What are the top things to do in Polignano a Mare?
Polignano was all I had ever imagined and more. Has it ever happened to you to see a hundred photos of a place, dream about it for a while and then be slightly disappointed by the reality? Well, this was NOT the case with Polignano. It was, if possible, more beautiful than I had imagined it. That’s why I’m very happy to share with you the top things to do in Polignano a Mare. PS the pronunciation is poh-lee-NYAH-no ah MAH-reh.
Moreover we were lucky enough to stay in that lovely village during the days of the Madonna del Carmine (15, 16 and 17 July), celebrated with processions, marching bands, illuminations and final fireworks on the beach.
Top things to do in Polignano a Mare
1 Bathe at Lama Monachile beach
Admire the so called Lama Monachile from the Borbonic bridge. It’s a majestic, breathtaking sight. The sea so blue, the tiny rocky beach, and the two cliffs on the sides. And of course, to bathe there, too! The water is crystal clear. Only precaution: use water shoes!
Other beaches are Cala Paura, Cala Incina and San Vito, where you can have a nice view of the Abbey, the bay and the traditional boats. Those of Polignano are all painted in red and green, the colors of the local Saint.
2 Sing “Volare” next to Domenico Modugno statue
Walking past the Borbonic bridge, you can find the statue of Domenico Modugno. Although he revealed his origins only when he was very famous, Mr. Volare was born in Polignano and lived here until he was about 7.
The statue is set in such a way as not to turn the back either to the village or to the sea. I saw lots of people taking pics with the statue and singing “Volare oh oh”. Behind the statue, a staircase leads to a panoramic point.
3 Explore the Sea Caves by boat
Go for a boat ride to admire the sea caves along the shore. We chose Sofia Escursioni, suggested by our B&B owners. The fee is €50 for 2 people. The ride lasts about 2 hours and includes the opportunity to bathe offshore in one of the bays. I chose to bathe in front of the famous Grotta Palazzese restaurant, one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world.
4 Use the Three Wheeled Taxis (Ape Calessino)
If you don’t have a car, or if you found the perfect parking spot and you don’t want to lose it for good, no problem. You can move thanks to one of the Ape Calessino services. Small three wheeled vehicles that you will spot around town. Matteo and I used one to reach the port and join the boat tour. Afterwards, we sent a message via Whatsapp to ask them to come and fetch us. Total price €10 (2 people, back and forth).
5 Explore inch by inch the lovely town centre
The style of houses, balconies, alleys is very diverse: Arabian, Spanish, Byzantine, Norman. The village, the many views of the sea, the white corners full of plants are all utterly charming. Pay attention to the Clock Tower in the main piazza. It is still handwinded by a lady every day.
Quirk note! One of the evenings we were there, we saw a man performing in the piazza. He was playing guitar and… rubber pigs. Each pig made a different pitched oink and, to my surprise, the man was perfectly capable of pressing with his foot the right pig at the right time to obtain the perfect note to accompany the main melody. LOL! 😀
Also, many of the shops are worth a stop. I saw wonderful handmade shoes, necklaces, bags, ornaments, whistles in the shape of a boat or Italian politicians.
I bought a pendant in the shape of a small pumo pugliese, i.e. the luckbringer apple you can see everywhere in this area and in Salento. I’ll show it to you on my social profiles!
6 Be inspired by poetry…
Another unique feature are the poems written on steps and walls by “Guido, il Flaneur”. Flaneur is a word invented by Baudelaire to define a man who wanders around a place to live and experience it. Guido moved to Polignano after falling in love with this place and decided to adorn its corners with poems. It’s a lovely, peculiar thing.
7 Enjoy the best views
- Terrazza Santo Stefano has the best view of the Lama Monachile Beach from the sea point of view.
- The borbonic bridge has the best view on the opposite side.
- Another beautiful panorama is down the staircase behind Modugno’s statue. There you can see Lama Monachile and the village altogether.
- If you want to take a peek at Grotta Palazzese, go to the terrace at the end of via Gelsomino.
8 Don’t be frugal with gelato
As for a good gelato, I can’t but recommend Caruso Note d’Eccellenza, around the corner of the special coffee place. Fruit flavors were amazing. But creams are scrumptious… only for true gluttons like me. In fact you can choose the gourmet cone (hazelnut or cocoa flavour) and have the endpoint filled with liquid chocolate (white or dark).
9 Eat where the locals go
Three suggestions for your meals
- Pescaria for fish panini to die for. I loved the tuna fish tartare one, but also the one with prawns. But beware of the queue. Better to arrive as soon as they open (noon) for lunch or before 8 for dinner.
- At La Locanda Porta Picc we appreciated most of all the squid ink tagliolini with seafood.
- But we most of all appreciated the Trattoria Dal Monaco. A delicious antipasti mix and aragostella (spiny lobster) spaghetti.
10 Have a special coffee
Taste the so called “caffé speciale” (special coffee), invented by Mario Campanella. Now, attention. In piazza Garibaldi, right in front of Polignano main entrance door, there are two places with a similar name. One is “Il Super Mago del Gelo Mario Campanella”, at the number 22; the other one is “Il Mago del Gelato”. So, one is the Super Wizard of Ice Cream Mario Campanella, and the other one is The Wizard of Ice Cream.
The first is the inventor of caffé speciale. When I read the ingredients list I thought: Yuk! But on the contrary I liked it very much: coffee, sugar, lemon zests, cream and amaretto liqueur. Buonissimo! 😀
In conclusion, I really loved Polignano a Mare, its beauty and its clear sea. I miss it and I hope to go back one day!
Polignano in a video
Watch my short video of Polignano: