Bare (Neapolitan)
Comune di Bari
Lungomare di Bari
Piazza del ferrarese
Piazza Mercantile
Flag of Bari
Coat of arms of Bari
Location of Bari
Bari is located in Italy
Location of Bari in Italy
Bari is located in Apulia
Bari (Apulia)
Coordinates: 41°07′31″N 16°52′0″E / 41.12528°N 16.86667°E / 41.12528; 16.86667
Metropolitan cityBari (BA)
 • MayorAntonio Decaro (PD)
 • Total117 km2 (45 sq mi)
5 m (16 ft)
 (1 January 2019)[2]
 • Total316,491
 • Density2,700/km2 (7,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code080
ISTAT code072006
Patron saintSaint Nicholas
Saint day8 May

Bari (/ˈbɑːri/ BAR-ee, Italian: [ˈbaːri] ; Barese: Bare [ˈbæːrə]; Latin: Barium) is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, southern Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples. It is a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas. The city itself has a population of 315,284 inhabitants, and an area of over 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi), while the urban area has 750,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area has 1.3 million inhabitants.[3]

Bari is made up of four different urban sections. To the north is the closely built old town on the peninsula between two modern harbours, with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Cathedral of San Sabino (1035–1171) and the Norman-Swabian Castle, which is now also a major nightlife district. To the south is the Murat quarter (erected by Joachim Murat), the modern heart of the city, which is laid out on a rectangular grid-plan with a promenade on the sea and the major shopping district (the via Sparano and via Argiro).

Modern residential zones surrounding the centre of Bari were built during the 1960s and 1970s replacing the old suburbs that had developed along roads splaying outwards from gates in the city walls. In addition, the outer suburbs developed rapidly during the 1990s.[4]


For a chronological guide, see Timeline of Bari.


Bari itself known in antiquity as Barium, was a harbour of the Iapygian Peuceti.[5][6] The authors of the Etymologicum Magnum have preserved an etymology by authors of antiquity about Barium, which they explain as the word "house" in Messapic.[7] The city had strong Greek influences before the Roman era.[8] In ancient Greek, it was known as Βάριον. In the 3rd century BC, it became part of the Roman Republic and was subsequently Romanized. The city developed strategic significance as the point of junction between the coast road and the Via Traiana and as a port for eastward trade; a branch road to Tarentum led from Barium. Its harbour, mentioned as early as 181 BC, was probably the principal one of the districts in ancient times, as it is at present, and was the centre of a fishery.[9] The first historical bishop of Bari was Gervasius who was noted at the Council of Sardica in 347.[10]

Middle Ages

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, it was invaded by Barbarians and occupied by the Ostrogoths. It was taken from them by the Byzantine Empire during the Gothic wars and disputed for the following two centuries with the Lombards of the Duchy of Benevento, who made it a steward.[11]

Throughout this period, and indeed throughout the Middle Ages, Bari served as one of the major slave depots of the Mediterranean, providing a central location for the trade in Slavic slaves.[12] The slaves were mostly captured by Venice from Dalmatia, by the Holy Roman Empire from what is now Eastern Germany and Poland, and by the Byzantines from elsewhere in the Balkans, and were generally destined for other parts of the Byzantine Empire and (most frequently) the Muslim states surrounding the Mediterranean: the Abbasid Caliphate, the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba, the Emirate of Sicily, and the Fatimid Caliphate (which relied on Slavs purchased at the Bari market for its legions of Sakalaba Mamluks).[13]

For 20 years, Bari was the centre of the Emirate of Bari; the city was captured by its first emirs Kalfun in 847, who had been part of the mercenary garrison installed there by Radelchis I of Benevento.[14] The city was conquered and the emirate extinguished in 871 following five-year campaign by Frankish Emperor Louis II, assisted by a Byzantine fleet.[15] Chris Wickham states Louis spent five years campaigning to reduce then occupy Bari, "and then only to a Byzantine/Slav naval blockade"; "Louis took the credit" for the success, adding "at least in Frankish eyes", then concludes by noting that by remaining in southern Italy long after this success, he "achieved the near-impossible: an alliance against him of the Beneventans, Salernitans, Neapolitans and Spoletans; later sources include Sawadān as well."[14] In 885, Bari became the residence of the local Byzantine catapan, or governor. The failed revolt (1009–1011) of the Lombard nobles Melus of Bari and his brother-in-law Dattus, against the Byzantine governorate, though it was firmly repressed at the Battle of Cannae (1018), offered their Norman adventurer allies a first foothold in the region.[citation needed] In 1025, under the Archbishop Byzantius, Bari became attached to the see of Rome and was granted "provincial" status.[16]

In 1071, Bari was captured by Robert Guiscard, following a three-year siege, ending what remained of the Byzantine power in the region.[17]

In 1095, Peter the Hermit preached the first crusade there.[9] In October 1098, Urban II, who had consecrated the Basilica in 1089, convened the Council of Bari, one of a series of synods convoked with the intention of reconciling the Eastern and Western Church on the question of the filioque clause in the Creed, which Anselm ably defended, seated at the pope's side.[18]

Early modern period

19th century image of the port of Bari.

A long period of decline characterized the city under the dominations of Aldoino Filangieri di Candida, and those of the Kings of Naples, which held the control of the entire mainland Southern Italy from 1282 to 1806. This decline was interrupted, however, by the splendor under the Sforzas, first with the dukes Ludovico and Beatrice d'Este, then with the duchesses Isabella of Aragon and Bona Sforza. Bari also underwent Venetian domination, which led to the expansion of the port and a very prosperous period, also favored by the trade of inland products, which were in great demand on foreign markets.[19][20]

In 1556, Princess Bona Sforza of Aragon, second wife of the King of Poland Sigismund I, left Poland and settled in Bari, whose principality she had inherited from her parents. During her reign, she fortified the city's castle, as evidenced by an inscription in bronze letters on the cornice around the courtyard, as well as building several churches, a monastery, two water cisterns and made many donations to the monks of the Basilica of San Nicola. Bona Sforza died in the city in 1557.[20] Following her death, the city of Bari came under the direct rule of the kings of Naples.[21]

In 1813, Joachim Murat, King of Naples in the Napoleonic era, began a new urbanization, changing the face of the city and setting a new "chessboard" growth model, which continued for many years to come. The village built at the time on the outskirts of the old city still retains its name.[22]

Modern plumbing arrived in the city of Bari on 24 April 1915: it was the first cry of the Apulian Aqueduct. During the 1930s, Araldo di Crollalanza, the mayor and minister of Bari, oversaw the development of its modern waterfront.[23]

World War II

On 11 September 1943, in connection with the Armistice of Cassibile, Bari was taken without resistance by the British 1st Airborne Division[citation needed], then during October and November 1943, New Zealand troops from the 2nd New Zealand Division assembled in Bari.[24]

The Balkan Air Force supporting the Yugoslav partisans was based at Bari.[citation needed]

The 1943 chemical warfare disaster

Further information: Air raid on Bari

Through a tragic coincidence intended by neither of the opposing sides in World War II, Bari gained the unwelcome distinction of being the only European city in the course of that war to experience effects like those of chemical warfare.[citation needed]

On the night of 2 December 1943, 105 German Junkers Ju 88 bombers attacked the port of Bari, which was a key supply centre for Allied forces fighting their way up the Italian Peninsula. Over 20 Allied ships were sunk in the overcrowded harbour, including the U.S. Liberty ship John Harvey, which was carrying mustard gas; mustard gas was also reported to have been stacked on the quayside awaiting transport (the chemical agent was intended for retaliation if German forces had initiated chemical warfare). The presence of the gas was highly classified and the U.S. had not informed the British military authorities in the city of its existence.[citation needed] This increased the number of fatalities, since British physicians—who had no idea that they were dealing with the effects of mustard gas—prescribed treatment proper for those suffering from exposure and immersion, which proved fatal in many cases. Because rescuers were unaware they were dealing with gas casualties, many additional casualties were caused among the rescuers, through contact with the contaminated skin and clothing of those more directly exposed to the gas.[25][citation needed]

Following the attack, the harbor was closed for operations for three weeks and it did not return to full capacity until February 1944.[citation needed]

A member of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's medical staff, Stewart F. Alexander, was dispatched to Bari following the raid. Alexander had trained at the Army's Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland,[26][citation needed] and was familiar with some of the effects of mustard gas. Although he was not informed of the cargo carried by the John Harvey, and most victims suffered atypical symptoms caused by exposure to mustard diluted in water and oil (as opposed to airborne), Alexander rapidly concluded that mustard gas was present. Although he could not get any acknowledgement of this from the chain of command, Alexander convinced medical staffs to treat patients for mustard exposure and saved many lives as a result. He also preserved many tissue samples from autopsied victims at Bari. After World War II, these samples would result in the development of an early form of chemotherapy based on mustard, Mustine.[27]

On the orders of Allied leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Eisenhower, records were destroyed and the whole affair was kept secret for many years after the war. The U.S. records of the attack were declassified in 1959, but the episode remained obscure until 1967, when writer Glenn B. Infield exposed the story in his book Disaster at Bari.[27] Additionally, there is considerable dispute as to the exact number of fatalities. In one account: "[S]ixty-nine deaths were attributed in whole or in part to the mustard gas, most of them American merchant seamen".[28] Others put the count as high as "more than one thousand Allied servicemen and more than one thousand Italian civilians".[29]

Part of the confusion and controversy derives from the fact that the German attack, which became nicknamed "The Little Pearl Harbor"[citation needed] after the Japanese air attack on the American naval base in Hawaii, was highly destructive in itself, apart from the effects of the gas. Attribution of the causes of death to the gas, as distinct from the direct effects of the German attack, has proved far from easy.[citation needed]

The affair is the subject of two books: the aforementioned Disaster at Bari, by Glenn B. Infield, and Nightmare in Bari: The World War II Liberty Ship Poison Gas Disaster and Coverup, by Gerald Reminick.

In 1988, through the efforts of Nick T. Spark, U.S. Senators Dennis DeConcini and Bill Bradley, Stewart Alexander received recognition from the Surgeon General of the United States Army for his actions during the Bari disaster.[30]

Charles Henderson explosion

The port of Bari was again struck by disaster on 9 April 1945 when the Liberty ship Charles Henderson exploded in the harbour while offloading 2,000 tons of aerial bombs (half of that amount had been offloaded when the explosion occurred). Three hundred and sixty people were killed and 1,730 were wounded. The harbour was again rendered non-operational, this time for a month.


Bari is the largest urban and metro area on the Adriatic. It is located in Southern Italy, at a more northerly latitude than Naples, further south than Rome.


Bari has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) bordering on a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) with mild winters and hot, dry summers.

Climate data for Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1932–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 12.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 4.1
Record low °C (°F) −7.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 50.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.4 5.6 6.5 6.0 4.5 3.0 1.9 2.3 4.8 5.5 7.0 7.0 61.4
Average relative humidity (%) 71.8 69.7 69.1 67.8 66.3 64.2 60.4 63.3 68.3 73.2 74.9 73.1 68.5
Source 1: NOAA[31]
Source 2: Servizio Meteorologico (extremes)[32]


Municipi of Bari

Bari is divided into five municipalities (Municipi), constituted in 2014.[33] The municipality is also divided into 17 official neighbourhoods ("quartieri").[34]

Codice Nome Area Abitanti
1 Municipio 1 24.07 km2 113,378
2 Municipio 2 15.44 km2 91,303
3 Municipio 3 22.51 km2 50,742
4 Municipio 4 33.16 km2 38,566
5 Municipio 5 21.56 km2 30,209

Architectural landmarks

Old town view at sunset
Teatro Margherita
The Teatro Piccinni in Bari
A view of the old port of Bari

Basilica of Saint Nicholas

St. Nicholas Basilica

The Basilica di San Nicola (Saint Nicholas) was founded in 1087 to receive the relics of this saint, which were brought from Myra in Lycia, and now lie beneath the altar in the crypt. The church is one of the four Palatine churches of Apulia (the others being the cathedrals of Acquaviva delle Fonti and Altamura, and the church of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano).[9]

Bari Cathedral

Bari Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Sabinus of Canosa (San Sabino), was begun in Byzantine style in 1034, but was destroyed in the sack of the city of 1156. A new building was thus built between 1170 and 1178, partially inspired by that of San Nicola. Of the original edifice, only traces of the pavement are today visible in the transept.

Petruzzelli Theatre

The Petruzzelli Theatre, founded in 1903, hosted different forms of live entertainment, or nineteenth century "Politeama". The theatre was all but destroyed in a fire on October 27, 1991. It was reopened in October 2009, after 18 years.

Swabian Castle

See also: Castello Svevo

Swabian Castle
Swabian Castle
The Old Town as seen from the sea
The Old Town as seen from the Swabian Castle

The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, widely known as the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle), was built by Roger II of Sicily around 1131. Destroyed in 1156, it was rebuilt by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The castle now serves as a gallery for a variety of temporary exhibitions in the city.

Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari

The Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari (Provincial Picture Gallery of Bari) is the most important art gallery in Apulia. It was first established in 1928 and contains many paintings from the 15th century up to the days of contemporary art.

The Russian Church

The Russian Church of Saint Nicholas, in the Carrassi district of Bari, was built in the early 20th century to welcome Russian pilgrims who came to the city to visit the church of Saint Nicholas in the old city where the relics of the saint remain.

The city council and Italian national government were recently[when?] involved in a trade-off with the Putin government in Moscow, exchanging the piece of land on which the church stands, for, albeit indirectly, a military barracks near Bari's central railway station.[citation needed]


Barivecchia, or Old Bari, is a sprawl of streets and passageways making up the section of the city to the north of the modern Murat area. A large-scale redevelopment plan began with a new sewerage system, followed by the development of the two main squares, Piazza Mercantile and Piazza Ferrarese.


Historical population
Source: ISTAT

As of 2019, there were 316,491 people residing in Bari (about 1.6 million lived in the greater Bari area in 2015), located in the province of Bari, Apulia, of whom 47.9% were male and 52.1% were female.[35] As of 2007, minors (children ages 18 and younger) totaled 17.90 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 19.08 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Bari residents is 42 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Bari grew by 2.69 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent.[36] The current birth rate of Bari is 8.67 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.[37]

As of 2015, 3.8% of the population was foreign residents.[38]

Residents by Region Residents by Nationality
Central / Eastern Europe 2,047
European Union 1,983
Western Asia 1,948
South / Central Asia 1,732
East Africa 1,486
East Asia 1,343
West Africa 1,000
North Africa 492
South / Central America 368
North America 54
South / Central Africa 22
Georgia 1,664
Albania 1,390
Romania 1,171
Bangladesh 828
China 731
Mauritius 689
Philippines 561
Nigeria 474
Pakistan 353
India 300
Somalia 291


According to an urban migration study in Bari, return migration gain to urban areas is higher than migration loss from urban areas. People migrating from urban destinations tend to migrate to different places in comparison to people migrating from rural areas. These findings are based on the background and behavior of a sample of 211 return migrants to Bari, Italy. Bari is a port city, making it historically important because of its strong trade links with Greece, North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. Bari's economic structure is based on industry, commerce, services, and administration. Around two-thirds of the city's employment is in the tertiary sector with its port, commerce, and administrative functions. The highest percentage of Bari's working population is employed in services, with 45.6%. From 1958 to 1982, around 20% of migrants left Bari for other Italian communes, while around 17% or migrants came to Bari from other Italian communes. Under 2% of migrants left Bari to go abroad and came to the city from abroad.[39]


Fiera del Levante

The Fiera del Levante, held in September in the Fiera site on the west side of Bari city center, focuses on agriculture and industry. There is also a "Fair of Nations" which displays handcrafted and locally produced goods from all over the world.

Cuisine and gastronomy

A dish of orecchiette

Bari's cuisine is based on three typical agricultural products found within the surrounding region of Apulia, namely wheat, olive oil and wine.[citation needed] The local cuisine is also enriched by the wide variety of fruit and vegetables produced locally. Local flour is used in homemade bread and pasta production including, most notably, the famous orecchiette ear-shaped pasta, recchietelle or strascinate, chiancarelle (orecchiette of different sizes) and cavatelli.[citation needed]

Homemade dough is also used for baked calzoni stuffed with onions, anchovies, capers, olives, etc.; fried panzerotti with mozzarella and/or ricotta forte; focaccia alla barese with tomatoes, olives and oregano; little savoury taralli, and larger friselle; and sgagliozze, fried slices of polenta; all making up the Barese culinary repertoire.[citation needed]

Vegetable minestrone, chick peas, broad beans, chicory, celery and fennel are also often served as first courses or side dishes.[citation needed]

Meat dishes and the local Barese ragù often include lamb and pork.[citation needed] Pasta al forno, a baked pasta dish, is very popular in Bari and was historically a Sunday dish, or a dish used at the start of Lent when all the rich ingredients such as eggs and pork had to be used for religious reasons. The recipe commonly consists of penne or similar tubular pasta shapes, a tomato sauce, small beef and pork meatballs and halved hard-boiled eggs. The pasta is then topped with mozzarella or similar cheese and then baked in the oven to make the dish have its trademark crispy texture.[citation needed]

Another popular pasta dish is the spaghetti all'assassina. It is a slightly crunchy spaghetti dish, cooked in an iron pan with garlic, olive oil, chili pepper, tomato sauce and tomato broth.[40]

Fresh fish and seafood are often eaten raw. Octopus, sea urchins and mussels feature heavily. Perhaps Bari's most famous dish is the oven-baked patate, riso e cozze (potatoes with rice and mussels).

Bari and the whole Apulian region have a range of wines, including Primitivo, Castel del Monte, and Muscat, notably Moscato di Trani.[citation needed]


Main article: Bari dialect

The dialect of Bari belongs to the upper-southern Italo-Romance family, and currently coexists with Italian; generally these are used in different contexts. [citation needed]


See also: History of SSC Bari

Stadio San Nicola

Local football club S.S.C. Bari, currently competing in Serie B (as of the 2022–2023 season), plays in the Stadio San Nicola, an architecturally innovative 58,000-seater stadium purpose-built for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The stadium also hosted the 1991 European Cup final.

In 2007, Bari hosted the first and only world games for underwater sports.



Bari Central Station

Bari has its own airport, Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport, which is located 8 km (5.0 mi) northwest of the centre of Bari. It is connected to the centre by train services from Bari Aeroporto railway station.

Bari Central Station lies on the Adriatic railway and has connection to cities such as Rome, Milan, Bologna, Turin and Venice. Another mainline is connection southwards by the Bari-Taranto railway. The Bari metropolitan railway service operates local commuter services; while regional services also operate to Foggia, Barletta, Brindisi, Lecce, Taranto and other towns and villages in the Apulia region.

Bari has an old fishery port (Porto Vecchio) and a so-called new port in the north, as well as some marinas. The Port of Bari is an important cargo transport hub to Southeast Europe. Various passenger transport lines include some seasonal ferry lines to Albania, Montenegro or Dubrovnik. Bari – Igoumenitsa is a popular ferry route to Greece. Some cruise ships call at Bari.

In popular culture

The Guido Guerrieri novels by Gianrico Carofiglio are set in Bari, where Guerrieri is a criminal lawyer, and include many descriptions of the town.

Bari is one of the primary settings of the detective novel The Black Mountain by Rex Stout. It is the characters' point of embarkation to Communist Yugoslavia.

In the 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County, Italian housewife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), is mentioned as being from Bari and growing up in Naples.

The 2020 Edoardo Ponti film La vita davanti a sé, starring Sophia Loren, is set in Bari.

Notable people

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Italy

Bari is twinned with:[41]

See also


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  14. ^ a b Chris Wickham (1981). Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400–1000. Totowa: Barnes and Noble. pp. 62, 154. ISBN 978-0-389-20217-2.
  15. ^ Krueger, Hilmar C. (1969) [1955]. "The Italian Cities and the Arabs before 1095". In Setton, Kenneth M.; Baldwin, Marshall W. (eds.). A History of the Crusades, Volume I: The First Hundred Years (Second ed.). Madison, Milwaukee, and London: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 48. ISBN 0-299-04834-9.
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Further reading