Set just South of Puglia's capital, Bari, Polignano a Mare is a dreamy Italian seaside town and one of Puglia's most photographed destinations. Known mostly for Lama Monachile (aka Cala Porto), quite possibly the all-time most picturesque Italian beach, this little town on the Adriatic is not to be missed. Upon entering the town you'll come upon Ponte Borbonico su Lama Monachile - The Roman Bridge, where you can catch an a beautiful view and get some amazing photos of the beach. Nestled between two towering rock walls, which are scattered with historical buildings - it's truly breathtaking. Unlike so many beaches in Italy, this one is free to access and not the 30 euro-per-sunchair type of beach. But It's not your typical sandy sunbathing beach either; It's a rocky and sort of uncomfortable (albeit stunning!) beach to chill for a bit and take in the views or to use as a place to leave your things and dive into the crystal clear, calm water.
There are several viewpoints of the beach, surrounding cliffs and the Adriatic and honestly, you'll want to see the views from them all. Gazing out onto the teal-blue Adriatic sea, it's one of those places that makes you ask, "Is this really real?". The sea aside, this town's beauty is really versatile. The "old town" is made up of cute, quiet winding streets accessible mostly just by foot. Stepping along the stone streets, lined with an abundance of plants and flowers you wonder how everyone here developed such an amazing green thumb. Along the way you can stop at cafes for glasses of wine, an aperol spritz and a snack or an espresso. It's an amazing city to explore by foot, to swim, to sun, to eat, drink - and eat and drink again. Maybe you've heard of it and maybe you haven't, but if Southern Italy is on your getaway bucket list, be sure to add this gem of a town.
Here are some unmissable things to check out as you wander along in Polignano a Mare:
1. First and foremost grab a view of Lama Monachile Cala Porto from Ponte Borbonico su Lama Monachile - The Roman Bridge. Stand there for a bit and just take it all in. It's one of the most photographed nooks of Italy, for good reason. This is a free beach (yes, free beach - in Italy!). While its a rocky grotto-style beach and not conducive to sunbathing like a sandy beach, you can pop your things down like the locals do and jump into the perfectly temperate water. Sun-seekers and swimmers alike post up all over the beach and along the cliff walls.
2. Have a couple of Aperol Spritzes at La Terrazza. Sure, there are a ton of places to eat and drink, but we loved its location and view, its authentic charm, warm service, delicious pastas and mozzerella and their 5 Euro Aperol Spritz. If you're more in the mood to feel fancy, head across the street to Donna Gina instead.
3. Wander through the old town a bit, following the plant and flower-adorned buildings along the cliffside and you'll find your way to another incredible viewing point of Cala Porto, cliffside at via the Bastione di Santo Stefano viewpoint. This one will offer a direct, almost birds-eye-view of the beloved beach and perfectly-teal Adriatic and everyone just living their best lives.
4. Catch a different angle of this magical place via Grotta dell' Acrivescovado by Ristorante La Balconata. Here you can view some of the amazing limestone caves and the Adriatic
as far as the eye can see. If you walk a bit further down the road along Via S. Benedetto to Grotte Marine di Polignano a Mare, you can check out the beloved restaurant Grotta Palazzaese, actually set inside the vaulted limestone caves.
image courtesy of luxeadventuretraveler.com
5. It's called wanderlust for a reason. Wander aimlessly through the ridiculously cute streets of the historical city center (where everyone seems to have a miraculous green thumb), taking the sun and scenery and end up at Gusto Caruso for some of the best gelato you'll ever have. Get it with the homemade waffle cone!
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