Cheap flights to Bari
For years the Italians have kept Bari and the region of Puglia a secret from the rest of the world. Clap eyes on this stunning part of Italy’s rural south and you’ll instantly see why.
Bari might not spring to mind as a top holiday destination, but the surrounding area of Puglia with its rural charm certainly should. And while Bari is the gateway to this sunny strip that makes up Italy’s heel, don’t fall into the trap of just passing through.
This seaside city with its Swabian Castle looking on has its own surprises in store. Quaint and surprisingly chic, Bari boasts increasingly upmarket bars and restaurants and is home to the bones of St Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus. Summer or winter, it’s an old town certainly worthy of a city break.
Bari's old town is a maze of alleys, churches, homes and shrines, where woman still make pasta in their kitchens with the windows flung open, and old men gather on tiny stools to explain why the modern world is rubbish. Join a Free Walking Tour (www.freewalkingtourbari.it) to get the best out of it.
You'll be wading through jazz if you visit Bari before 28 July, with the entire waterside city turning into an open air stage for the annual jazz festival. The progamme features both Italian jazzists and bands from overseas. For more information visit www.bariinjazz.it.
Castel Del Monte looks more like an oversized Lego block than a castle, which is why it's a brilliant castle. Make sure to grab a guide, because the madness of the design is only part of the appeal and most of the secrets are hidden within the building itself. Piazza Federico II di Svevia, www.casteldelmonte.beniculturali.it
If you're feeling old, a trip to The Grotte di Castellana could be just the thing. These caves date back 90 million years and the rock formations are so odd you'll swear you're underwater at some points. The tour covers 3km and reaches a depth of 60m, but lit paths remove the need for spelunking gear. For more information visit grottedicastellana.it.
The Parco Nazionale dell'Alta Murgia is a timeline of Italian history, its miles of flatland and long
swaying grass dotted with ruins that cover ancient cave dwellings all the way through to Mussolini's box architecture. Hiking boots or bicycles recommended. Via Firenze 10, www.parcoaltamurgia.gov.it
Here's our advice for visiting Alberobello: just go! Don't look at any pictures first, don't do any research on the internet. Don't talk to anybody about it, or even imagine it beforehand. Just take that feeling of blind expectation, and exchange it for lovely lovely joy when you get there. Actually, you should probably take a book, too. Alberobello is 60km from Bari, and expectation can only entertain you so much.