History

Small town along the Apulian coast, placed 40 kms South of Bari, Polignano a Mare overlooks the sea on a spectacular cliff 20 metres high, inside which are numerous and wide grottoes. Since the Palaeolithic, the territory was definitely settlement for groups of people that found a shelter in the natural grottoes. Yet, the history of Polignano is more certain after the year 1000. The first written document, which refers to Polignano a Mare, dates back to 992 b.C.: the news before this date, are wrapped in the charm of legend, which tells us about people living in the village of San Vito and who escaped the terrible violence of Diomede, finding a refuge in a new city, that in greek is polis nea. It’s probably from the words polis nea, that come the name of Polignano.

After joining the Eastern Roman Empire, Polignano experienced many dominations, like the Longobards and the Arabians.  With the marriage of Henry VI and Costanza D’Altavilla (1186) it passed under the Swabians and remained till the Angevin’s coming (1266), who fortified the village to protect themselves from ottoman invasions. They strengthen the trade relations with the other coastal centers with a massive presence of businessman. During the Aragonese domination, the Venitian merchants developed and took over the trade activities in 1506 and, soon after it was the time of the Reign of Naples, to which the Spanish reign followed. Hit by the plague in 1690, Polignano became part of the Bourbon reign and in the XVII Century it became a strategic point for the trade routes and for the control of maritime traffic over the illegal landings. In the XIX century, after the Risorgimento uprisings, which led to the unification of Italy (1861), Polignano finally became part of the Reign of Italy, under the Savoy family. In 1962 the town got the current name of Polignano a Mare.