Private tours are a great and personal way to experience the historical capital of Bari at your own speed.
We booked our tour online through Get Your Guide and paid quite a bit less than the tour to Alberobello through RC. Our group (8 of us) arrived in Bari at noon on the Splendour of the Seas and met our guide, Catarina, outside the port terminal. We quickly found her and waited only for a couple minutes for another couple to join us for our day trip to Alberobello. With a total of 10 people on our tour, we really lucked out. The group size was very manageable and we had a nice small bus to ourselves with plenty of room (we saw the Royal Caribbean tours and they were 50+ people). We made it to Alberobello in about an hour and had a lovely tour around the town. Catarina was fantastic! She was full of knowledge about the Trulli and shared interesting stories while we strolled through the town. After the tour, we were left with about 45 minutes of free time which allowed us to eat paninis and gelato. On our way back to Bari, we took another road along the coast which was beautiful. We made a stop for those who wanted to see St. Nicholas' Basilica before the bus stopped at the port terminal. We decided to get off and see the church, but it didn't take long. Our walk back to the ship took about 10 minutes. Although we didn't spend much time in Bari, I'm glad we took a tour away from the city. It didn't look like there was much to do there.
Provider: Independent Operator
Bari, also known as the City of St, Nicholas is the second most important economic center in all of Italy, next to Naples. Founded in 181 B.C., Bari was a major fishing town and yet, a town in which exchanges from multiple other cities on the east coast of Italy were conducted. Up until the 10th century the town was dependent upon the Patriarch of Constantinople. After the devastating Gothic Wars, under Lombard rule a set of written regulations were established which influenced several other cities in the region. Bari continued to be ruled by the Byzantines until the Norman invasion. Bari soon became the most important port for slave trading with most of the slaves coming from Venice, Holy Roman Empire, and Dalmatia on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea.
As is the case with all of the other ports on this cruise, Bari has a history of occupation by a variety of occupiers from all over Europe including Istanbul, Byzantium, the Greeks, and Romans until civil war broke out in 1177. This lead to an alliance with the Lombards. The Lombarian ruler allowed opening up of trade with not only Venice but with Byzantium. Bari ultimately came under the rule of the Kingdom of Naples and one Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law who ordered the building of a new section of the city beginning in 1808. The new section was laid out in a grid plan which in turn provided stimulation to the city's economy. That section is called Murattiano in honor and recognition of Joachim Murat.
During World War II, the city acquired the unfortunate distinction of being the only city exposed to chemical warfare. As the allied forces advanced northward through Italy, the Americans were unloading canisters of mustard gas on the docks in Bari. At the same time German aircraft attacked the dock area releasing tons of mustard gas in the air. The attack was kept secret until 1959 when papers were released detailing the destruction. Reports indicate the deaths of more than 1000 U.S. servicemen and more than 1,000 Italian citizens of the area.
With Mindy's ankle causing her some issues we opted for the Celebrity shuttle into town but then figured she wouldn't be able to enjoy, much less walk, to all of the sites in this very large walled-city. Our second option was to take a taxi tour. In no time at all we found, or should I say he found us, a cab driver to take us to a unique community about 65km south of Bari. I don't have the name right now but it is a community, mainly shops, with roofs that appear almost like a Chinaman's hat. I assume there was a purpose for this type of construction but needless to say this is the only type of construction like this anywhere in the world.
Giacomo, our cab driver allowed us an hour of sightseeing and of course buying. Our first stop was a gift ship that freely gave out samples of everything they had to sell. We returned to them later, only because they were so nice, to buy a couple of dish towels. Big spenders! Further on we both had to use the toilets, WC, bathroom, or whatever you call it . We were a bit confused as to which was the men's and which the women's but shortly a little old lady appeared and pointed to the "donne" and had Mindy go in there. I went to the opposite room and found what I needed. Ready to exit, this sweet little old lady was saying something, put a wrap over Mindy's shoulders and told us something. For 10 euro Mindy could be the proud owner of a sweater/shawl pullover. Men don't know what those things are called. Because she was so sweet and so full of life we returned later to buy whatever it was the lady put over Mindy's shoulder.
On the return to the ship Giacomo, who spoke maybe 10 words of English drove us to a beautiful town by the Adriatic Sea to see an amazing beach as well as a town built out into the sea that is slowly being undermined by the very same sea it is built upon.
Because we were a little pressed for time, Giacomo drove us back to the ship where we said our goodbyes and thank you for a wonderful four hour tour. Did I tell you we were over 140kph for most of the drive? I also think his Italian is a little off as well for when the speed limit sign said "100kph" Giacomo tried to hit 100mph. Over here, speed bumps are known as speed jumps. I know passing on a hill or a curve is not only illegal but very dangerous. Giacomo used those areas for passing! I know he used his brakes at least seven times because you could hear the squeak every time he touched them. I was trying to put on my seatbelt but Giacomo said, "no, no, no. Not necessary". I know what he meant; at the speeds we were flying a seat belt or air bag would do no good.
We did make it back to the ship safely, albeit a little shaken after that drive.
Provider: Celebrity Cruises