The bare facts about Bari

In the Southeast of Italy in the region of Puglia, which forms part of the heel of the boot-shaped landform that is Italy.

Bari is both the name of a town and of a Province of Puglia. Apart from the plain area around the city of Bari, the territory is mainly high hills, called “murge”, and is partly occupied by the recently established National Park of Alta Murgia.

Bari has been a successful seaport for well over two millennia, and is the second most important economic area in southern Italy after Naples. Because of its economic importance and strategic location on the Adriatic Sea, Bari has seen much conflict over the years and it has been conquered numerous times.  Unfortunately, it is the only European city to have experienced chemical warfare, which occurred during World War II during a raid when illegal stores of mustard gas where destroyed during an air raid, with horrific consequences for the population.

Today Bari has fully recovered and the city and Province is very welcoming to visitors.

The Patron Saint of Bari is St Nicholas, and the Basilica that is named after him is one of Bari’s main attractions.  The Petruzzelli Theatre is considered to be one of Italy’s finest opera houses.  It was destroyed by fire in the 1990s, but has now been rebuilt and is back staging operas and ballets.

As you would expect of a coastal Province, there are a number of seaside resorts in Bari including Monopoli, Molfetta and the impressive Polignano a Mare, a town that rises out of a steep cliff face, one that is also dotted with grottoes. The town architecture harks back to medieval times with its white stone paved alleyways and charming views of the Adriatic.

Bari’s cuisine is considered to be very traditional, particular as it is a wheat-growing area, which is one of the staples of pasta.  The hat-shaped pasta called orecchiette is produced here, and calzone, an enclosed pizza, is also a popular local delicacy.

Bari is served by the Karol Wojtyla Airport, which was the real name of Pope John Paul II.

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