Inspiring Destinations Polignano a Mare Italy
Lama Monachile, the beach is surrounded by steep cliffs

Inspiring Destinations – Polignano a Mare, Italy

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Polignano a Mare, Italy

Polignano a Mare is a town on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast, down near the heel of the country’s boot about 40km from the port city of Bari.

The biggest drawcard to the city are its unique beaches. Lama Monachile is a small pebble beach surrounded by steep cliffs. The cliffs have been built on, providing a dramatic scene often reflected in the clear blue water.

a view of a beach with cliffs
Looking to Lama Monachile from the Roman bridge

Greeks founded the city of  Neopolis here in the 4th century and it expanded under the Romans. Emperor Trajan built a road the Via Triana as an extension to the Appian Way from 108-110 AD.  The bridge at Lama Monachile, just north of the historic centre was part of Trajan’s road.

A Roman bridge at Polignano a Mare, Italy
Ponte Borbonico is a Roman Bridge dating to 110AD

A wander through the lanes of the old town will take you to terraces with panoramic views over the water. If your budget allows, try the unique dining experience at the Grotta Palazzese. The restaurant is set in vaulted limestone cave in the middle of a vertical seaside cliff.

A plaza in Polignano a Mare Italy
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II with the church, Santa Maria Assunta consecrated in 1295.

If you are visiting Polignano a Mare, make sure you allow time to visit Matera, 100km inland. This is a fascinating town, built on a rocky hill and famous for the Sassi area.

View of an old town Matera, Italy
Spectacular views of Matera from Chiesa rupestre di San Giuliano o Madonna delle Grazie

The Sassi is complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside and were inhabited for centuries. They were evacuated in 1952 due to poor living conditions, the Sassi now houses museums.

Nearby rock churches include St. Lucia alle Malve, with 13th-century frescoes.

A road leading alongside an old town
You can see the Sassi caves on the left side of this image

We did a road trip through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania during 2017. You can read about our roadie along with some other places we visited that year here – Eastern Europe Road Trip.