My First Visit to Bari

By Emna

When I was trying to pick a place to sit the IMAT, my first choice wasn’t Bari (even though it was my first choice university). I wanted to sit the exam in another place so I could discover… but in the end I thought that maybe I should sit it in the city I’m going to live in, hopefully, for the next 6 years.

Now that I had picked where I was going to sit the IMAT, I needed a place to stay. I decided to go through Airbnb because I wanted to see what ‘a typical’ apartment is like (also not be in a hotel the whole time). This way I could try to do groceries, cook, visit the neighbourhood’s, or in other words, experience what my life in Bari would be like even if it was just for a couple of days.

The airport is kind of small and easy to find yourself in. My first problem when I arrived was, how I was going to get to the city centre.

I found out (after of course) that there were three options:

  1. Take a cab: Which will cost €23 euros. It’s the fixed price for every cab when you tell them you’re going to the centre.
  2. Take the train: Which will cost €5 euros (but it’s so long to walk to; averaging 5-10 minutes through a lot of escalators to reach the train). The travel time was around 15 minutes.
  3. Take the bus: Which will cost €4 euros and the travel time is 30 minutes

Bari is not a big city; it’s small but with a lot of charm.
I tried to explain in this map where I went and what you can find in it:

Visit Bari - Map of bari with certain parts highlighted and text explaining what is there

Bari Centrale:

Visit Bari - Central Bari

This is the center of the city where you will arrive with the train. However you need to know that if you try to use the train in Bari it’s only to leave the city (as in going to/coming from the airport/Rome/Milan..)
The main way of transport in the city is by bus or by foot; trust me, with one hour of walking you can go from the bottom to the top of this city.

The Old City/Port
Visit Bari - Alleyway in the old city part of BariBefore you go ‘inside’ the old port you’ll find the elegant Piazza del Ferrarese. It is a charming square and an excellent spot for lunch, or in the evening to go and have a drink and enjoy the view.

I personally just loved it… walking all through the old city during daylight hours is a nice experience.

It’s constituted of multiple little tiny streets with typical Italian balconies and grandmas sitting outside.
They even stopped me multiple times to tell me how pretty I was. They were just so nice and welcoming; it felt great. I really enjoyed this part of the city.
These are some of the pictures of the streets.

Visit Bari - Street in BariThe city is roughly divided into two by Bari Centrale. I stayed next to the Policlinico during my stay and I noticed that it’s quite different from the other side of the city (let’s call it the north of the Bari). The North side is full of shops where you can do shopping (you can find H&M, Zara, Sephora, Nespresso, etc.) and the old city is about 5-10 minutes from the shopping area by foot.

I remember the first night I went to the supermarket to do some groceries, the seemingly small outside was quite deceiving. As I went inside the huge interior it shocked me how it had everything I needed. A funny experience during my grocery shop was when I was looking for some orange juice. I asked one of the employees, but they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. They didn’t understand a word of english so you better learn how to say some basic things in Italian in case you will be lost in a supermarket like me. My visit was pretty late (around 9pm) and the streets were empty. At first I was kind of scared hearing rumours about certain cities not being safe with high crime rates etc. Of course since it was my first night in Bari I didn’t know what to expect, but although the streets were empty I didn’t have any trouble. However going forward it’s always a good idea to avoid going out at night by myself in empty streets.

A fun fact I discovered while walking in one of the neighbourhoods is their culture of lunch. At first I wasn’t paying attention, then I noticed that most of the shops were closed after 1pm till around 3/4pm. I used to live in Paris where most shops are open 24/7, so imagine my surprise when I found out most of the shops close almost 3 hours for “Pauso Pranzo”.

I didn’t really eat at restaurants so I can’t compare prices or tell you about the traditional food. I really wanted to experience personal/local ‘life’. I did groceries, cooked my own pasta with parmigiano on it, etc. However on my first night I was so tired that I stopped at a bakery that sold 1/4th of a pizza; it cost around €1.50 and it was so good and cheap considering how much it filled me.

Regarding navigation, Bari is not a very big city. If you have a GPS you will be more than okay. I didn’t end up having to ask Italian people for directions as I didn’t get lost, but in the shopping area there’s always a person who speaks English/French to help out.