Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our trip to Polignano a Mare! Photo heavy!


Will and I are just back from an amazing holiday in Polignano a Mare. It was so amazing I decided to write about it all and give you an insight into this absolute gem of a town. As much as I hate to say it, Will was the brains behind the holiday (he had previously arranged our honeymoon, so he is very good at researching the right places for us).  After a few weeks of looking into places in Italy, he asked me what I thought of Polignano a Mare and as soon as I googled it I knew it was exactly the type of place I wanted to go. 


Getting there


Ryanair is the only airline from Dublin that flies to Bari Airport.  The flight takes about 3 hours 20 minutes, which isn't too bad.  On our outbound flight however it was delayed 2 hours, so by the time we arrived in Bari we were exhausted. So instead of getting 2 different trains to Polignano which we had planned, we got a taxi straight there instead, this set us back €75. The taxi was quite expensive but worth it as we had a suitcase and carry on each, the thoughts of trying to bring all that on 2 trains, our mind was made up!  


Where we stayed

Polignano a Mare is a small town and I think I counted maybe 2 hotels in the area.  It's mostly B&Bs and after a lot of research Will booked Karenhouse B&B.  When we arrived were met by the, she was such a lovely, warm and welcoming lady.  She showed us around our "room" which turned out to be an apartment!  Once you walk up the stairs you come to the first level.  This had a bed, bathroom, seating area and a small terrace.  Half way up the next flight of stairs was another bed, which was a mezzanine and further up the stairs was a small kitchen with a gorgeous terrace.  We even had a sea view from the terrace.  I was worried for 10 days staying in a B&B would feel a little claustrophobic but we had so much space.  It was situated just off the main street Via Roma, and not even a 5 minute walk to the old town.  It was such a great location as we would go out for a few hours and then come back to the apartment for lunch, or a small nap before going out again.  Complimentary breakfast was served in a cafe a couple of minutes up the road which was tea/coffee and croissants/cake etc.  Would you believe that this is where I finally started to drink coffee!! I always thought coffee tasted like an ashtray, but Will said it gets nicer after about 3 sups, he was right! 







Polignano a Mare, the town itself

One word to describe Polignano is - stunning.  From the streets, to the food, the sunsets, everything is just gorgeous!  Before I go away somewhere new, I have a habit of going to google maps, putting myself in the map (a la Joey from Friends) and walking around to get a feel for it.  When I did this for Polignano, it looked quite quiet and some roads weren't accessible to cars so I couldn't see too much of it.  When we got there however I realised the main street Via Roma and the old town section were for pedestrians only and both of these were our favourite places.  Via Roma had some jewellery and clothes shops along with small restaurants and bars.  The old town was where the heart of Polignano lay.  Once you walk under an old brick arch, you are welcomed into this old city by the most beautiful buildings and small side streets.  We walked through the winding side streets, constantly looking up as the buildings were beautiful and every time we walked down a street, we saw something new.  As you worked your way to the edge of the old town, the small streets brought you to the most stunning view points of Polignano.  Any time we walked through the old town, I felt like I was on a movie set.












Restaurants

The food we ate in Polignano was gorgeous, and there are still so many restaurants and cafe's we didn't make it to but we will next time.   Our favourite pizza was from Bella 'Mbriana in the old town.  The pizza's we ordered were delicious and the base was so thin.  They were all simple but so tasty.  Pizzas there ranged from €5-10.



Our favourite pasta was from Primi e Vini. Their menu was a little different as you got to choose the sauce of the pasta you wanted, with then 8 - 10 options of pasta too.  This pasta was freshly made by the chef and again it was unbelievable.  Pasta was from €9-13.



Our favourite cafe hands down had to be Serafina, partly because of a small balcony at the rear that sat only 2 people outside which overlooked the Adriatic sea.  I mean what more could you want!  You can book the balcony, which we did for a breakfast and sunset drinks, the view is crazy.  Absolutely stunning.  I could have sat there all day staring at the sea. The breakfast here was lovely, for €8 each it was a small buffet, which consisted of a hot drink, unlimited juice, water, fruit, meats and cheese, bread, cakes croissants etc.  It's really good value.








Our favourite focaccia was from Delle Noci which is just over the bridge by the beach.  We went here twice, ordered our focaccia and drinks, ate on the doorstep outside watching the world go by as we ate and chatted.  It was gorgeous and also very cheap. Our last time eating there we had 2 slices of focaccia, a beer and a Fanta and we got change out of a fiver!




Our favourite frozen yogurt was from Joya Canti di Stagione in the old town. They have some fantastic combinations on their menu. It is the perfect thing to eat when you are boiling and you need to feel refreshed.  These were €2.50 - 3.50 depending on the size you got.




Eating in Polignano can be done as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it.  As our B&B had a kitchen, we had some lunches and dinners in so we didn't spend too much, but also to note, tipping isn't done in Polignano.  Most restaurants and bars have a cover charge per person of maybe €2-2.50 per person so tipping is not needed.


Shopping 


Polignano mainly sells ceramics, jewellery, summery clothes and bikinis.  The ceramics are a really good price, if I was able to pack them and bring them home I really would have.  We did manage to get a few bits but not too much.  The clothes and bikinis I found expensive enough however.  Any shop I went into, a little dress that you would get here for around €40-50 would be €160, and a beach cover up similar to one in Penneys for €16 was €90.




Travelling around the Polignano/Puglia region


As we didn't have a car, we relied on the trains to travel to different places.  Since the weather was too hot the first week to sit out in, we used this time to explore Polignano and also travel to other cities close by.  We used Trenitalia for the train times and prices.  The trains aren't too often so you can't just rock up to the station and hope to catch one in 5 or 10 minutes, so a little planning is needed. Train tickets are bought in a local Tobacco shop beside the train station, and the journey themselves are quite cheap.  We went to Monopoli, Bari, Lecce and Alberobello.




Monopoli


Our first stop was Monopoli which was only 5 minutes on the train from Polignano and is such a pretty little town. It's right on the sea and had the smallest sandy beach too, which was full of locals just enjoying the weather with their family.  It's a small town but lovely to visit for half a day.








Bari


Bari is 30 minutes train ride from Polignano.  This is a bigger town than Polignano with your typical shops such as Zara, Sephora, Kiko etc.  It was a lot busier than Polignano and reminded us a little of Alicante town.  We wandered over from the shopping area to the old town, and again, the streets here are just gorgeous.  I loved walking around them, watching the locals go about their business.  I had researched Bari a little and saw they had Eataly there, which Will couldn't believe so we decided to walk there.  The walk was a lot longer than expected, and in that heat, it was very difficult, so if Eataly is somewhere you wanted to go to, get a taxi!   The best way I can describe Eataly is its similar to Fallon and Byrne, but 20 times the size!  It is a huge shop selling gorgeous Italian food products.  Their restaurant there too was so tasty and it is looks out over the beach so it's easy to make a day of it there.







Alberobello 


Trulli in Alberobello was somewhere I couldn't wait to go to after seeing the gorgeous pictures on Pinterest.  It looked so cute!!  To get here we had to get a train from Polignano to Bari, and then to Trulli.  It look an hour and a half, but if you had a car it only takes 25 minutes.  The town itself is so cute, with the tiny white washed houses with their cone shaped roofs. The roof is made from dry stone, as (a theory has it) due to high taxation on the property, when the tax inspectors were in the area they could be dismantled quickly!  The main area in Trulli was quite touristy (the first place we had really seen Irish people since we arrived in Italy) and some of the houses were little tourist shops selling the same things; pasta, aprons, tea towels, small figurines etc.  I'm really glad we went  but of everywhere we had been, it's not somewhere I would go back to.  Kind of, I've seen it and done it.






Lecce


We decided to go to Lecce the night before, so very little planning went into it.  This took an hour on train from Polignano and with the little research we put into it, we were delighted we went.  It was stunning.  The buildings were so gorgeous and the town was scattered with gorgeous churches.  They also had a small roman amphitheatre which was deadly to see.  Neither Will or I have been to Rome, but after visiting Lecce, Rome is now definitely on our list.






This was the first holiday in a long time where both of us actually didn't want to go home.  We both just loved it and we are trying to figure out when we can go back!





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