Полиняно а Маре / Polignano a Mare

Thinking it too touristy and very overrated, Polignano a Mare almost fell out of our Puglia visit plan. Luckily, we decided to stop by this picturesque town perched on steep cliffs above the Adriatic Sea…

Where is located and how to get there

Polignano a Mare is just 35 km south-east of Bari, making it the perfect choice for a day escape from the region’s bustling capital. To some extent, this is also due to the easy access by public transport, because the trains run at frequent intervals, and the journey between them takes only 30 minutes. For the most accurate timetable and advance ticket purchase, visit the Trenitalia website.

See car rental options in Puglia

Traveling by car gives more flexibility and it is much easier to visit other nearby places that are definitely worth it – Alberobello (30 km), Martina Franca (40 km), Locorotondo (33 km) and Ostuni (50 km). Parking in Polignano can be difficult in the summer, but on our visit there were plenty of spaces available in the spacious Parcheggio San Francesco. It is only a 5-minute walk from the city center.

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To the statue of Domenico Modugno

We can’t wait to catch a glimpse of the wondrous charm of Polignano and its revealing views of the endless sea, which have inspired various artists throughout the centuries… One such is Domenico Modugno, whose bronze statue is our first stop! The most popular son of Polignano a Mare appeared at the Sanremo Festival in 1958 with the song “Nel blu dipinto di blu” or better known as “Volare” and in addition to the first place, it won him two more Grammy Awards and huge world fame!

The view from the rock – Pietra Piatta

And right behind the statue there is a wide staircase named after the single of the same name and leading to a large flat rock with a great view – Pietra Piatta. The February wind played with the sea and sent the waves with increasing force to the limestone rocks… And the old city, perched above them, seemed to mock that no matter how rough the waters, they wouldn’t be able to reach its stone buildings.

The postcard of Puglia – the beach of Polignano a Mare

The panoramic view only hinted at the most popular beach in Puglia, while the Ponte Borbonico su Lama Monachile bridge, leading to the heart of the city, showed us the sandy beach hidden between the rocks. Well, it’s more stony than sandy and it definitely doesn’t look like the sunny summer photos when it’s crowded with people, but it still has its charm in winter… Lama Monachile or also known as Cala Porto, is the most famous beach in Puglia! In the recent past, this part of southern Italy hasn’t enjoyed many visitors at all, and it is the desire of people to convince themselves that this picturesque corner of Polignano a Mare is real, that plays a major role in the development of tourism…

💡 If you want to visit it in the summer, it is good to come early in the morning to try to find a free place… Also note that due to its location, it is almost completely covered in shadow from early afternoon onwards. And lastly… wear water shoes!

Terraces over the Adriatic Sea

A town with terraces above the Adriatic… that’s Polignano a Mare! And how else, when everything is on 20 meter cliffs rising above the blue waters. And the legendary beach is at the heart of the most impressive panoramic view, that of the Belvedere su Lama Monachile. It’s reached in a very short time, but you may have to wait for free space around the railing… The terraced rocks are a favorite jumping spot for adrenaline junkies, and this is where one of the most extreme races in the world takes place – Red Bull Cliff Diving.

We went to hunting for views, so we also head to Terrazza Santo Stefano. A slightly different perspective on Polignano a Mare and its dramatic cliffs! And in them lies a veritable network of caves, some carved out by the force of water. It’s in such a niche that one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world is located – Grotta Palazzese.

Around the old town of Polignano

Polignano a Mare is no exception to the general look of the towns in the region and white houses predominate throughout the old town. And like most of the area, its ancient roots are Greek, with subsequent development thanks to the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Aragonese, and more. The best thing about visiting it in the off-season is that the noise of the tourist crowds is replaced by the clatter of the waves… charming! Every wandering through the narrow streets is many times more pleasant, hearing the roar of the stormy sea…

There is no danger of getting lost, but you can still use the central square – Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II as a guide. This is the perfect place to start the day with aromatic coffee and end it with an aperitif in hand! Its main focus falls on the Palazzo dell’ Orologio, with the 19th-century clock almost glued to the windows and replacing the former sundial, the outlines of which can still be seen if you look closely. And above it was added the statue of San Vito, Polignano’s patron, as well as the bell tower.

Wandering through its streets, you will find great shops with handmade things, you will find yourself on another terrace over the water or next to steep stairs leading to someone’s home… Also find the poetic verses written on walls, doors and steps… They are signed “Guido Il Flâneur” and are the work of local resident Guido Lupori, born in Bari but living in Polignano a Mare.

Back to the Roman bridge

If you have more time, you can continue the walk to Lungomare di Polignano a Mare for more impressive views. We were in a hurry to Bari so we headed back to the car but were tempted to veer slightly off the road… The reason was Martinucci Laboratory and their overflowing showcase with various gelato flavors! After a quick bite, we can leave in peace… Our path took us past the small Roman bridge (parallel to the large one we entered on), which was once part of the ancient Via Traiana road, and today reveals another interesting viewpoint towards the beach…

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