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Travel:Puglia,Polignano-Mare Oct. 9-13/2023

Updated: Feb 19

A continuation of a trip that started on Oct 3rd/2023

Napoli - Oct 3rd (part 1)   Trulli Land Oct. 8th (part 6)

Capri - Oct 4th (part 2). Ostuni - Oct. 9th. (part 7)

Sorrento- oct 5th (part 3)

Positano Oct 6th (part 4)

Matera. - Oct 7th (part 5)

As was mentioned in the post on Ostoni , instead of driving down south to Gallipoli, we headed north to Poglignano-Mare... ,

Our daughter Inbal and her family, with whom we toured together from Oct 3rd - 6th and who got stranded in Rome because the Israeli/Hamas Oct 7th war, that has continued raging all this time, told us that she and the family would join us in the south of Italy, so we can stay together, during that unpredictable dreadful time,.

Since Polignano-Mare is only 50 minuets drive, away from Ostni, and is close-by to Bari, along the southern Adriatic coast   it seemed to be a good refuge choice..

Further more it was greatly in compliance with all the criteria, our daughter clearly laid-out,.. being easy to get around with walking access to the beach, center of town and eating places, without needing car rides.

 Thus this enchanting small town of only 20,000 inhabitants, seemed to be an an optimal

staying place for the time being.

The town is revered for its beaches like the white-pebble Lama Monachile, also known as Cala Porto, located in an ancient riverbed, which once flowed into the Adriatic and is now dry,

The beach is bordered by a Roman bridge behind, built on the famous Via Traiana

The Via Traiana. -the Rome-Brindisi road of antiquity, passed right through here.

We were totally smitten by the beauty of this gem town and its stunning limestone cliff-top setting offering spectacular views, edged rocky formatted coves, small pebble beaches, white-washed houses, and hypnotizing vibrant aquamarine sea waters,

One of the most photographed spots on the Adriatic coast, Lama Monachile

beach is well known, also for offering the best spot to spectate the exhilarating Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition. where each year, athletes bravely diving off the cliffs, some 92 feet high, into the Adriatic blue waters below, to the cheers of the gathered crowds,

While entering into town , a very friendly motorcycle driver named Pietro who happened to be passing by our car, and spoke English, was amazingly helpful in directing and literally leading us to a Real Estate Agency in town's center, after we inquired about the possibility of renting an apartment for all of us to stay at.

The owner of the agency- Giuseppe - who hardly spoke English, but managed to explain that he mainly deals with selling property, thus suggested to call his brother who specializes more in vacation Rentals.

Giuseppe Serio - " My Home Puglia" +39 3209636396 +39 380 4224045

Unbelievably, the brother -Giovanni - showed up within 10 minutes, spoke good English, and started showing us some vacant properties, near by. When he realized that all we seen, in the first hour, was too small for our family of 6 persons' needs, he said that he needed more time to inquire about some vacancies, with a long-standing client of his, and that he would call us later. And so he indeed did...

Diomora Grottone di Serio Giovanni - "Guest hose $ Suite"

+393801221015 +39 32096363696.

 Two hours later Giovanni introduced us to a lovely local elderly couple, who resided on a second floor of a free standing house, situated, just a block away from the beach, while the entire house's first floor , designated for rent, was divided to 3 small units with separate entrances, but inside could be all inter-connected.

The Rental owner:- Antonio D'Aprile

+39 80 4248256. 39 339 2964983

Via Grottone 8

Renting the entire first floor, all 3 units. with 3 small kitchens, bathrooms, showers, and plenty of beds, was our best renting bet, at the last minute, that late, at the end of the season, The spacious fully equipped 3 units in a great accessible location, were furnished in a traditional old fashion local style, offering practical comfort, and a very authentic feel

We promised to return and settle-in the next day, after the children would arrive from Rome by train to Bari, in the following afternoon.

Thus we spent the night of Oct 9th , prior to the children's arrival at the this  4-star hotel situated near by, at a great panoramic cliff-top location above a pebble beach..

Via Conversano 1/1a, +390804241177

It also features a traditional restaurant - the Il Bastione Restaurant that serves regional cuisine specializing in locally-caught fish and seafood.

Both the hotel+ the food at the restaurant, while basking in the fantastic views were great

On the Promenade with Domenico Modugno 

Next to the hotel, right on the promenade, the stretched arms of the bigger than life monument dedicated to the world's most famous Polignanese, the singer-songwriter who was born here- Domenico Modugno welcomes the incidental tourists.

He is known for the most famous Italian song in the world. - “Volare”,

Polignano-Mare 8000 years Long History in Short

Settled since prehistoric times, evidenced by archaeological local excavations, as the town is situated on the Adriatic Sea's a strategic position, it is believed that it was the site of the ancient Greek city of Neapolis ,

Some historians suggest that this latter was one of the 2 colonies founded during the 4th c BC by Dionysius II of Syracuse; other sources, instead, claim Julius Caesar as the father of Polignano -Mare, which might have been a central hub along the via Taraina.

It was also dominated later by The Byzantine Empire, in the 6th c and the Normans, who, during the 11th c made the local economy thrive by boosting the production of the olive oil and under the Aragonese crown, Polignano reached its peak in both economic and cultural spheres.

Now a days, the local economy mostly depends on tourism, agriculture and fishing.

The seaside old town is entered by passing under the 16th-c Maquis Arch

Arco Marchesale, also known as Porta Grande, which until 1780 was the only point of access to the town that was surrounded by a moat, now hidden by Piazza Garibaldi, with its drawbridge.

Historic Center

The historic center is a maze of narrow streets dotted by white houses of medieval origin clustered on the cliffs slope down towards a tiny beach, the Lama Monachile, which cuts the cliff in two. It is the most photographed place for its turquoise-water and is always very crowded in the summer months.

Protected by a large wall, surrounded by a moat, to strengthen the town's core. the walls were restored and enhanced in the 16th C, during the Venetian domination.

Today we can only see a long stretch of the remaining wall overlooking Piazza Garibaldi, incorporated in the Marquis' Palace.

Near the sea, on the eastern side of Lama Monachile, stands a watchtower and defense, the last examples of a system of angular towers built along the fortifications, which rendered the city impregnable, as defined by the documents of the time.

13th c Chiesa Matrice, the Marchesale palace, home of the feudal lords and the Orologio palace in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele are all quaint buildings on view

To the right side of the the medieval Clock ( Orologio) Palace, which was once the seat of the town hall, where 2 ground floor rooms, were both warehouses, until the back room was later converted into a prison building, on Via Tanese, and along Via Giudea was once the ancient Judea, which led into the Jewish Ghetto

The Pino Pascali Museum, the only permanent museum of contemporary art in Apulia, is located in a former slaughterhouse. The Museum displays photography and painting.

Many craft shops, pottery, typical ice-cream parlors, patisseries, great deli shops, and romantic restaurants overlooking the sea can be found in abidance

Polignano is also called the town of poetry: up and down, on walls, on the steps of the historic center, even on doors,, hand-painted, verses and words of famous poets and writers can be found

Underneath the town's jagged wall, visible only from the sea, the cliffs around Polignano conceal a tangle sea caves where the crystal-clear sea plays with the sunlight producing spectacular refraction phenomena. best explored by a boat sail.

Exploring the Caves

The "Blue Wave" speedboat which offers

about 2 hours Cave exploration sail service, took our family to several caves along the shore, and also let us have an enjoyable swim in a very quint spot

+39 389 0592923 elisa

+39 327 2479959 Fracesco

In high season I suspect that it is better to reserve the boat which departs every hour and a half starting at 9:30 until 18:30.

When we were there, after the kids joined us, very few tourists were seeking the boat services, so the entire off-season experience was very enjoyable.

Free swimming at the open sea

Ponte dei Lapilli Beach

is where the boat's pickup spot .

Ponte dei Lapilli is of larger pebbles and stones beach, which is named

for the bridge that backs it.

The rocky reef which borders it, enables to sit or lay there and bath in the sun..

Other Rock Beach Scenery

During the first unpredictable week of the Israeli/Hamas war, when we were all stranded and couldn't fly back to Israel, the family who joined us on Oct 10t , stayed

with us for a week, at the great place we rented for all of us. at the Grottone area.

The place was outside of the more crowded historic center, however within 10 minutes walking to it, and near by to all other services and attractions that this small town offers.

One major draw-back of the rental place, was a bad internet connection, which the owner did his best to remedy.

In between entertaining the grands with swimming, exploratory walks of this gorgeous town, and overdosing on Gellatto, we the 4 adults, all suffered of most somber mood, anxious about the devastating in-coming war news, and especially our daughter and her husband, who were obliged to also continue working remote-distance, felt lost about making more tangible future plans.

Exploring the Surroundings

One afternoon a 10 minutes a free roaming car drive, landed us at unexpected place...

Spiaggia di San Vito

About 3 km north from Polignano a Mare, we stumbled onto a very adorable little sandy cove with small fishing boats anchored, and a deserted centuries-old stone abbey near the water. The abbey, built in the 10th c was founded by Benedictines,

The watchtower on the beach is from the Baroque period, in excellent condition.

San Vito beach, is right below the abbey.

The Abbey of San Vito Martire is the main artistic attraction of the town.

From the 16th cthe abbey was the home of the conventual friars minor of the SS. Apostoli and in 1785 it became part of the Royal State Property Office.

In 1866 the State sold the abbey to the Marquises La Greca, who are still entirely owners today, while the church is owned by the Fund for Cult Buildings of the Ministry of the Interior and is given in concession to the Mother Church of Santa Maria Assunta where on Sunday perform the mass.

Several films have been shot in the hamlet of San Vito, including the opening scene of Cado dalle nubi , My beautiful Italian family and some scenes of Holiday profession , as well as several scenes from the episodes "Dangerous game" and "Last act" of the TV drama Le investigations of Lolita Lobosco .

A tourist destination for Italians and foreigners it is also thanks to some beaches such as Porto Cavallo, reachable on foot via a small road, Porto Contessa, a small sandy cove,

Driving further up North toward Bari, (the largest urban and metro area on the Adriatic.which we didn't visit on this trip) we ended at another small charming town Monopoli explored, only briefly.

This old fishing village with several very picturesque beaches. was founded by the Greeks, and even after several other conquerors, managed to retain its Italian old town feel of its charming historic center and fishing tradition.

Food in Polignano-Mare

The town is blessed with many eating places, sandwiches delis , restaurants, cafes and plenty of Gellatto parlors. However between the 3 kitchens at the rental, home cooking food, was definitely a comfort..

2 Sea Food restaurants we specially loved were:

Right around the corner from where the rental we stayed,

Lungomare D Modugno 33.

+ 39 80 8172053

Via Roma, 11 - Historic center

39+804242476. +39 333 4717012

Another popular restaurant situated in the historical center and recommended by many locals is:

La Locandda Porta Picc

Via Anemone 34/36 +39 3881945973 , +39 331 3386224 +39 802462070

As it became sadly evident that the war would continue for many more months, and that the grands needed schooling and more stability, our daughter decided to fly out to her husband's parents' town, thus departed from us and Polignano -Mare, and took off to Mexico on Oct 14th.

By By Polignano-Mare

On Feb 19, 2024 Inbal our daughter sent the following note after reading the post:

Subject: Re: Travel: Puglia : Polignano Mare Oct. 9-13/2023

"It was so fun to read this mama and to remember how we made lemonade from the lemons and were able to spend time together, in one of the most difficult times in my life, in such a beautiful corner of the world with so much love. I remember at the time thinking I would never be able to enjoy life again and now, when I see the photos of beautiful Pogliano I have only fond memories and good feelings!"

To be continued...


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