On the Waterfront in Bari

The essence of Bari is the sea

Bari is the Puglia region’s largest city and capital of the Province of Bari located along the Adriatic coast. Coastal towns in the province, such as Polignano a Mare, invite vacationers and locals alike to enjoy the beaches, cliffside cafes, and sea views. The sea also provides Bari’s fishermen abundant supply for providing fresh seafood at markets along the waterfront for homes and restaurants making Bari an important fishing area of Puglia and therefore of Italy.

Mr. TWS and I were fortunate to be introduced to a few highlights of the Bari coastline and way of life by Carlo Romano, our cheerful and enthusiastic guide during our Puglia road trip. On the way to our last night’s accommodations at the Sheraton Nicolaus Bari, Carlo drove us along the waterfront of his hometown of Triggiano, near the city of Bari. He pointed out sights along the way and the scenes of everyday life away from the tourist attractions. This took us past small beaches in residential neighborhoods and the commercial fishing harbor to get a first-hand look at the importance of fishing to the area.

"Fishermen tenderizing octopuses on the rocks in Bari"

Fisherman tenderizing freshly-caught octopuses

We passed local fishermen tenderizing the octopuses by slinging them on the rocks. During the process, they dip them into the sea water and when they see foam, they know they’re ready.

During our visit to Puglia, Carlo’s knowledge about and pride in the region was evident. Now, in his own neighborhood amongst friends who greeted him with waves as we went by, those traits were even more apparent. We stopped at Pescheria dal Nonno, a pescheria (fish market) where Carlo goes about every other day to buy fresh fish since it is close to his home.

"Fish vendor at Pescheria del Nonno in Triggiano near Bari, Italy"

Pescheria dal Nonno

Everyone knows Carlo around here and we met a few of his friends at the pescheria which was a scene of diverse and plentiful fresh seafood just caught within a stone’s throw of the market. In the photo above the market owner is holding a large scampi with a lobster-like claw that is common to the area.

"Opening black mussel shells at a fish market in Triggiano, Italy"

Opening the black mussels

Black mussels were often served at the meals we enjoyed in Puglia. We were amazed at the number of them here at the market being cleaned in the photo above. We were also impressed at the speed and skill with which they are opened.

Carlo sampled raw black mussels, closing his eyes while savoring the flavor. However, he cautioned seafood lover, Mr. TWS, not to join him since he wasn’t used to it and could have an adverse reaction. Mr. TWS knew better than to go against such experienced advice.

"Scorfano (Red Scorpionfish) at Pescheria dal Nonno in Triggiano, Italy"

Scorfano (Red Scorpionfish)

I thought that the scorfano (red scorpionfish) shown above (surrounded by smaller mullets) looked a little scary, but Mr. TWS was imagining how delicious it would be cooked and served with a nice pasta.

The photos below show more of the seafood for sale at the market — octopus, red shrimp, sea bass, baby shark, salmon, squid, calamari, swordfish, clams, crabs, and more. How many varieties can you identify?

"seafood on display at Pescheria dal Nonno"

"Fresh seafood on display at fishmarket in Triggiano, Italy"

If you like seafood, the fresher the better, you would love visiting this area of Italy. Many seafood specialties are served fresh (raw and cooked) and in large portions at restaurants throughout Puglia, such as the one at Balnearea Beach that we posted about previously.

When I asked Carlo what kind of fish he likes best, he said, “I like to eat all kinds of fish, but I don’t like fish with lots of bones. I eat raw mussels, octopus, clams, baby squid, calamari. In this region, many of the Barese people like to eat the raw stuff.”

What are your favorite types of seafood?

Thanks, Carlo, for being our excellent Ceglie Eurobus driver and guide throughout Puglia. Thanks to Puglia Promozione for hosting our Puglia experience.

If you go:

Bari province is located in central Puglia on the eastern coast of the “heel of the boot”. The area is served by Bari/Palese International Airport about seven miles west of the city of Bari.

Pescheria dal Nonno:
Via Della Marina, 25
San Giorgio (BA)
Tel. +39 080.5491228 – Fax 080.5491780

We’re linking this post to Marcia Mayne’s “Foodie Tuesday” series this week. Check out more gastronomic articles at Inside Journeys. We’re also contributing this post to Nancie McKinnon’s Budget Traveler’s Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday and Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery Travel Photo Monday series. Enjoy other links to photos and stories on their sites, too.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

41 thoughts on “On the Waterfront in Bari

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Thanks, Sue. I’m not a big seafood person either (Mr. TWS is the fish eater in our house), but like you, I love to see the markets and watch everything going on. It’s quite a scene.

  1. Marcia

    What a lovely experience that Carlo gave you!
    I love seafood, especially freshly caught but I’m really bad with names. I didn’t realize that black mussels could cause an adverse reaction. Was it raw?
    Thanks for linking up this week, Cathy.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Yes, the mussels were raw. I think he just wanted us to be cautious — wouldn’t want to ruin the trip by getting sick.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      That was a slice of local life that was so interesting to see. I never had any idea about how octopus is caught, much less how it’s tenderized.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I’ll have to ask Mr. TWS if he’s ever tried freshwater eel — don’t think it would be my thing. Of course, how can I know, unless I try it? 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Yes, have to agree with you about the scorpionfish. Maybe someday I’ll give it a try, but it will have to be well-cooked and not resembling it’s raw self at all. 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      We spend a bit of time in the old town (which I’ll be posting about later), but there’s much we didn’t get to see. I’ve just recently learned that Bari is a popular stop for the cruise ships.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I’m pretty much a seafood wimp too, but it was fascinating to see all this action up close since it’s such an important part of the the Bari way of life.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Same thing in our household but it’s the hubby who love the seafood. I actually wish I could get myself to try more fish dishes.

  2. Nancie

    Lobster always tops my list. I also love squid. When I was in Taiwan, I ate “Squid on a Stick” every chance I got. My favorite way to eat it though is rings of calamari. Nothing like a good feed of properly cooked calamari. It looks like you had a great day!

  3. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    To me, the best part of this outing is that you got such a in-the-know person escorting you around. I think that would make a big difference in really getting something out of the excursion. I had no idea octopus had to be tenderized or that was how it was done. Fascinating!

  4. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    I’ve seen Bari as a cruise ship itinerary and have always been curious. What a great little town with all that seafood. You can’t get any fresher than that. I would have loved to see the octopus being tenderized too. How cool would it be to see that. Interesting tidbit! My favorite seafood are those Alaskan king crab legs. I suddenly feel the need for some seafood for dinner tomorrow. 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I was so glad that we saw the tenderizing, too. It was just by chance that we were driving by while the fishermen were doing that and our great guide Carlo explained it.

  5. Jennifer

    I agree with Carlo! I don’t like fish with a lot of bones. Living in Italy, I’ve been open to trying many more types of fish than I used to and some I would never think to eat, like the barracuda I had in Greece, are just delicious! I love mussels and those scampi with the lobster like claws are SO darn tasty grilled up with just a little lemon and butter on them.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      You got me hungry with that last line! 🙂 So you ate barracuda in Greece — good for you giving it a try. I have to be more adventurous.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Agreed! I like my food cooked, too. But I’m starting to wonder if I should at least try some of this raw seafood. So many people love it, maybe I’d surprise myself and love it, too.

  6. Sharlene

    I will eat any type of seafood anytime… and seafood is one of my favourite things to photograph. I had no idea that octopi were tenderized on rocks. The photos reminded me a bit of the dhobi wallahs in India (who beat clothes on rocks to clean them).

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I can totally see how you were reminded of the dhobi wallahs. Something I need to find out from Carlo is whether that is the only method they use there or if there’s another method of tenderizing, too. Didn’t think about that before.

  7. Ruth

    Fresh seafood is the best. Last month my neighbor brought me a fresh rainbow trout that he had caught the day before – it was so delicious. I have not had any for years and I won’t buy trout in the stores, they are not fresh.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Tough to find good fresh seafood in the stores, isn’t it? What a treat that was to get the fresh trout! Nice neighbor. 🙂

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