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Located at the top of Italy’s heel, the ancient, gritty port of Bari has become one of southern Italy’s most prosperous cities in recent years. Once considered slightly rough, Bari’s horn-shaped medieval old city and handsome waterfront, the Lungomare, have been beautifully restored and many visitors now linger here before heading for the beaches and historic towns nearby.

Bari has been around for 2,500 years, a history on show in sights such as the Romanesque St Nicholas’s Basilica, the Castello Svevo fortress and the 19th century Teatro Petruzzelli. Beyond its many monuments, Bari is also a very pleasant place to relax, browsing the food and crafts at Bari Market, drinking in the increasingly chic bars of the old city or tucking into local dishes such as squid linguini or rice baked with potatoes and mussels. Bari’s location in the north of the province of Puglia means its backyard is also one of Italy’s most beautiful and least discovered areas. Near the city are the rocky coves of the Tremiti Islands, the bone-white hill town of Ostuni, the cave city of Matera and the huge white sand beaches of the Salento area, as well as peaceful villages of trulli, Puglia’s distinctive cone shaped traditional houses.

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