Barletta is part of a capoluogo (administrative district) together with the smaller cities of Andria, Trani and Apulia. Located in the south-eastern region of Italy, this commune sits directly on the coast facing the Adriatic Sea and the Gulf of Manfredonia. With a population of 94,000, it is one of the largest communes in the Barletta-Andria-Trani province and has an economy based on the production of concrete, and also agriculture. Surrounded by the sea on one side, the rest of Barletta is surrounded by vast expanses of farmland that spread throughout the countryside.
In ancient times, Barletta was founded before Roman and Greek conquests and records date its settlement as far back as the 4th century BC. Throughout the commune’s history, it has served as a staging post for the crusades has been part of the Holy Roman Empire, and its citizens have suffered from an outbreak of cholera during the 1800’s. Today Barletta has a healthy mix of tourist attractions, fine stretches of beach, and historical architecture making it a great place to visit.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Barletta:
1. Castello Svevo di Barletta
This ancient castle lies in the heart of Barletta and was originally constructed in the Norman conquests of Italy during the 11th century.
Over the preceding years, the castle has taken many shapes and forms but has remained an important defensive structure throughout the city’s history.
This impressive castle is undoubtedly the most impressive structure in the city and is an absolute must-see! The structure features a symmetrical design with four identical diamond shaped towers and a main entrance accessible only by an arched footbridge.
It is possible to take a tour of the castle and you can walk along the battlements and look out across the sea and into the city of Barletta.
You can also walk through several of the castles interior rooms and underground passages.
2. Basilica del Santo Sepolcro
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre should not be confused with the same religious building in Jerusalem, but it does hold close ties with the Holy Land.
Located on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, this church is the main religious structure of Barletta and features some fantastic architecture.
The exterior has a Gothic style that features a series of arches, and a small white washed bell tower.
Inside the church the walls have been left exposed and feature a myriad of stone arches that support the ceiling.
Although understated inside, the decoration is tasteful and the white stone walls and ceiling make the church extremely light and welcoming.
3. Teatro Curci
Italy has a plethora of world class opera houses and theatres and the Teatro Curci is certainly up there among the best.
This structure is located in the heart of the city centre and is an important cultural building for the residents of Barletta.
Created in 1868, the theatre has a decadent front façade that looks more like a royal palace than a place of music and dramatics.
Furthermore, the interior is truly amazing and has all the trappings of a typical 19th century opera house.
The auditorium is full of red velvet, gold trimmings and beautiful lighting.
Four levels of private boxes run in a semi-circle and the domed ceiling is adorned with delightful artwork.
The theatre runs a range of shows and a performance here is something not to be missed.
4. Colosso di Barletta
Legend has it that this immense bronze statue washed up on the shore of Barletta during the 13th century from a Venetian ship returning from the Fourth Crusade.
Standing at 5.11 metres, this huge statue is approximately three times the size of a human and depicts an unknown Roman emperor.
Many scholars and historians have guessed at the identity of the statue and likely candidates include Theodosius, Honorius and Leo I the Thracian.
Standing resolute outside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, this statue has come to symbolise Barletta and is a treasured artefact.
5. Lungomare Pietro Mennea
Behind the Lido di Barletta is the long stretch of promenade that provides a great venue to enjoy an evening stroll as the sun sets.
If you so wish, you could start your walk on the Lungomare Turistico which is located on the right hand side of the harbour.
From here, you can pass the impressive Castello Svevo and the small harbour and onto the Lungomare Pietro Mennea.
At the start of this promenade on the left hand side, a fairground is sometimes held that features typical carnival style games and rides.
As you walk further, you can take in the fantastic sea views and enjoy the shade of the palm trees.
Alternatively, you can opt to head into one of the beach bars and have a drink or a snack.
6. Lido di Barletta
Due to its coastal location, Barletta is privy to an amazing stretch of beach that is the perfect place to relax and sunbathe.
The beach stretches from the left hand side of the port and pier and continues for several kilometres until it eventually dissipates further up the coast.
On this beach you can find a variety of different facilities including sun loungers and parasols.
Furthermore, there is a range of different beach bars, each with their own private stretch of beach facing onto the sea.
If you grow tired of the beach, you can always explore the harbour and watch the fishing and sailing boats going about their daily business.
7. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Maggiore
More commonly known as Barletta Cathedral, this religious structure is one of the most important in the city and is located to the east of the historic city centre.
The front façade has a large rose window and an ornate main door with a decorative pediment.
At the side of the church is a large bell tower that features three different levels of bronze bells.
As the church was modified over time, it features both Romanesque and Gothic elements.
Inside, the cathedral has a myriad of detailed medieval decoration including sculptures of monsters and animals.
8. Museo Civico e Pinacoteca
This fantastic museum is actually located within the confines of the Castello Svevo and holds some important relics and artefacts relating to the history of the region.
Whilst taking a tour of the castle, you simply cannot pass up on a chance to explore this museum.
Inside this establishment there are three different sections; the Ancient gallery, the 19th century gallery and the Gallery of Ferdinand Cafiero.
Each section contains different artefacts and artwork from its respective era, mainly from artists local to the region.
The final gallery contains a variety of objects including ceramics, terracotta, engravings and manuscripts.
For an interesting insight into the art and culture of this region, there is no better place to visit.
9. Visit the city of Andria
Andria is part of the same province as Barletta and has a myriad of its own historical and touristic attractions.
You can reach this charming commune in just 40 minutes from the coast.
As this city was actually the residence of the Emperor Frederick II, Andria features a series of beautiful structures such as the Castel del Monte, the Ducal Palace, the Church of San Domenico and the ornate Porta Santa Andrea.
Furthermore the city has several beautiful Piazzas and some delightful twisting and turning old streets to explore.
If you grow tired of the golden beaches of Barletta then consider a cultural trip to Andria!
10. Enjoy a fine Italian meal at the Al Vecchio Forno restaurant
The Al Vecchio Forno restaurant is a fine establishment and an evening here is guaranteed to be a memorable one! Located on the Via Cialdini, this restaurant has a fantastic atmosphere and extremely friendly staff.
What makes this establishment unique is the fact that there is no set menu – you literally sit down at a table and the staff will bring you a wide selection of different dishes to try.
Depending on how much you can eat and how adventurous you are you can try over 15 different plates including a great variety of seafood, antipasto and meat.
11. Visit the ancient city of Cannae
Cannae is actually one of the most significant ancient sites in Italy and is a village where the legendary Battle of Cannae took place.
This battle saw the Roman army suffer a horrific defeat at the hands of Hannibal during the Punic Wars.
The Romans took reported losses of 70,000 troops and this had a huge effect of the balance of power in the Mediterranean.
Today at Cannae, you can see the ancient remains of the village such as the foundations of the buildings and city walls.
Furthermore, there is a commemorative marker that represents where the battle was held together with various information boards and factual displays.
12. Enjoy a selection of seafood at the Antica Cucina 1983 restaurant
Another delightful restaurant that offers amazing quality seafood and authentic Italian dishes is the Antica Cucina 1983 restaurant.
This establishment can be found in the northern part of the old town near Castel Svevo.
Whilst Al Vecchio Forno has no set menu, the Antica Cucina is quite different and offers a selection of set meals.
Choose from a range of sublime Italian pasta dishes and some beautifully presented seafood.
This restaurant speaks of sophistication and also has a great choice of wines to accompany your delicious meal.
13. Visit the coastal town of Manfredonia
If you continue further up the coast you will eventually reach the fantastic town of Manfredonia.
The journey by car takes approximately 1 hour, but the town can also be reached via train that passes through Foggia.
Manfredonia has several pleasant beaches, some interesting piers and harbours and a stretch of promenade on the seafront.
The main attraction of this town however is the fantastic Castello Svevo Aragonese.
This impressive structure stands in a fantastic condition and is an interesting building to visit.
Behind the town is the immense Parco Nazionale del Gargano which is also a great place to explore, full of beautiful and dramatic landscapes.
14. Visit the neighbouring town of Trani
Further down the coast from Barletta is the neighbouring town of Trani.
A regular train service actually runs between these two destinations every 7 minutes and the journey takes just 17 minutes.
Trani is a beautiful coastal town with an extensive history spanning back to the 11th century when it was a major Adriatic port.
You can still walk around the towns beautiful harbour and see the variety of fishing and sailing boats.
Furthermore, the beautiful Basilica di San Nicola stands out on the sea front and is an icon of the city with its immense bell tower and white washed façade.
This beautiful town offers a change of scenery and has a great amount of attractions to explore.
15. Church of San Giacomo
The Cautious Preposition of St. James church is one of the oldest in Barletta and is a strange structure not quite like anything else in the region.
In the centre of the front facade there is a strange obelisk adorned with a crucifix and a set of 5 entrance doors into the building.
Inside the church there is a plethora of beautiful religious decoration including the opulent chapel of the sacred heart.
Constructed in the 18th century, this building is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the city.