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Bari, Italy: What To Do If You Only Have A Weekend To Visit

Bari, Italy: What to do and where to go if you are only in this beautiful city for a weekend and you want to be sure to see the most important historical sites.

Bari Italy what to do - Crypt of Santa Claus

The Crypt of Santa Claus

Bari, Italy: The Basilica Of Saint Nicholas

I found that one of the most interesting sites in Bari, in my opinion, is the Basilica of Saint Nicholas. While it certainly is a beautiful basilica and has a historical significance, the history of Saint Nicholas and his relationship to the American version of Santa Claus is fascinating. Saint Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) is the one saint who enjoys the most widespread cult of personality in the life of the Catholic Church, after that of the Virgin Mary.

As I visited this basilica, I kept remembering a passage from one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris, who wrote a story called: “Six to Eight Black Men”, which is about the cultural differences between the Christmas story of Santa Claus in the US and in the Netherlands. It talks about how Santa “used to be” the Bishop of Turkey, to which he replied: “I’m sorry, but Santa didn’t used to do anything!”. This basilica that celebrates Saint Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Turkey, is also the origin story of Santa Claus as we know him.

The Architecture Of The Basilica Of Saint Nicholas

The Basilica which houses the remains of St. Nicholas (i.e. Santa Claus) stands imposingly in the Bari Vecchia, which is the old part of the city. It is five minutes from the sea and 15 minutes from the Bari Centrale train station. The style is Romanesque, giving this majestic example of Apulian Romanesque art a massive and sober appearance, characteristic of Norman architecture.

On the outside, the Basilica of Saint Nicholas reveals its history from the external architecture, which seems inspired more by the structure of a fortress than a church. It should not be forgotten, in fact, that in the Norman period it was used several times as a defensive fortress.

After you enter the Basilica, from the central nave you have a view of the upper galleries, called women’s galleries, which direct your gaze towards the large separating arch, beyond which the beautiful tabernacle stands.

The Basilica has three naves divided by twelve gray granite columns 31 inches in diameter. The length of each nave is 190 feet, the width is different: the central nave is 85 feet, while the lateral ones are under 30 feet.

Bari Italy what to do - Basilica of Saint Nicholas

Basilica of Saint Nicholas

The Crypt Of Saint Nicholas

In a lower level of this basilica is the tomb or crypt of Saint Nicholas. This is a popular pilgrimage site, including from Eastern Europe, which saw a large increase since the fall of the USSR. Every December 6th, the city of Bari celebrates Saint Nicholas Day, which is the main feast day full of transitions, myths and solemnity.

Bari, Italy: The Castello Svevo In Bari

When you walk around Bari Vecchia, you can help but notice the imposing Norman castle that dominates the skyline. This is Svevo Castle, also known as Castello Svevo, Swabian Castle and Houhenstaufen Castle.

Why Is It Called Castello Svevo?

The origins are historically attributed to the Norman King Roger II, the Castle was built on pre-existing Byzantine housing structures and, after the harsh intervention of William I the Evil, it was recovered by Frederick II of Swabia between 1233 and 1240. Swabia translates to Svevo, which is a region in southwestern Germany.

When Was Castello Svevo Built?

The Castle was built in 1131 on pre-existing Byzantine housing structures and in the second half of the 13th century , Charles of Anjou implemented a restoration program aimed at strengthening the north wing of the Castle, which at the time was directly lapped by the sea.

What Is In The Castello Svevo?

I think it would be polite to describe the interior of the castle as not being cursed with too many artifacts. Only the ground floor was accessible to visitors and there are a lot of open spaces with two small archaeological excavation areas, where pre-existing structures from the Byzantine era are visible.

Bari Italy what to do - Castle Svevo

Castle Svevo

There are two rooms that provide an audiovisual presentation that describe the history of the Castle, Bari and the Puglia region that I found very informational.

Also, there are rooms in the west wing on the ground floor of the Castle that house the Plaster Cast Gallery, a collection of plaster reproductions of the sculptural apparatus of the most important Apulian monuments and cathedrals.

When Can You Visit Castello Svevo?

The castle is open to the public six days a week, they are closed on Mondays, and the hours are from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM. You can buy a ticket up to one hour before closing and there are reduced price tickets available if you are in one of the discount categories that you would typically find all over Italy, like children, students, handicapped, etc.

Bari Italy what to do -Svevo Castle Reproductions

Svevo Castle Plaster Reproductions

On the website, the price is listed as €7, but in actuality I paid €8 because of a surcharge that I noticed when I visited another museum in Rome. The reason for the additional Euro is:

€1.00 from 15 June to 15 December 2023, in compliance with the Legislative Decree. 1 June 2023 n.61 “Urgent interventions to deal with the emergency caused by the flood events that occurred starting from 1 May 2023″

Bari, Italy: Aldo Moro Tributes

There are memorials and dedications to Aldo Moro around Rome due to the events surrounding his death in 1978 that took place in Rome. There are other cities that celebrate the life of Aldo Moro, and one of them is Bari, Italy.

Bari Italy what to do - University of Aldo Moro

Aldo Moro University In Bari

Who Is Aldo Moro?

Aldo Moro was born in 1916 in Maglie in the province of Lecce in the heel of the boot that is Italy. He was among the founders of the Christian Democrats and he became its secretary in 1959. He was a minister several times and as prime minister he led several center-left governments in Italy. In 1978 Moro was kidnapped and killed by the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), who were a far-left Marxist–Leninist armed organization.

Why Are There Tributes In Bari?

Even though Aldo Moro was born in Maglie, Italy, his family moved to Bari in 1934 when he was 18 years old and where he stayed for 29 years. Aldo Moro studied law, and later became a professor, at the University of Bari, which was later named after him.

Bari Italy what to do -  Aldo Moro Piazza

Tribute To Aldo Moro

The Aldo Moro Piazza

When you arrive in Bari by train and you exit the Bari Centrale station the first thing you are greeted with is the Piazza Aldo Moro. This piazza is dedicated to the statesman and includes a huge fountain and a bust of Aldo Moro. This is a transportation hub for the city buses and is a very bustling part of the city.

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