The renovated historic town center, the culture, the traditional cuisine, and grandmothers making orecchiette: this is what, according to Lonely Planet, akes Bari the fifth best European destination for the summer. The capital of Apulia was awarded the fifth place thanks to the rebirth that took place in the past decade. In fact, as Lonely Planets points out, the “previously overlooked as a gritty, working-class port, the authentic and welcoming city of Bari is now infused with a new energy and vibrancy.”
Indeed, the renovated old town, also known as Bari Vecchia, where the closed shops have become family-run restaurants where grandmothers cook orecchiette dishes, is at the heart of this ongoing process. A process that sees the reopening of cultural spaces, like the elegant Teatro Piccinni and Teatro Margherita – built on stilts in art nouveau style and recently turned into an extraordinary contemporary artistic arts hub that hosts temporary shows -, and historic hotels, like Oriente, which seemed destined for oblivion.
But Bari Vecchia is also a “tangle of narrow streets and elegant piazzas is a collage of spiritually inspired architecture that spans more than one thousand years.” A great example of this is the castle-like Pontifical Basilica di Saint Nicholas built between 1087 and 1197, during the Italo-Norman domination of Apulia, which has an incredible ornate 17th-century gilded wooden ceiling.
Moreover, Bari is returning to the limelight thanks to a lively nightlife – fueled by the local university, which has more than 50,000 students -, the increased security on the streets, and cleaner beaches on the Adriatic Sea.