Bari, Italy, is part of Puglia, which forms the heel of the Italian "boot" on the Adriatic coast about 300 mi/485 km southeast of Rome.

The city is divided into medieval and modern sections and provides enough to make a two-night visit rewarding, although most tourists pass through on their way to ferries for Croatia and Greece.

Among the sights are the 12th-century cathedral and museum; the impressive Swabian castle, Castello Svevo (a conglomeration of Roman and Norman fortifications, topped off with 16th-century towers); and the 11th-century Basilica of San Nicola (the final resting place for the bones of St. Nicholas, alias "Father Christmas"). Spend time walking the intriguing narrow streets of the medieval section, Bari Vecchia.

Not far away are two other attractions. The Castellana Grottoes are a large network of limestone caves, 30 mi/48 km south. Tours are available, although the weather determines whether the grottoes are open in winter.

The odd trulli dwellings—ancient, seemingly enchanted, dazzling-white buildings with conical, stone roofs—are clustered in the village of Alberobello, just a few miles/kilometers farther south of Castellana. The design of these houses is unique to Puglia and cannot be traced to any other architectural tradition. Visit the Monti district for the best view—it has more than 1,000 whitewashed trulli topped with roofs of dark gray stone.

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