The City of Bari (Italian) is the biggest and most important city in the Apulia region on Italy's Adriatic Coast. Offering extensive ferry services to neighboring countries, city leaders are making great efforts to expand tourism beyond the Balkan region and southern Italy to other tourist markets. The Port of Bari retains its Medieval plan and has many historic buildings and sites that offer many opportunities for visitors. Old town is the heart of the pre-Roman and Roman Port of Bari, and the district is full of chic bars and fine restaurants that offer all-night entertainment. The ancient Port of Bari, called Barivecchia by locals, offers many things to see and do.
The Port of Bari enjoys a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm dry summers. Snow is possible but not common. Temperatures range from an average high of 28 °C (82 °F) in July and August to an average low of 5 °C (41 °F) in January and February.
Visitors to the Port of Bari will want to visit the 12th Century Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, better known as Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle). Built by Roger II of Sicily in 1131, the castle was destroyed in 1156 but rebuilt by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in the early 13th Century. Isabelle of Aragon lived here in the early 16th Century and expanded and restored the castle into a royal residence. Today, it is a gallery for temporary and traveling exhibitions. One of the most interesting fortresses in the region, the Swabian Castle is a wonder of medieval construction with a classic stone bridge and corner embankments and several fascinating and historic towers. In addition to being the home of the Superintendency for Environmental, Architectural, and Historical Heritage for Puglia, it also houses a Gallery of Plaster Casts featuring ornamental cast structures of buildings and homes in the region from the 11th to 17th Centuries. Recent excavations have unearthed the remains of ancient Byzantine dwellings and a church.
The Port of Bari's Basilica of Saint Nicholas is an important religious pilgrimage site for people from Europe and around the Christian world. Founded in 1087 to hold the relics of Saint Nicholas, the Basilica is home to a cathedra (bishop's throne) from the 11th Century that is one of the best Romanesque sculptural works in southern Italy. The crypt that holds the relics of the saint has 26 columns in the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. The church also holds the 16th Century tomb of Bona Sforza, who claimed the Kingship of Jerusalem during the crusades, and a collection of 12th Century candlesticks that were given to the church by King Charles I of Anjou. The gilded wooden ceiling frames canvases by Carlo De Rosa. The church has been restored several times in the 13th, 15th, and 17th Centuries. A 20th Century restoration removed the Baroque additions from earlier restorations.
Dedicated to Saint Sabinus of Canosa, Bari Cathedral (Italian) was first built in 1034 in the Byzantine style. Destroyed when the Port of Bari was sacked in 1156, the structure was rebuilt in the late 12th Century on the ruins of the earlier Imperial Byzantine cathedral. The relics of Saint Sabinus, a bishop of Canosa, were brought here in the 9th Century. Traces of the original pavement can still be seen under the nave. As it has been for centuries, the cathedral is the seat of the Archibishop of Bari-Bitonto. The structure is a classic example of the Apulian Romanesque style of architecture. While the interior and façade were redecorated in the 18th Century Baroque style, these changes were removed in the 20th Century restoration.
Old Bari, called Barivecchia, is located to the north of the Murat area in the Port of Bari. Until recently, the area was plagued by crime, but the city has taken great pains to change all that. A major redevelopment effort created two main squares, the Piazza Mercantile and the Piazza Ferrarese, which are now the center of a trendy and busy collection of pubs, shops, and other venues. This more ancient section of the Port of Bari, inside the ancient city walls, is located on the peninsula that divides the new and old Port of Bari. Barivecchia holds many beautiful Romanesque monuments and many fine examples of Romanesque architecture, including the 11th Century Cathedral of San Sabino, the Church of San Gregorio, and many other ancient churches. A maze of narrow winding alleys, the old city contains 40 churches and over 120 shrines, attesting to the faith of the ancient community.
The Port of Bari is home to the largest trade fair in the Adriatic region, the Fiera del Levante. The fair features exhibitions from a range of industries and sectors each September. It includes a "Fair of Nations" where local handcrafted and produced goods from around the world are displayed. For example, the 2009 Fiera spotlighted "Expo Fishing," bringing exhibits of fishing methods, tackle, and techniques from the Mediterranean region. The Fiera del Levante Exhibition Center is managed by an independent organization established in 1929 by the town council, the Chamber of Commerce of Bari, and the provincial government to foster trade relations between Europe and the Mediterranean world. The first fair was held in 1930 on a 10-hectare plot of ground that has since expanded to 30 hectares that house some 20 exhibitions and fairs each year of both general and specialized interest. More than five thousand exhibitors participate in the event that attracts some two million visitors every year. The annual Leisure Time Fair, with a thousand exhibitors, is the largest such fair for the leisure industry in Italy.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Bari by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.