The old city, a maze of narrow winding streets, is the perfect place to begin a tour of Bari. Its political and business heart lies in two squares: Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Mercantile, overflowing with people and pubs at all hours of the day. On the Piazza Mercantile, one can see the so-called Seat of Nobles, the ancient Town Hall, and the Column of Justice, to which debtors and thieves used to be bound and left to face the public's rage. Nearby you can also visit Niccolò Piccinni's house, an eighteenth century composer, and the city's conservatory bears his name. San Nicola's Basilica is in the same square, a symbol of the city and considered an Apulian-Romanesque masterpiece.
Discovering the old city continues with a visit to the Church of San Marco, erected by Venetian merchants living in the area at the end of the 11th century. A few steps further on lies the early-Christian basilica of San Sabino, an interesting example of multiple styles intermixed. On the left is the Trulla, a round building believed by many to be the ancient baptistery, which today houses the sacristy.
Behind San Sabino rises the imposing Frederick's Castle, a fortress strongly desired by Frederick II in his time, and subsequently extended by the Aragons. From the outside you can clearly see the medieval influence, above all thanks to the Gothic style mullioned window. Crossing the bridge that spans the moat, you will notice the sixteenth century influence once you get inside. For those who wish to journey even deeper into Bari's art history, the Civic History Museum is a must-see. Other clear examples of cultural stratification and intermingling can be found at Santa Scolastica and on the lovely Piazza Santa Maria del Buonconsiglio.
Bari's nineteenth century buildings include the Palazzo Mincuzzi, evoking the large French department stores in Liberty style, the famous Petruzzelli Theatre and the Pinacotecta Provinciale, gallery, with its splendid halls dominating the medieval city. Together with the old Port, they offer a clearer vision of the city's artistic beauty.
After strolling through Bari's alleys and discovering its art and culture, you can let yourself be tempted by the aromas of traditional Apulian cuisine. You simply must try the "orecchiette" pasta - called "chiancarelle" in dialect - with turnip greens, and also "strascenate" and "cavatijdde" topped with pork ragu sauce and stuffed with cheese, parsley and lard. As is typical in southern regions, Bari offers a wealth of seafood, from mussels to sea urchins, baby octopus, oysters and anchovies. And of course, everything is dressed with excellent Apulian extra-virgin olive oil. One of the best places to try these delicacies is La Pignata. If you prefer snacking, make the most of happy hour at one of the many pubs in the city centre on Via Cavour. Afterwards, you can spend the evening at the Piccinni Theatre, with its historic stage dedicated to prose, offering the best national plays, year upon year. Your holiday will framed by sun, sea and hospitality hard to come by elsewhere. The Apulian Murghe region awaits you with reasonably priced last minute holidays in Bari.