A Trip Around Puglia part 1

My Story of Bari, Italy

Long time – no travel, but I’m back to my backpack and the first journey was to the Puglia (Apulia) region in Italy. More specifically, Bari, Matera, Alberobello and Polignano a Mare. 

Puglia is the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”, with Bari, the largest city in the region, as a sort of capital. However, besides Bari, there are many places worth visiting here and I only got to see a few of them. So, if you’re looking to do more thorough research on this part of Italy, have a look at its official travel website.

But if you’re curious about my story, keep on reading. I promise not to make it too boring. 

First things first, some logistics. I travelled by plane from Bucharest, Romania, to Bari, Italy with Wizzair. The round-trip tickets were bought about 2 weeks before the trip for around 50 euros. 

TIP time

From the Bari Airport to Bari Centrale (Central Train Station) there is a train that takes about 20 minutes and costs 5,10 euros. This line is different from the regular train line and tickets won’t appear available on apps such as Trainline or Omio. But you can find the timetables on their website here. Tickets are available at the automatic vending machines in the stations.

Story time

After reaching Bari Centrale, we started by foot towards the accommodation, located some 2km away from the station, in the direction opposite the city centre. Perhaps not our best decision, given we walked a lot and refused to take the bus, but other than not being in the city centre, the accommodation was great. It’s called Morris Bed&Breakfast, it’s located in a quiet neighbourhood, and has anything you need, including a very helpful and friendly host, who welcomed us and offered lots of useful information and maps of Bari. 

Once we settled, we headed back to the city, past the train station, into the modern shopping streets of Bari (Murat), filled with bars and restaurants, and then to the old town, with its cobbled streets, Svevo Castle, churches, and port. 

Part of Castle Svevo

We slowly made our way around the castle and stopped at the most popular gelato shop, located in the castle square: Gelateria Gentile. After enjoying some traditional gelato flavours, we continued exploring and found something that gave us a better feel of Bari – a tiny street lined with pasta-covered tables where some Barese ladies were making that pasta, fresh, right there in front of you. 

Gelateria Gentile

After that, we wandered the streets of the old town, the waterfront, then back to one of the main streets of Bari, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which marks the border of the old and new town and at the end of which we found a foodie’s treasure: La Porchetteria di Ariccia(Bari). As I’ve mentioned before, starting with My Story of Rome, when we first discovered porchetta, this Italian delicious savoury pork belly roll has become a staple in our Italian travels and we try it everywhere we can find it. It is specific to Rome and the centre of Italy, but there are some other places you might be lucky enough to find it. Bari is one of them. And La Porchetteria di Ariccia did not disappoint. It is a fast-food restaurant, which offers so many sandwich options, it was hard for us to decide what to pick. But just ask for a porchetta sandwich and start from there, adding as many extras as you’d like. Even now, thinking back to the sundried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and artichokes topping the juicy porchetta makes my mouth water. And yes, if it wasn’t obvious already, we ate here several times during our stay. 

Porchetta – the non-sandwich version

So, what to eat in Bari?

Besides the porchetta I already told you about, which is not specific to this region, you can also try the following:

•          Gelato (Italian ice cream)

This is obviously a must anywhere you find yourself in Italy. So whether you try the old Gelateria Gentile or any other shop around, give it a try. 

•          Orecchiete (small ears)

Don’t worry, these aren’t actual ears, but pasta specific to the Puglia region. Their shape sort of resembles ears, if ears are Dopey (Snow-White’s dwarf) style. I guess it’s an artistic choice, which I’m totally up for. 

•          Seafood

Being a seafront city, Bari offers plenty of seafood and fish options. The one I tried and actually saw displayed in various eateries was the octopus sandwich (panino con polpo). The version I had, was with spinach and burrata at the Muto Like a Fish restaurant in the Murat neighbourhood. 

Sandwiches on display at one of the many eateries in Bari

And now that we’ve eaten our way through Bari, let’s get walking.

What to do in Bari:

•          Walk the streets of the city centre, go shopping in the Murat neighbourhood and enjoy a cosmopolitan afternoon at the cafes.

•          Explore the old town and enjoy the tiny streets, finding hidden treasures, such as the pasta street I told you about, or tiny cafes and restaurants. 

The “Pasta” Street in Bari

•          Visit Svevo Castle and the Bari Cathedral. Located within a few steps from each other, these are, by far, the main attractions of the old town. However, in the same area, you’ll find at least three other museums. So, if you’re a culture buff, you’ll surely find plenty to see here, including Museo Civico and the Archaeological Museum.

•          Take a walk along the seafront, have a look at the boats, and rest on one of the benches near the port. 

•          Spend some time at the beach. You’ll find some small beaches on either side of the old town and port. The beaches to the south can be reached by train from Bari Centrale in about 10 minutes. 

View of the port in Bari

Stay tuned for my next stories of Puglia, to discover places such as Alberobello, Matera, and Polignano a Mare. Coming soon.


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