Arriving into Bari by train it takes about 15 min from the train station to the old city. This is the place to be if would like to get lost walking narrow cobble streets typical of old South Italian cities and taste great sea food in family run trattorias. I can only recommend to make here your base for exploring this city and it’s sea front.
For the passeggiata ( the evening walk) head to piazza Mercantile. This is also home to a few good restaurants – we liked the Cecchina’s antipasto and tuna stake.
After Bari, it is the Unesco Heritage city of Matera our next overnight. Transport is fairly straightforward by FAP Bus from via Capruzzi in Bari. Normally there is a train linking Bari and Matera but not on Sunday. Count 1h45 and about 5 euro per person in a large, aircon bus.
Old Matera looks a bit eerie at first, with houses stacked on top of other houses giving a beehive look. As the main attraction of the city are the sassi, we choose an atmospheric hotel called Palazzo degli Abati, in the Sasso Barisano district. It is close to everything ( the old city is not that big anyway) and the owner took more than an hour to explain to us the history of this old dwelling.
If you have one full day in Matera go for a circuit of a few rupestran caves ( we chose San Pietro Caveoso, Santa Maria d’Irdis and Santa Maria alle Malve) with more than 100 to choose from. Casa-grotto di vico Solitario is also a must see to get a view of how locals lived up until mid-1900. Finally, the city water cistern at Palombaro lungo is a fascinating trip underground.
For food, book osteria Pico. I had the best antipasto so far in this place in via Forenttini. You will fall love with real mozzarella and try to devise ways to smuggle it in your country as fresh as possible. It has nothing to do with the stuff you buy in supermarkets, I tell you.