While most visitors to Puglia steer clear of Bari (unless they are hopping a ferry to Croatia or Greece), I am quite fond of the city. Like Naples, it has a reputation for petty theft and some violent crime, which keeps it from being exploited by mass tourism. Maybe I’m just bolder (or more oblivious) than most, but I have always felt safe in the city. Its centro storico is full of atmosphere, especially after dark when baresi flock to Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Mercantile for a stroll.

You can read all about the “must sees” in a guide book but one place that is NOT to be missed is off the tourist radar. It is Panificio Fiore at Strada Palazzo di Citta’ 38, just southeast of the Basilica di San Nicola. Here, pizza barese, the local focaccia, is the protagonist. It is no less than 2 inches thick and the top is garnished with tomatoes and olives, while the bottom is saturated in olive oil yet slightly crunchy. Magical. And all for 1.50 euro.

Panificio Fiore is open 10am-1pm & 4-8pm (Closed Sun & Wed morning)