The port of Bari lies on the Adriatic coast of Italy roughly halfway between the extreme ‘heel’ of the peninsula at Santa Maria de Leuca and the
‘spur’ of the peninsula at Vieste on the Gargano promontory. The capital of the Apulia region, Bari is southern Italy’s most important city after Naples.
During the Roman period, Bari rivalled Brindisi as one of the most important outlets for trade with the eastern empire. Later, under Byzantine rule, Bari was one of the major slave trading outlets in the Western Mediterranean, shipping hundreds of thousands of captives to markets among the Muslim states of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Normans under Robert Guiscard subsequently captured the port in 1071 and soon after began the construction of the magnificent Basilica of St Nicholas to receive the remains of the eponymous saint. The relics had been ‘rescued’ from the city of Myra in what is now modern Turkey by local merchants to ‘save’ them from the clutches of the Selcuk Turkish forces then threatening the eastern borders of the Byzantine empire.
It was also under Norman rule that work began on the city’s so-called Castello Svevo, subsequently enlarged in the 16th century to its present impressive size. Today Bari is an important shipping and passenger port, with regular ferries to Dubrovnik in Croatia and several Greek ports. Its Porto Vecchio (smaller vessels up to 12 metres) and Porto Nuovo (vessels up to 100 metres) both offer berthing opportunities to yachts in transit along the Adriatic coast or arriving from/departing to Croatia.