Don’t make the mistake of resigning Bari to the rear-view mirror too soon, there’s much to stay for...
It can feel like everyone is leaving Bari sometimes. The port is a popular starting point for cruises around the glistening Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, while sun-tanned holidaymakers take off after their beach breaks without a second glance at Bari. Exhausted road-trippers too, memory cards chock full of evocative shots of Sorrento, Rome and Pompeii, might fly out of Italy’s south and forgo the chance to see one of Italy’s most atmospheric and historic cities by the sea. A few years ago you wouldn’t have blamed them, given the somewhat insalubrious reputation that Bari once had. But things are different these days and Bari has smartened up its act to unveil a charming old town and a trendy nightlife scene.
The capital of the region of Puglia, Bari really did need to get smart to compete with some truly wonderful holiday destinations just a short drive away. Before you jump in your hire car, take some time out in the city and see Bari Vecchia, the romantic old town, where ancient city walls, museums and churches compete for your time and attention. Sit for a while and order a cool drink at the water’s edge or sample olives and other delights fresh on your plate from the vegetable garden that is Puglia.
As a gateway to the heel of Italy and given that the city’s airport is popular with low-cost flight operators, car hire in Bari is highly desired and booking well in advance is advisable. You can collect your pre-booked vehicle at Bari Airport. Use TravelSupermarket’s search tool to compare prices and to book.
It’s sensible to arrange car rental; Bari is a great place to begin your break in southern Italy...
The region of Puglia, or Apulia, is essentially Italy’s high heel (plus a little more up the back of the boot) – a ribbon of land that features perfect beaches, castles, spas, hiking trails, age-old churches, and raw natural beauty in abundance. Add a splash of vino, rustic Italian cuisine and rather warm temperatures and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable holiday.
Before you travel to the spike of the heel for those sun-bleached shorelines, consider taking a look at the cities of Molfetta and Trani. A little way north of Bari, these destinations offer upmarket breaks that combine medieval charms and waterfront bars.
When you do head south, be sure to make a stop along the way at the town of Alberobello. It’s the trulli – the tiny, drywall dwellings with their gnome-like hats – that draw people here and convinced UNESCO to honour the town with a place on the World Heritage List. It takes around 60 minutes to drive from Bari to Alberobello.
Just a little further past Alberobello, the Salento Peninsula suddenly comes into view. The sandy beaches of the west coast might lure you on or Salento’s magnificent urban areas, of which gorgeous Lecce is surely king, might entice. Oria is also worth a visit if you love cosy Italian cafés, horizons crushed by magnificent buildings of the past and markets that purr with everyday life.
One of the most popular holiday resorts in Salento is Otranto, though beautiful beaches and laidback villages and towns can be found all around this mesmerising coast. Having a car makes finding your ideal spot that little bit easier.