Updated October 26, 2023 | Original Post June 22, 2022
Let’s talk about Polignano a Mare, a charming Puglian seaside getaway featured on Instagram and one of Southern Italy’s most picturesque towns. It’s an up-and-coming touristy spot, and rightly so for many reasons. During our Puglian summer road trip, Polignano was a fun day trip from Monopoli, and I’m here to give you the details of what you can do in one day in Polignano a Mare.
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A Few Facts About Polignano a Mare
As mentioned above, Polignano a Mare is based in one of Southern Italy’s seaside towns. It is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and is part of the Province of Apulia or Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy. The nearest most significant city, and easy access to the location if you are flying into the area, is Bari, about 30 kilometers away. This charming city boasts of green, blue clear water nestled on the jagged rocks and cliffs of differing heights from which white-washed houses and buildings rest. It’s a sight one can admire from afar.
The history of this ancient city dates back to several influences between Greek, Roman, Byzantian, Venetian, and Aragonese (Spanish). At one point, the Greeks called this seaside city Neapolis before it became Polignano a Mare. I won’t delve into the interesting history of Polignana, but here’s a good article to read.
One Day in Polignano a Mare
After our half-day visit at Monopoli, we drove up approximately 8km to Polignano a Mare for the rest of the day. One half-day in Polignano a Mare was enough to enjoy the city if you are pinched for time, but otherwise, 1-2 days would be ideal. Here are a few things you can do to enjoy this city.
Visit the Local Beach
Just outside the city center of Polignano a Mare is the famous La Monachile, aka Cala Monachile, beach. I’m not one to want to visit a very touristy area, but since we were in Puglia, I had to see this beach myself. We paid to park near this location, and walked our way towards the beach. A small, picturesque bay with crystal clear blue waters and a pebble beach, surrounded by imposing rugged cliffs that hug the city’s whitewashed buildings, this beach is well-known for its waters and view, and the view did not disappoint.
La Monachile, aka Cala Monachile or Cala Porto, is the local, free beach. I recommend getting there early, before noon. We made the mistake of visiting the beach mid-afternoon, and it was already packed! Additionally, bring water shoes! This beach is rocky and full of pebbles; it is not sandy! My feet are very sensitive, so I appreciated my Keens on these rough, rocky surfaces. It wasn’t a very relaxing beach to lay out on, but the water was nice to wade in.
Enjoy the View of La Monachile
One not to miss, if you’ve visited the beach, get an aerial view of the bay from the city. After spending a few hours on the beach, we walked to Terrazza vista mare. The terrace with the best view of Polignano offers a view of the bay and the cliffs. And, if the view isn’t enough to entice you to visit this beautiful location, Polignano hosts the Red Bull International Diving Competition every summer, thanks to the cliffs surrounding the bay.
Wander Around the Charming Centro Storico
You don’t want to miss exploring the adorable city center (aka Centro Storico) of Polignano a Mare; you won’t regret it. The city is full of quaint narrow alleyways with charming Italian buildings worth exploring. I didn’t tire of seeing every corner or alleyway as we got lost in the maze of the city. The city is small enough to enjoy a leisurely walk. It’s also a photographer’s dream location from many angles of photography.
Go on a Hunt for Poetry
While wandering around the city, don’t be alarmed if you find beautiful Italian quotes or poetries written along stairs, doors, and white walls. These are the works of Guido Lupori, one of the town’s most famous residents. He moved to Polignano a Mare from Bari to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He started writing his poems and quotes from other writers around the city, signing after the name Guido Il Flâneur – Guido The Wanderer. I didn’t understand a single word but found them quite charming and romantic. You can find them as you explore deeper into the city; the famed poetry steps can be found along Vicolo della Poesia.
Check out the Roman Bridge of Ponte Lama Monachile
Walk along the ancient Roman Bridge along the Via Traiana and get an amazing view of La Monachile beach. It’s another great viewpoint to see the beach from another angle.
Enjoy the Pizza or Gelato
Nothing is more relaxing than enjoying a good slice of authentic Italian Pizza along Centro Storico on a hot summer in June. To finish off our quick half-day adventure in Polignano, we enjoyed dinner at Bella Mbriana and relaxed our tired feet from walking and exploring all day. Here are other restaurants and eatery options for Polignano.
Puglia’s “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Polignano a Mare is a charming city to explore. You can visit in a day if you are crunched for time. But, once you’re exploring your way through the mazes of Polignano, don’t forget to soak it all in and just get lost in this charming seaside gem. Until next time my friends! Alla prossima volta amici miei!