of it and thinking that Bari is actually a very hip town, which preserves its ancient Levantine nature, opening generously to new styles, identities, shades. Bari has thousand faces: it has the vitality of Barcelona with its big promenades and beaches in town, elegance like Wien and Paris with its shopping streets, the mystery of cities of Middle East with its labyrinth old town. Now, do you understand why Bari is included by the prestigious Lonely Planet Guide in the most beautiful 2019 European holiday destinations?
Bari is full of shades and contradictions: magnificent buildings near modest mansions, elegant and rich quarters contrast with slums. And so the people: you can find poshes, thugs, professionals, intellectuals, workers. However, in everyone you will find generosity and warmth. At the table it is in the “creanza”, the tradition of leaving the last bite of food in the dish, and away from the table it manifests itself with hospitality and with the meeting of different cultures and religions. Nobody is a foreigner in Bari: everyone is welcomed with a smile, a thought, a present, a hug and the promise to come back soon.
Probably built in Greek era, Bari reflects all civilizations who conquered it over the centuries. Arabs, Normans, Byzanthine, Spanish, everyone has left something in this city overlooking the Adriatic sea; from inhabitants faces (middle-eastern and nordic) to the monuments. The Norman-Swabian castle tells about the presence of Frederick II in these lands. The “Muraglia” (Wall) and Sant’Antonio fortress testify Barese defense from sea attacks. San Sabino Cathedral and the Basil of Saint Nicholas, the holy patron of Bari, are its religious symbols. The old town counts about twenty different eras churches, and we suggest to visit them all. The old town also hides wonderful underground secrets, like, for example, the ancient s. Maria’s Basilica and the impressive Timoteo’s mosaic. Bari is always been a trade city: the Murat Quarter, built by Gioacchino Murat, Napoleone Bonaparte’s brother in law, celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the elegant and modern city built from 1813, with its orthogonal streets, full of shops and stately buildings (Palazzo Mincuzzi; Palazzo Fizzarotti; Apulian Aqueduct Building) and, more, the famous buildings that make the Barese people proud: the Petruzzelli Theatre (one of the biggest and beautiful in Italy), red dressed between many white buildings, Piccinni Theatre in Prefettura square, Margherita theatre, which rises on the sea like a luxurious stilt house, today seat of exhibitions and cultural events.
There is a very big love between Bari and the sea: from the sea came Saint Nicholas, offering wealth and prosperity, from fishing to trades to transports. Bari harbor is an important stopover for cruise ships and transports of people and goods from North Europe to the East. There are private and free beaches in Bari, from the north coast to the south coast, where having relax and fun day and night: Pane e Pomodoro, Torre Quetta, San Francesco are the busiest ones. Lungomare of Bari - the longest in Italy - with its typical lanterns, is a wonderful place where to spend your time with friends, walking, jogging and enjoying sea breeze, especially in springtime or in summer. In summertime the nightlife is of course here, with a lot of bars, restaurants, pubs, where to drink, listening to the music, tasting barese’s street food, like focaccia, “pettole” (fried dough), “sgagliozze” (fried polenta) and, for the bravest, “crudo” (raw seafood and octopus).
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