Bari is by the sea, so a walk by the sea along Bari’s seafront promenade is simply part of a stay in the city.
The old town of Bari is situated on a peninsula, the tip of which forms a kind of “border”. If you go east, you reach Bari’s seafront (Lungomare) and if you go west, you walk past the port facilities. Our discovery tour began in the port of Bar.
To get into the harbour area, you have to pass a small house with security guards. This is also where the cars go to the ferries on the grounds, pedestrians hardly ever go in there at all. When we asked if it was possible to walk to the lighthouse, there was a heated discussion and then it was decided that we could walk there. After 500 metres we reached the foot of the Molo Borbonico: it divides the bend of the sea into two basins, the Darsena di Ponente and the Darsena di Levante. The lighthouse stands at the end of the Molo Borbonico.
The small stone lighthouse in the port of Bari dates back to the 19th century, more precisely since 1887. Before that, only a mobile device stood there. However, the light was not sufficient and a merchant ship ran aground on a rock. The new tower was built a little higher and initially had an acetylene lamp. It consists of a base of curved white stone blocks interrupted by a few windows. The lighthouse is crowned by a glass dome with an aluminium cover and a white railing.
I have read that there is or was the possibility to visit the tower from the inside as part of a guided tour.
Originally, the lighthouse stood directly at the water’s edge, the extension of the quay was made later. A 19th century bollard still stands in front of the lighthouse, where ships once docked.
Every day, countless ships pass by the tower and to this day its red light shows captains the way into the city’s harbour.
On the coast from Bari on the way west
The footpath to the west leads along the fence of the harbour and the main road. To be honest, the path is less beautiful and in between we wanted to turn back several times if we hadn’t had the goal of wanting to see the city’s large lighthouse more closely.
The tower is located on the San Cataldo peninsula.
Faro di San Cataldo
At the Molo San Cataldo on the west side of the harbour stands the large Faro di San Cataldo.
Built in 1869, the tower is octagonal and 62 metres high. At the top is a two-storey keeper’s house with a balcony and a lantern. In former times, the lighthouse keeper had to climb 380 steps up here. Six windows face the sea. The light of the lighthouse shines 66 metres above sea level. Within 20 seconds, it emits three white flashes that can still be seen at a distance of over 40 kilometres. Today, the tower is operated fully automatically.
Side fact: The Faro di San Cataldo is said to be the 24th highest “traditional lighthouse” (whatever that means) in the world.
If you go past the lighthouse, you come straight back to the sea. We could watch rowing boats from the nearby clubs practising. Unfortunately, it was not yet dinner time, the restaurants directly on the water were still closed.
Rather by chance, we were drawn a little further to an imposing gate. Behind it was the Fiera del Levante, a trade fair and event site.
There are not only numerous exhibition buildings, but also the Bari Planetarium. In a central square with an impressive fountain is the Birrifico Bari brewery, where we had an excellent beer.
On the seafront in Bari
If you walk east along the pointed peninsula on which Bari’s old town is located, you will walk along one of the most beautiful seafront promenades in Italy and one of the longest seafront promenades in Europe. The Lungomare Imperatore Augusto was built in the first half of the 20th century and is one of Bari’s landmarks.
We started our walk along the sea at the wall leading to the port. After about 3 kilometres you then reach the beach Pane e Pomodore (Bread and Tomatoes). On sunny days it is almost unbearable, despite the sea breeze on the way. Shade is very rare here. I found our walk during a storm fantastically beautiful. Not only did the wind whistle around our noses, but the sea also slapped hard against the fortification walls at one point or another, and now and then we had to be careful not to get wet.
On the way, you will of course pass one or two interesting places and some beautiful viewpoints.
There are two fishing markets at the harbour. The first one was rather disappointing. Everything was closed and it didn’t look like anything was still being sold there. However, you could go up a staircase to the top of the building and have a nice view of the city.
The second fishermen’s market on the Molo San Nicola, directly on Bari’s seafront, is very small. Here the fishermen, who were out in their small boats, sell their wares. From sea urchins (I didn’t even know you could eat them) to squid, the offer ranged.
A fact on the side: the street lanterns on Bari’s seafront are beautiful. There are 197 lanterns that bathe the seashore in a unique light in the evening.