Day trip 6 itinerary
Our sixth and final day trip took us to the beautiful seaside town of Polignano a Mare and then back down the region to Martina Franca.
Polignano a Mare
As mentioned in my prior post, there were two towns on our Puglia itinerary that were sure to be the highlights of our trip. Alberobello was one and Polignano a Mare was the other.
We departed our masseria immediately following breakfast and drove north about 18 (49 km) miles to Polignano a Mare. Parking in Polignano a Mare was different than in previous towns. Instead of large car parks on the outskirts of the town, the car parks were small and hidden in empty lots where buildings may have once stood.
We parked here for a couple of Euros and it was a bit of a mystery as to how far we’d have to walk to the centro storico but it turned out to be a pretty good location with only a 10-minute walk to the main road.
The weather was temperamental during our visit. It was cloudy when we arrived, then it started sprinkling, then it stopped sprinkling, and then the sky turned black and we could hear thunderclaps in the distance. This was the telltale sign that our time in Polignano a Mare was about to come to an unwanted and abrupt end.
Our visit was divided into three planned photo spots.
The first photo spot was from Ponte Borbonico su Lama Monachile where the photos above and below were taken from slightly different angles.
The weather conditions were poor and we were standing on the side of the busy bridge, being blown around by the wind and bumped into by strangers and yet I found myself absolutely mesmerized by the view. At that moment, I knew Polignano a Mare was a special place.
We crossed the bridge and walked through the centro storico to our second photo spot. The centro storico was a mixture of whitewashed buildings, yellow limestone buildings, and buildings painted in vibrant colors.
It was the vibrant-colored buildings that made this centro storico unique, at least from my perspective.
By the time we reached our second photo spot, the wind had picked up and the waves were crashing below us as we stood on the small terrace sandwiched between the centro storico and the Adriatic Sea.
It was yet another stunning view.
Polignano a Mare is most notably known for its poetry which is inscribed on buildings in the centro storico and for being the host of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series that occurs every June.
Disappointedly, we only stumbled on two pieces of poetry. I think with suitable weather a little Sherlock Holmes behavior, things would have been different.
On our walk back to the main road, we found a hidden terrace with a unique view of the beach. I’d seen photos like the one below while researching this holiday but I assumed they were taken with a drone due to the unique vantage point.
After reaching the main road, we turned right and crossed over the bridge (seen in the photo above) and then hooked another right so that we were walking toward the sea. We soon arrived at our third photo spot.
We spent the majority of our time at the third photo spot even though it was completely exposed to the elements. I think I was in a trance. The town is incredibly beautiful, even in miserable weather.
We decided to crawl off of the rocky outcrop and call it quits in Polignano a Mare when the thunder frequency and volume picked up.
We grabbed a bite to eat on our way back to the car and then drove to Martina Franca.
The drive from Polignano a Mare to Martina Franca was long and slow. It took ~50 minutes plus some additional time in Martina Franca itself due to traffic.
As we approached Martina Franca, I remember traffic jams, a big farmer’s market being dismantled in a park, cars honking, cars triple parked on the side of the road, and what felt like “no entry” signs at every junction. Driving in Martina Franca was as chaotic as driving in Lecce on flooded roads.
We finally made it to the vicinity of our targeted car park but the maze of one-way streets had a different plan for us and we settled on parking slightly further away from the centro storico in the hospital car park here.
We hopped out of the car, paid to park, and slogged up the hill to Piazza XX Settembre. We entered the centro storico through the Baroque gate off of Piazza XX Settembre.
It was very quiet in the centro storico – the complete opposite of the craziness that was taking place on the roads on the outskirts of the town.
Sometimes I felt like we were wandering around an empty movie production set. It was quintessentially European.
Martina Franca was the last town on our itinerary and I had mixed feelings about our holiday coming to an end.
Martina Franca was deserted with the exception of a few people in the piazza in front of the Basilica di San Martino. Kids chased each other and sprinted around the piazza whilst adults sipped on espresso at the café.
We saw many basilicas during our week in Puglia but I most-liked the Basilica di San Martino for no reason other than there was actual life happening around it. The people and activity in the piazza made it feel real, normal, pre-covid.
A few steps from the basilica was another piazza with a section of curved buildings and a view of the basilica peeking through a gap between two buildings. This vantage point of the basilica was an accidental find and is one of my favorite photos from our holiday.
The piazza with the curved buildings was my favorite of our holiday. In addition to the unique curved buildings, the stone in Martina Franca was similar to the stone in Lecce and had a yellow/rose color versus stark white.
Our visit to Martina Franca was short, the second-shortest of our holiday. On our way out of the centro storico, we popped into a café. It was just about to close for afternoon siesta. We stood at the bar, ordered two macchiatos, and knocked them back like shots of tequila as they turned off the lights.
We rounded out the day/holiday with a couple of cocktails in Ostuni and dinner in Cisternino. The following day we flew back to London and 18 days later, on October 15th, Italy was removed from England’s travel corridors list due to a rise in cases (though Italy’s cases are still far less than the UK’s number of cases per 100,000).
On October 25th, Italy recorded its highest number of new daily cases with 21,273. Italy’s prior highest number of new daily cases was on March 21st with 6,557. There is a lot more testing taking place now than in March so comparing these two figures is somewhat flawed but cases are no longer holding steady in Italy, or anywhere in Europe at the moment.
The explosion of cases in Italy is again concentrated in northern Italy and the region we visited, Lecce, has the lowest case numbers in the country. Per the New York Times (as of October 25th), Milan has one positive case for every 66 people and Lecce has one positive case for every 759 people. Meanwhile, in England, the Greater Manchester region in northern England has one case for every 34 people and London has one case for every 98 people.
Things will probably be pretty quiet on this blog for the next several months. We typically do not travel during this time of year and, as of now, we are locked on this tiny island in the North Sea with Brexit barreling toward us on December 31, 2020. What a way to close out this year, huh?
Our next adventure is a skiing holiday in Kitzbuhel and St. Anton in Austria at the end of January, however, a lot can happen between now and then. I look forward to a world with a bit more certainty in the near future.