A shining gem on the coast of the Valle d’Itria, perched atop a 20 metre-high limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, Polignano a Mare truly lives up to its name and literally could not be any more ‘at sea’!
The origins of this enchanting place date back to the 4th century BC when Greek settlers founded the city of Neapolis. It flourished under the Romans and was important enough for Emperor Trajan to direct his Via Traiana, built between 108-110 AD, through the town. Remains of this road include a bridge at Lama Monachile, just north of the historic centre.
Polignano offers all the right ingredients for a perfect day out. The tiny old town, reached through the Porta Vecchia gate, combines charming, white-washed streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. You may find yourself getting lost in the winding streets, but you won’t mind at all. Before you know it, you will have reached one of three panoramic terraces offering breathtaking views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline.
After a stroll through the town and a coffee in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, why not pop down to the Blue Flag beach, just a few minutes’ walk from the old centre? A firm favourite with the locals, the beach has crystal clear waters and is flanked on two sides by cliffs from which children and teenagers dive all through the day until sunset.
Polignano is famous throughout the world for three things. First of all is, as hinted at above, cliff diving. In recent years the town has hosted the Red Bull diving competition, attracting crowds of 45,000 people in 2010! Second is its outstanding ice-cream, which you really cannot afford to miss on a hot summer’s evening. The third and possibly most famous export of Polignano a Mare, however, is the great Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang numerous classic songs, including the massive international hit, Volare (originally entitled Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu)! The locals are incredibly proud of their favourite son and rightly so. As you wander through the streets that inspired such a wonderful song, you might well find yourself involuntarily singing or whistling, “Volare, oh,oh… Cantare, oh,oh,oh,oh… Nel blu dipinto di blu… felice di stare lassù…”.