Polignano a Mare is located 30 kilometers south of Bari and 80 kilometers from Brindisi, two of the main cities of Puglia and and home to the two airports in the region. Its origins date back to the Neolithic period (5th millennium BC), it was known as Neapolis during ancient Greek times and became an important trading center and seaport under the Romans.
Polignano a Mare is a pearl on the Adriatic Sea, the oldest part of the town lies on limestone cliffs and overlooks the sea. Of particular interest are his natural caves scattered around its territory where several remains of prehistoric human settlement have been found.
The old town is very suggestive and picturesque: it is a perfect composition of white houses, clinging almost desperately to a rocky promontory kissed by the crystal clear waters of the sea.
Polignano a Mare has often received the Blue Flag (from the Foundation for Environmental Education) for its clean bathing water and beaches.
Things to see in Polignano a Mare
Wandering around the old town and getting lost among its narrow streets and white stone paved alleys is probably the best way to discover this little pearl. You will get lost into this labyrinth and most of the time the alleys will lead you to small terraces at the edge of the cliffs for a spectacular view point.
The architecture of the historic old town is very simple and typical of Mediterranean villages with numerous outside stairways, nice arches decorated with colorful flowers.
Several monuments and buildings of historic interest are well kept in the old town. The Marchesale Arch between the Lama Monachile bridge and the Garibaldi square was the original ancient gateway to the town. Through this old city gate you enter the small historic center of Polignano a Mare. This gate was formerly the only entrance to the city and was equipped with a drawbridge. A few steps from it is Piazza Vittorio Emanuelle II, also called by the inhabitants of the town the square of the clock due to the presence of an ancient clock on the façade of one of these historic buildings.
Many streets of the historic center are decorated with various religious images and flowers of all colors, but during a walk through its streets you will also find dozens of lines of poems painted on every little corner, wall or door. This makes a walk through these streets one of the most pleasant things to see in Polignano a Mare.
Located literally on the cliffs, its white houses, narrow streets and small squares will end up taking you to one of the many panoramic balconies where you can enjoy the best views of the Adriatic and, of course, of Lama Monachile and its around.
This beach, also called Cala Ponte, is probably the main attraction to see in Polignano a Mare. It is also one of the most recognizable and photographed places in Puglia. It is famous for being located between two high rock walls, on which the houses of the old town rest, and the blue and crystalline waters of the Adriatic Sea. The beach is not sandy, but white pebbles, and in summer it is difficult to find a free place to put a towel. Lama Monachile is crossed by the old Roman bridge of the Via Trajana that used to give access to the city.
Domenico Modugno, an unforgettable master of popular Italian music, was born here. Famous in Italy and the whole world for the song «Nel blu dipinto di blu«, better known as «Volare«. With this song Domenico won a Grammy Award in 1958, in addition to fame and international recognition. As a tribute to this great artist, a statue has been opened in his honor along the seafront. It is located on the promenade that bears his name. Behind the statue, stairs called “Volare” lead to an esplanade on the cliffs where you can enjoy excellent views of the sea and Lama Monachile beach.
Another important and characteristic scenery not to miss are the caves along its coast. Dug by the force of the sea which has shaped the rocks over the millennium, some of them are so deep that they extend right under the city center. Among these, the Palazzese cave which gives the water a spectacular green-blue color.
Grotta Palazzese is one of the most surprising places to see in Polignano a Mare. The cave, located inside a rock by the sea, today houses one of the 25 most beautiful restaurants in the world. If your budget allows it, a dinner at the Ristorante Grotta Palazzese is one of the most exclusive experiences to enjoy in a unique place and setting in the world.
Worth mentioning is also that, since 2018 Polignano a Mare has been hosting the Red Bull Cliff Diving World High Jump Championship, one of the most spectacular sporting events in the world. In this event, the participants jump into the sea from a height of 27 meters. Athletes must perform jumps, completing incredible stunts, from 5 different modalities: Front, Back, Inverted, Upside Down and Inside.
It is an event that attracts many people and a show that is worth experiencing live. If the dates coincide in this area of Puglia, the Red Bull high jump championship is one of the most spectacular things to see in Polignano a Mare.
Places to see near Polignano a Mare
There are several interesting places to visit near Polignano a Mare. Here are a few suggestions:
- Alberobello: This UNESCO World Heritage site is located about 20 km from Polignano a Mare and is known for its unique trulli houses. The town is home to over 1,500 of these cone-shaped houses, which were built using a traditional dry stone construction method.
- Ostuni: Located about 30 km from Polignano a Mare, Ostuni is known as the “White City” due to its white-washed buildings and stunning architecture. The town is perched on a hilltop overlooking the sea, and its historic center is home to several churches, palaces, and museums.
- Castellana Grotte: This town is located about 15 km from Polignano a Mare and is home to some of the most impressive caves in Italy. The Grotte di Castellana are a series of underground caves that stretch for over 3 km and feature incredible stalactites and stalagmites.
- Matera: This ancient city is located about 70 km from Polignano a Mare and is known for its historic Sassi district, which is carved into the rocky hillsides. The Sassi were inhabited for thousands of years and are now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Bari: The regional capital, Bari is located about 30 km from Polignano a Mare and is a bustling port city with a rich history and culture. The old town is home to several historic landmarks, including the Basilica di San Nicola, which houses the relics of Saint Nicholas.