Italy is never a bad idea – history, culture, architecture, beautiful surroundings, great weather, excellent and diverse cuisine are to be found wherever and whenever you set foot in this country. Beginning of May was time for a girls trip to get a taste of the sunny Puglia. With a first stop in Bari.
Bari is the capital city of the Puglia (or Apulia) region in Italy, on the Adriatic Sea, in southern Italy. It is the second most important economic center of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas.
With a population of about 330 000 people, Bari has one of the most unique and amazing old towns. Narrow streets, with 3 stories buildings and old TV antennas up on the terraces, with laundry hanging outside the balconies spreading out a fresh smell, with old ladies sitting in front of their houses and making fresh pasta.
During the stay in Bari, we decided that a guided tour would tell us more about the city than just walking for ourselves and getting lost on the old town’s streets – which can happen very often as this place is a true maze and it happened not only once to lose direction.
Free Walking Tour Bari is a very nice option for a guided tour. Anna, our guide was exactly what we were looking for. We had a three hours tour of the old town with great stories about the people, the culture, the lifestyle and the cuisine of this city.
Old town Bari (or BariVecchio, how the locals call it) is home to a big family of people who live in between its walls. Although it’s a mixture of all sorts of nationalities, people living here like to spend their time together. You will see them gather on warm summer nights just outside their houses, in the nearby piazza, put a big table in place and have dinner together. Nothing fancy, they just like to be together, laugh and talk out loud, this being their own way of building a community.
Women of BariVecchio wake up early every morning and prepare fresh pasta just outside their houses and leave the pasta in the sun all day to get dry. There’s a specific type of pasta that you will find on the narrow streets of this lovely city. Oriechiette (translated would mean “small ears”) are the famous pasta that Bari produces and that are available in many restaurants of the city.
Every region of Italy has its specific in terms of gastronomy that goes far beyond the classical pizza and pasta stuff. Puglia and Bari have a mixture of everything, plenty of vegetables (agriculture being one of the main activities here), plenty of sea food and plenty of meat.
Street Food – Walking on the streets of BariVecchio, you shouldn’t miss the Sgagliozze and the Popizze. Sgagliozze is fried polenta and Popizze are made from the pizza dough, they look like small doughnuts, they are fried and served with salt. You will find these small booths all over the place selling freshly fried sgagalizze and popizze.
Oriechette dishes – one of the traditional local pasta dish is served with horse meat ragu or with turnip tops, but also oriechette with sea food or aged ricotta are also quite famous.
Cheese – The most known is canestrato pugliese (after the canestri, or baskets, in which it is aged), which is often grated on pasta.
Seafood – as lots of people living in BariVecchio still go fishing early in the morning, the city has a lot to offer in terms of sea food. You will find lots of fresh fish and sea food in every restaurant you go. What’s really traditional in this area are the octopus dishes, the sea hedgehog dishes and a very Bari specific dish with potatoes, rice and mussels.
We only spent three nights in Bari and we didn’t get the chance to check out all the places I had put on the list, but here’s what we did check and enjoy:
La Cantina di Cianne Cianna – hidden away on a small street, with a very nice summer terrace, this place has a very traditional “barese” menu with all the classics – oriechiette, sea food, horse meat.
Pizzeria di Cosimo – this place is perfect for enjoying an authentic pizza experience. It’s where the locals go in the evening for having pizza. You order, you wait your turn, you eat outside on their terrace facing a lovely small piazzetta. Everything happens fast, as there are others waiting in line to get their share of pizza. The menu offers a large variety of pizzas, for every taste.