Why Bari (Southern Italy) Just Made Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Europe’ 2019 List

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:00
Picturesque street in Bari Italy

The southern Italian town of Bari has been included in the recently released ‘Best in Europe’ annual list by Lonely Planet, which determines “the most exciting spots on the continent right now”.

Bari, the port town capital of Apulia and second-largest town in southern Italy, has grabbed the number 5 spot for the following reasons, according to Lonely Planet:

“Don’t call it a comeback, but Bari, which has long served as a jumping-off point for tourists en route to Puglia’s big hitters further south, has got a spring in its step – the once down-at-heel port city protruding from Italy’s Achilles is enjoying a renaissance that’s been a decade in the making.

A reinvigorated old town sets the tone, the boarded-up shop fronts replaced by family-run eateries where grandmothers dish up plates of ear-shaped orecchiette in pretty piazzas. But the changes here are more than cosmetic: cultural spaces are reopening, from the ornate Teatro Piccinni theatre to once-condemned heritage hotels like the Oriente; not forgetting the art nouveau Teatro Margherita, a former playhouse repurposed as a striking art space on stilts over the sea. With the nightlife better (cocktails in a former ticket office, anyone?), the streets safer and the surrounding beaches cleaner, Bari is bouncing once again.”

On the Adriatic Sea, Bari was for a long time considered just a gritty port town. Its labyrinthine historic center, Bari Vecchia, occupies a promontory between two ports. Surrounded by typical narrow streets, the Basilica of San Nicola, dating back to the 11th century, is a favorite destination for pilgrims who travel to the city to pay homage to the remains of the saint, guarded in the church that is one of the best examples of Puglia Romanesque architecture. On the outskirts of the città vecchia is the Castello Svevo, built around 1132 by Norman King Roger II.

So the next time you arrive in Bari, consider spending some time in the city rather than leaving straight away for Salento and trulli.