Bari is a Brilliant Base

I chose to stay in Bari for the best part of a week and to commute each day to somewhere wonderful rather than keep moving my luggage and me.

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I wanted to see Alberobello, Matera, Ostuni, Polignano a Mari and of course Bari itself. Each of the former is do-able from Bari as day trips as they are all well-served by trains.

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I had heard Bari was a busy port town and potentially a bit dodgy so I arrived one day in June with low expectations and the address for a cheap hotel within a short walk of the station. It was selected entirely due to its location and that it happened to do a great breakfast according to Booking.com reviews.

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In the more modern part of Bari big city blocks with wide streets and tall buildings are set out in a grid pattern. It is very easy to find my way about.

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My hotel was every bit as expected; a grand dame that has seen better days. It was very dated with a tardis type shower that leaked to the point of using every towel to mop up after every shower. On the other hand, there was air-con, a pretty Italian wrought iron bed head, & light fittings and I slept well. And the breakfast was for me, very good. Not being a bread eater nor a coffee drinker, this one was exceptional with fruit, yogurt, a choice of cereals and even pretty good strong tea. It was €45 per night.

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Late afternoon I set off with a map to orientate myself and tried to head for the seafront and old town, …tried! I could tell I was near but got blocked by the port security fencing. Eventually I went to ask for help identifying my location from a nice woman standing nearby. In my best dreadful Eng-talian I asked something close to, “Scusi, puo dirmi dove Io sono on la mia piantina?” The gorgeous Italian woman explained in perfect English, then said I was welcome to join her tour shortly. I decided I would do just that so waited for a while till we made up a group of about 15 including English, Canadian, Australian and French. I was still not feeling very excited about Bari at this stage.

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As it turned out, I’m so pleased I found this fabulous tour and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Free Walking Tours Bari and our gorgeous guide Anna brought Bari alive for me. She opened my eyes to a richness in this city I would not have found alone. It was 2 and a 1/2 hours of pleasant strolling, seeing the sights, exploring the old town, and even connecting with locals with whom Anna interacts politely and warmly.

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We learnt about:

-the legend of Saint Nicholas in Bari; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

-we see the miracle pillar for finding love in the Orthodox crypt of the St Nicholas church.

-and we eat delicious fried chickpea fritters, Sgagliozze baresi.

-We see evidence of a majestic past in the paving on the ground,

-the seaside market by the promenade

-and the city theatre burning down in more modern times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teatro_Petruzzelli

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By myself over the next few days I also discovered Saint Columba of Sens in Bari Cathedral.

(It didn’t feel right to take a photo, and none on google give usage rights so I haven’t put one in but if you are interested, check her out, she is a wee bit of a shock but very interesting Her head is firmly attached even though she were beheaded, which may have something to do with her sideline in witchcraft from her Spanish namesake??)

There is very nice shopping in the new town on the wide pedestrian street and parallel shopping streets and it was here that I browsed and bought more than anywhere else bar Rome. I was delighted to also find a watch shop where I could get the watch batteries replaced in my Italian watch I bought 3 years ago which has been flat for the past 2. It only cost €9 but made my day!

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To Alberobello in the morning…

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