An ancient city just waiting to be discovered
It’s worth doing an excursion just to wander around the old city of Bari, an entrancing jumble of streets that are possibly the most mind-bending place to walk around on your Mediterranean cruises to southern Italy.
Situated at the far end of Corso Cavour, its labyrinth of seemingly endless passages, weaving through courtyards and under arches, were originally designed to spare the inhabitants from the wind and throw invaders into a state of confusion. Here, life is lived very much outdoors, and on summer evenings it’s full of people sitting outside their kitchen doors.
On arriving in the heart of Bari’s old city, you find the Basilica di San Nicola, consecrated in 1197 to house the relics of the saint plundered a century earlier from southern Turkey via Mediterranean Sea. The real beauty of the church lies in its stonework, but best of all is the twelfth-century episcopal throne behind the altar, a superb piece of work supported by small figures wheezing beneath its weight.
Seventy kilometres inland, Matera, situated on the edge of a ravine at the eastern end of Basilicata, dates from the Middle Ages when monks built rock-hewn churches and monasteries into what are now called the Sassi an intricate series of terraced caves. Later, farmers, seeking safety from invasions, also settled in the Sassi, fashioning their homes, stables and shops out of the rock, creating one of Italy’s oddest townscapes and its most significant troglodyte settlement.
Excursions & Activities
From the north, take the Bari Nord motorway exit. From the south, take the Bari Sud exit.
From either exit, take the Bari bypass (Circonvallazione di Bari) in the direction signposted "Fiera/Porto". Follow the bypass to the end, turning left for "Fiera/Porto" at exit (uscita) 4, which goes to Via Napoli.
Take Via Napoli to the intersection with Via Brigata Regina, then turn left into Corso Vittorio Veneto. Follow the coast until you reach the port.
Get off at Bari Centrale train station.
The port is just a short taxi journey away (approx. 15 min. depending on traffic).
Bari Palese Airport
The port is a half-hour tax journey from the airport, depending on traffic.