Welcoming ferries from across the Adriatic and serving as the gateway to Puglia – Bari is a historic port town that invites you on a journey through everyday life in Italy’s unpretentious south. Explore further afield to immerse yourself in Puglia’s beauty and cultural wonders - or simply soak up the atmosphere roaming the crooked streets of Bari’s old town - Bari Vecchia - where matriarchs roll out sheets of pasta in open doorways, footballs rattle along dusty streets, and sun-wrinkled old men lay out hands of cards.
The photogenic old town’s streets are crowned by the chalky white Cattedrale di San Sabino, where vaulted archways, pretty mosaics and a large rose window await. Wander along the ruler-straight Lungomare Promenade to breathe in fresh salty air and look up at the slowly twirling ferris wheel - take a ride for some of the best views out over Bari’s waterfront. Feeling hungry? Enjoy some local cucina povera - cooking of the poor – deeply traditional food that is simple and rich in elemental flavours. Warm focaccia bread, pasted with fruity local olive oil, and ear-shaped orecchiette pasta tangled with sun-gorged cherry tomatoes and creamy ricotta cheese, is all on the menu.
Puglia’s whitewashed ancient villages, stunning beaches and laid-back, down-to-earth approach to life means you’ll most likely want to explore further than just Bari. Highlights include Lecce’s grand baroque architecture, and the conical-roofs of the fairy-tale trulli houses of Alberobello. Powdery white sand beaches await at Salento - punctuated by arching rock formations. The incredible cave dwellings of Matera – 2019’s European Capital of Culture - are also easily within your grasp, as is Polignano a Mare’s spectacularly scenic narrow wedge of urban beach. Surrounded on three sides by steep terraces of rock, and full of snorkelers admiring the sights below the crystal-clear water, it’s a truly stunning place to bathe in the glow of the Italian sun.