Bari is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas. The city itself has a population of about 326,799, as of 2015, over 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi), while the urban area has 700,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area has 1.3 million inhabitants.
Bari is made up of four different urban sections. To the north is the closely built old town on the peninsula between two modern harbours, with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Cathedral of San Sabino (1035–1171) and the Hohenstaufen Castle built for Frederick II, which is now also a major nightlife district. To the south is the Murat quarter (erected by Joachim Murat), the modern heart of the city, which is laid out on a rectangular grid-plan with a promenade on the sea and the major shopping district (the via Sparano and via Argiro).
Modern residential zones surrounding the centre of Bari were built during the 1960s and 1970s replacing the old suburbs that had developed along roads splaying outwards from gates in the city walls. In addition, the outer suburbs developed rapidly during the 1990s. The city has a redeveloped airport named after Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyła Airport, with connections to several European cities.
The city was probably founded by the Peucetii. Once it passed under Roman rule in the 3rd century BC, it developed strategic significance as the point of junction between the coast road and the Via Traiana and as a port for eastward trade; a branch road to Tarentum led from Barium. Its harbour, mentioned as early as 181 BC, was probably the principal one of the districts in ancient times, as it is at present, and was the centre of a fishery. The first historical bishop of Bari was Gervasius who was noted at the Council of Sardica in 347. The bishops were dependent on the Patriarch of Constantinople until the 10th century.
Bari is located on the Adriatic coastline, of which it is the largest urban and metro area. It is located in Southern Italy, but at a more northerly latitude than Naples, but further south than Rome. Bari enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers.
Bari's cuisine, one of Italy's most traditional and noteworthy, is based on three typical agricultural products found within the surrounding region of Apulia, namely wheat, olive oil and wine. The local cuisine is also enriched by the wide variety of fruit and vegetables produced locally. Local flour is used in homemade bread and pasta production including, most notably, the famous orecchiette ear-shaped pasta, recchietelle or strascinate, chiancarelle (orecchiette of different sizes) and cavatelli.
Homemade dough is also used for baked calzoni stuffed with onions, anchovies, capers and olives; fried panzerotti with mozzarella, simple focaccia alla barese with tomatoes, little savoury taralli, friselle and sgagliozze, fried slices of polenta all make up the Bari culinary reportoire.
Olive oil and garlic are widely in use. Vegetable minestrone, chick peas, broad beans, chickory, celery and fennel are also often served as first courses or side dishes.
Meat dishes and the local Barese ragù often include lamb and pork.
Pasta al forno, a baked pasta dish, is very popular in Bari and was historically a Sunday dish, or a dish used at the start of Lent when all the rich ingredients such as eggs and pork had to be used for religious reasons. The recipe commonly consists of penne or similar tubular pasta shapes, a tomato sauce, small beef and pork meatballs and halved hard boiled eggs; but different families have variations. The pasta is then topped with mozzarella or similar cheese and then baked in the oven to make the dish have its trademark crispy texture.
Bari, being the capital of an important fishing area, offers a range of fresh fish and seafood, often eaten raw. Octopus, sea urchins and mussels feature heavily. Indeed, perhaps Bari's most famous dish is the oven-baked Patate, riso e cozze (potatoes with rices and mussels).
Bari and its metropolitan city, as well as the whole Apulian region, have a range of wines, including Primitivo, Castel del Monte, and Muscat, notably Moscato di Trani.
In 2007, there were 325,052 people residing in Bari (about 1.6 million live in the greater Bari area), located in the province of Bari, Puglia, of whom 48.1% were male and 51.9% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totaled 17.90 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 19.08 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Bari residents is 42 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Bari grew by 2.69 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The current birth rate of Bari is 8.67 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006, 98.34% of the population was of Italian descent. The largest immigrant group came from other European nations (particularly those from Georgia and Albania): 0.68% and East Africa: 0.42%. Immigrants from North Africa and East Asia make up an even smaller portion of the population.