Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 11, 2019

Polignano a Mare…eat in a cave beside the sea

Polignano a Mare is a town in Puglia on the Adriatic Sea, south of Bari. It sits on the edge of a craggy ravine dotted with caves.

Its most famous son is Domenico Modugno who co-authored and sang Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare) which won the Sanremo Music Festival and came third in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. He went on to a successful music and film career and later became a politician.

He has a statue dedicated to him on the sea front.

Polignano a Mare has ancient origins and is believed to be the site of the Ancient Greek city of Neopolis. It still has a Greek feel in some areas.

We arrived to fierce wind and a storm approaching. The buildings clinging to the edge of the sea are impressive.

It was not the best day for its famous, and much photographed beach.

It got better.


The sun came out briefly.


The beach is tiny and is not a sand beach. It is rocky and difficult to walk on. Getting into the water would be tricky and you would need strong footwear.

According to Paolo, the charming owner of the B&B we stayed at, 83,000 people descended on the area for the Red Bull diving competition last year. That seemed a bit far fetched until I looked at this photo from the Red Bull website.

This year it will be held on 2nd June, just in case you happen to be in the area. If you are, stay at Malu B&B. The terrace where we had breakfast has a view of the diving spot which is a private terrace. The divers enter through a living room.

There is evidence of Roman settlement seen with the remains of a bridge on the Via Traiana.

The old part of the town is lovely. The rain squalls and freezing wind kept most people away.

There are another few streets nearby with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants.

We booked dinner at Grotta Palazzese, the restaurant in a cave beside the sea. It really is in a cave! I can imagine it being a good hiding place for pirates centuries ago. Now it is an elegant (and expensive) dining area.

We caught a glimpse of it in the afternoon from one of the nearby cliffs. You can see it in the bottom left corner.

The setting is amazing.


The restaurant sits partly on a platform across the cave. Underneath you can see and hear the sea swirling in and out.

Overhead, these metal sculptures that look like sea creatures are really clever gadgets to allow water drips to avoid diners and plop into the sea.

The food was as good as the setting and the service was seamless. The waiters wore overcoats and we were given blankets…you can’t really heat a cave.


The beach looked great on the way back from the restaurant.

Malu B&B was excellent. The room was small, but well designed with a good bathroom and a great breakfast. Paolo told us his mother made the breakfast goodies.

It was a pity the weather was so awful. I can see that this would be a fun place to come for a few days.


  1. Oh Deb you have really captured this fabulous place. Been on my bucket list since I read an article on it a few years ago. Glad you have been there and can share this first hand., Amazing pictures – don’t worry about the weather it is still a stunning post.

    • It is a pretty place. The restaurant was incredible. The rain squalls and fierce wind didn’t reach us there.

  2. Lovely once again……unfortunately we never stopped there on our way further south many years ago…..appears to have “all” the charm of Puglia missing in other towns….

    • It is a pretty town and quite lively, unlike many we visited.

      • Most of the seaside towns in Puglia only come alive in June, July and August when the inland apartment dwellers move to the coast and open up their summer homes. And, of course, we get a huge volume of beach loving visitors then too. The small coastal towns are virtually deserted for most of the year. Polignano a Mare is a big town and, like Otranto, Monopoli and a few other seaside towns, stays alive all year round.

      • It is a pity they can’t extend the season a month each side. It would be better for everyone. I don’t come to Italy in the summer, it is too hot and crowded…and I love our Brisbane winter.

  3. Wow that cave restaurant is gorgeous!! Although I don’t think the diving is for me (obviously) it would look spectacular.

    • The cave restaurant was fabulous. Diving would not be for me.

  4. A pretty spectacular-looking place. I wonder why Italians built their towns on the edge of cliffs.

    • At least from one side it would have been difficult to get into the town…keep enemies at a distance.

  5. The weather was great for photos, though! They’re spectacular, and tell a lovely story. For a sec I thought you might be using a drone! I don’t think I could handle watching cliff divers. Yikes!

    • The photos look dramatic. I don’t mind stormy skies but fierce, freezing wind never makes me happy.

  6. I must say that it looks wonderful in that stormy weather…

  7. Good Morning Debra. Kerri and Jan at Alla Moda gave me your information as I am about to go on my first trip to France and Italy. Your designers eye for composition in your photos is very evident – gorgeous. ( I am a fashion follower of many decades.) Your blogs are making me even more excited about my impending trip.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I hope you have a great trip.

  8. I was there 2 years ago and absolutely loved it. I hired a Vespa and had a wonderful adventure exploring beautiful towns nearby. It’s definitely on my list of places to return to for longer.

    • It is a lovely town, worth returning to for a longer stay.

  9. You were very unlucky with the unseasonable weather. I brought my visitors there on Saturday and it was warm and sunny with many tourists in evidence. It’s a very pretty town and the cliffs are spectacular.

    • We could see how lovely it would be on a sunny day. We were very unlucky with the weather for our Puglia trip.

  10. We will be in Puglia in late May/early June and Pogliano a Mare is on the list! Is it worth eating at Grotta Palazzese? I often found those sorts of places over-priced because you are paying for the views, not the food! Is there a bar where we could just go for a drink?

    • The food is very good. I don’t think you can just go to the bar for a drink. There is are 2 prices for dinner, €180 per person for 3 courses and €220 for 4. You would need to book ahead. Go to their website and you can send an email request. Don’t phone, they don’t answer.

  11. tempat yg indah untuk liburan

  12. […] via Polignano a Mare…eat in a cave beside the sea — Bagni di Lucca and Beyond […]

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: