Polignano is a pearl, positioned
on a steep sea cliff dotted with grottos and history along
the splendid Adriatic coast of Puglia.
Its origins are ancient and connected to the Greek City of
Neapolis (IV Century BC), which then became known as Polisnea
Its territory further North however, was inhabited during
the last Ice Age (10.000 years ago), and testimony of villages
dating back to the Bronze Age (3.500-1.200 BC) have been uncovered
in the present day historical centre.
Polignano was annexed to the Republic by Rome in 270 BC, after
the end of the wars with Pirro, and became a statio due to
the immense production of grain and its commercial centre
and coastal position along via Traiana, which connected Brindisi
to the capital. Its geographic position guaranteed wealth
and splendour for the entire Emperial reign and only ended
with the fall of Rome and subsequent Goth and Vandal invasions
(V Century AD).
After the Greek-Gothic War (535-553) won by General Balisario,
Polignano became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, and experienced
centuries of Longobard (VII Century), Arabic (IX Century)
and once again Byzantine (IX-XI Century) domination.
The arrival of the Normans (XI Century) coincided with the
beginning of a period of development for Puglia, thus compensating
many years of war. The process was reinforced in Polignano
due to the presence of powerful Benedictine Monks, who built
the San Vito Abbey during this period.
It passed under Swabian domination thanks to the marriage
between Enrico VI and Costanza of Altavilla (1186) and remained
under their direct administration until the advent of the
Angioini (1266), who undertook the fortification of the suburb
against possible Turkish invasion.
For a brief period, Polignano was under Venetian domination
(1506) and then the Reign of Italy, which in time order was
succeeded by the Spanish Crown (XVII Century).
Polignano was struck by the plague in 1690 and during the
subsequent century became Bourbon property, following the
historical course of the Reign of the Two Sicilies. The City
actively participated in the diffusion of Republican ideas,
hosting a Carbonara vendita (Smaller city associations linked
to the Carbonari movement which promoted independent ideas).
The following year it took on the name of Polignano a Mare.
Just outside the City, one can visit the Putignano Grotto,
lined with pinkish alabaster, the San Michele Crypt, once
dedicated to Apollo and the Marchione Castle (1730).
Today’s Polignano a Mare rightly belongs among the most
popular touristic metas of Puglia, thanks to its rather particular
coastal reef feature, along which open natural grottos, and
also to numerous monuments and buildings of historical and
cultural interest conserved in its centre.
Among these, we can point out: the Chiesa Matrice (Matrix
Church - 1295) in Romanesque style and the Medieval Santa
Stefano Church, which has been deconsecrated.
Walking through the historical centre made up of white stone
paved alleyways, Medieval glimpses with Adriatic sea views
and delightful traditional restaurants, is a experience which
makes a visit to Polignano a Mare worthwhile.
Domenico Modugno, an unforgettable master of popular Italian
music, was born here.