While the Northern part of Italy is beautiful and more crowded with tourists, the region Puglia is despite its rich history in which Greeks, Romans and Normans have overrun it, not yet discovered by mass tourism. Bari is the capital of the Puglia region. Bari Vecchia, the old town, looks like a maze where you can enjoy infinite historical sites and architecture. Here are the places not to miss in Bari and its region.
Relics of Saint Nicholas in the Basilica San Nicola
The Basilica San Nicola is the most famous ecclesiastical building of Bari. It has a huge religious significance for people from all over Europe and it is also an important place of pilgrimage. The structure was built between 1087 and 1197 to store relics of St. Nicholas, which were transferred from the original shrine in Myra in present-day Turkey.
The Museo Nicolaiano
After a visit to the basilica, you might also be interested in visiting the Museo Nicolaiano, with information about the history of the Basilica of St. Nicholas. You will also find relic holders and other examples of liturgical art.
The Castello Normanno-Svevo
It is believed that the Normanno-Svevo Castle was built in 1132 by the Norman King Rogier II. In 1156, however, it was razed to the ground by King William of Sicily and reconstructed and fortified in 1233 by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Frederick II.
It then underwent several transformations under the rule of the Anjou family. After being acquired by Duke Ferdinand of Aragon, it was then donated to the Sforza family and then transferred to Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland. After her death the King of Naples made a prison and barracks. You can now visit an exhibition.
The Cathedral of San Sabino
The Cathedral of San Sabino is older than the Basilica San Nicola, but less known. The building that you can see in Bari, dates from the late 12th – early 13th century and was built on the ruins of a Byzantine cathedral, which was destroyed in 1156 by William I of Sicily, better known as’ il Malo ‘(‘ the Poor ‘).
Making pasta on the Via delle Orecchiette
In the historic center of Bari, more specifically in Arco Basso, you can see women rolling pasta on the street from 8 o’clock in the morning (Via delle Orecchiette). Restaurants prepare meals here in the same way as hundreds of years ago.
Day trips to other villages in Puglia
If you drive from the airport to the destination on the Strada Statale along the Adriatic coast, you will not be tempted by the monotonous, flat landscape. But don’t be mistaken. On the way through the interior, the region gives away its geographic diversity little by little: from the mountain country of Murgia, across the fertile plains full of olive and vineyards of the Itria valley or Salento, to the sun-drenched coast with an alternation of sandy beaches. In the middle of it: a rist surprising and hospitable towns and villages!
Make a stop at Ostuni, also referred to as Citta Bianco. When you walk through its streets, you will know why. Another must see is Alberobello, world-renown for its trulli. These are white round houses with a pointed roof.