“…After dinner, we wandered about in the twisted cobbled alleyways of the old town. The two main streets were well lighted and filled with people, but the maze of alleys, arches, ancient doors and exterior stairs were dark, empty and secretive. On a large square the great Romanesque Cathedral rose like a stately ship under the white full moon. Another piazza was dominated by the Romanesque basilica of St. Nicola. (On a later, daytime visit, I noticed how the contrast of blinding light and deep shadows on the side arcades lightened the massiveness of the building in a very deliberate manner.) Walking under a great Gothic arch we found ourselves on a deserted quay on the seashore. Half a dozen ships lay anchored in the bay, and a sad sound from a siren drifted over us from one ship. The quiet was an enormous relief after the checkerboard of sounds in the old town; punk rock, hymns, sentimental songs and loud voices…”
Bari, the region’s capital and impressive for its vitality and human scale, is really two cities. The old town a hilly peninsula jutting over the old port (Bari rivaled Venice in the 11th century), is a warren of little streets similar to those found in an Arab town. The old part of the city is surely the most interesting for tourists (but not only) as here are concentrated all main attractions of Bari. This is the place where you can see the oldest buildings in the city – the so called ancient Barium. The buildings here were built yet in the era of the Roman Empire. In the territory of the old town you will find approximately 30 ancient churches and basilicas that were built during different epochs in the history of Bari. Every religious landmark is considered a unique one and you can hear many interesting mysteries and legends connected with them. Basilica of St. Nicholas remains the main symbol of Bari for already many years. The basilica keeps striking visitors not only by its size, but also by truly rich choice of valuable relics. The church keeps an important religious artifact – the relics of St. Nicholas. Every year a huge number of pilgrims come to the city to see the precious relics. In one of the halls of the church are located ancient icons that were brought to the basilica right after its founding – in the beginning of the 11th century.
New Bari is a vivacious, thriving town laid out in the last century on the gridiron plan, with wide avenues, impressive public buildings (including a large theater and the university), museums, concert halls, fine restaurants and ultramodern apartment houses. The central square of the city is a perfect destination for hiking. The square is decorated with magnificent fountains and statues. Not far away from the square you will find a theater and an art gallery. You can learn a lot about the past of Bari if you make an excursion to the city’s Historical Museum (Museo Storico Civico), which is also located near the center of the new district. Fans of theater simply cannot fail to ignore Petruzzelli Theatre, which occupies a beautiful historic building. In 2010, the famous theater was reopened after the restoration. Today the halls of the theater and its scene look truly amazing. The atmosphere here is reminiscent of old noble palaces. Suburban areas of Bari are truly rich in various historical and architectural attractions. Vast majority of fashion boutiques, jewelry and perfume shops are concentrated in the port area and near the railway station. In these parts of the city you can find widest choice of shopping pavilions with all kinds of goods right in every street.