What to visit in Monopoli?
Updated: May 31, 2022
The next step of our trip is the city of Monopoli. Surely, we are not talking about the board game that everyone knows, but about the beautiful port city on the Adriatic. Its crystal-clear waters, its coves, its wide and sandy beaches, the blue of the sea reflected in the whitewashed houses, and the old harbor with its characteristic little boats, will make you fall in love with this super lively city. The dreamy sea mixes with the historic center where the profile of the castle, the ancient walls, and the Venetian palaces make it very picturesque. Monopoli's origins date back to a mighty Messapian fortress in ancient Apulia (Peucezia) and the traces of Venetian and Spanish rule are scattered throughout the town. Ready to take lots of photos in the beautiful Apulian village? Let’s go parrots!
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What not to miss?
A stone's throw from the ancient harbor, it is possible to reach the historic center. Wandering through the alleyways (Via Orazio Comes, Via Santa Maria) and shops are the perfect way to explore this precious village. The beauty of monopoly is its proximity to other villages such as Polignano a Mare and San Vito, which are magnificent. Discover with us the wonders not to be missed.
Ancient Port of Monopoli
First of all, you need to know that Monopoli was the most important port halfway between the cities of Bari and Brindisi, allowing increasing trade to take place. So, the port seems to be the oldest part of the town and its charm is proudly preserved. This is one of the reasons why the city is called that, from the Greek Μονής Πόλις, a city considered to be a strong landing place. Typical boats, shipyards in the distance, and important buildings transform the place into a charming and relaxing atmosphere.
Norman Castle of Charles V
Characterized by a pre-existing cylindrical tower of Roman form, it is a fortress that seems to have been built during Spanish rule. Built on a relief that goes by the name of Punta Pinna, to the left of the tower a well-preserved part of the ancient walls, the gunnery, and the weapons room are still visible. Going all the way around the ramparts that protected the city, you can reach the area known as Porta Cala Vecchia. This is the beach most frequented by locals, you will see it as you continue along the road and realize you have arrived at the coast.
Cathedral of Maria Santissima of Madia
Also known as Monopoli Cathedral, this 18th-century architectural gem is dedicated to the city's patron saint. A legend behind this church is based on a story that says that one night a raft carrying the image of the Madonna Madia arrived in the harbor and, as a result, the cathedral was completed with its wood. The marble-covered interior and exceptional Baroque interior art will leave you speechless.
Garibaldi square and Civic Tower
The center of Monopoli's Movida is full of clubs, bars, and attractions, restaurants, taverns, everything you need to spend your wonderful Apulian evenings. Also, it is ideal for a picturesque promenade. In this square you can admire, the municipal tower is one of the symbols of Monopoli. If you notice, the tower faces the Porto Vecchio, welcoming those who landed in that part of the port where the raft with the icon of Maria SS of Madia miraculously landed. The tower houses a clock and a bell tower whose chimes were a warning sign of danger.
What else to visit?
Seafront of Santa Maria
A wonderful promenade along this promenade will be very pleasant, with the echo of the sea, the snowy white of the houses, the waves crashing against the cliffs, and reaching as far as Bastione Santa Maria, once a point unassailable by enemies.
A few kilometers from Monopoli are the Castellana caves, splendid rock formations, and an opportunity to visit a magnificent natural complex. The route inside the caves is really exciting! The most beautiful thing is definitely the white cave but in general, the atmosphere inside the caves is like a fantasy film.
Beaches of Monopoli
The great beauty of the landscape of the coastal strip is undoubtedly the beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and the coves, inlets with rocky outlines such as Calette del Clio, Cala del Pantano, Cala Cozze, Cala Paradiso, Cala Sottile, Cala Susca, Porto Bianco, Porto Rosso, Porto Nero, Porto Verde, Porto Camicia, Porto Marzano.
Did you know that Monopoli is divided into 99 “contrade”? That is to say, districts full of “masserie”, “Casali” and rupestrian churches, each with its own characteristics, monuments, and historical sites. The best known are Masseria Caramanna and Masseria Spina Grande. Each tells its own story through testimonies that preserve the culinary traditions of the hinterland.
How to travel there?
Monopoli cannot be reached by plane as the city has no airport. If you decide to fly, you could land at Bari Airport (Aeroporto Internazionale di Bari-Karol Wojtyla), then take an underground train to Bari Centrale. From Bari Centrale take a regional train to Monopoli, as the station is very close to the historic center. Another alternative is to land at Brindisi Aeroporto (Del Salento Airport), take an STP bus (www.stpbrindisi.it) to Brindisi railway station and then a train to Monopoli railway station.
Another solution would be a bus with a stop in Monopoli departing from lots of cities in Italy.
Finally, rent a car considering these two possibilities: from the A14 Bologna-Bari motorway, exit at Bari Nord, and take the SS 16 in the direction of Brindisi. From Brindisi - Lecce: SS 16 in the direction of Bari. The latter would be the best option as not all seaside towns can be reached by train. So, getting around would become easier.
According to your preferences, the cost of living for a tourist is different based on the categories.
Concerning the food, Monopoli is not expensive, so you can find a meal in the restaurant between 10-15€ easily. In a medium restaurant, a meal for 2 People, can be approximately 50 euros.
The accommodation is the thing on which maybe you will spend more money. Of course, depending on the season prices can vary a lot, the minimum price per night is 40 € for a B&B. But you can find 1-2 hotels with the price of 70-90 per night. Obviously, prices go up if you choose better hotels.
As for the transportation, a bus ticket is 1€ while for a train it depends on the route. It can start from 4 euros to 15. For example, Bari to Monopoli is 3,40 € per ticket.
When to travel there?
Certainly, the best months to visit Apulia and enjoy all the beauty of the coast, the sea, and the warm days are the summer months between June and September. But obviously, they are also the busiest. Opting for months like the beginning of June or the beginning of September is perhaps the best choice to avoid running into the peak of the summer season. In general, Monopoli has activity all year round, and perhaps this is an opportunity to enjoy the tranquillity of a walk among the olive trees in the contrade far from the August nightlife.
What to eat?
Typical dishes reminiscent of tradition, memories, smells, and flavors of yesteryear are discovered through Apulian cuisine. Let's see some Monopoli specialties together.
Puccia is a typical Apulian sandwich made from the same dough as pizza, filled with a variety of ingredients: from the simplest fillings such as cold meats and cheeses to grilled vegetables or vegetables in oil, such as aubergines, peppers, courgettes, and tomatoes. Strolling through the alleyways, the Puccia is a must: a simple, tasty, take-away dish. We recommend you try the Puccia in the restaurants “The king street food” or “Atipico” right in the center of Monopoli. The most popular Puccia here is the one with octopus.
Sweet almond pastries are made from a shortcrust pastry shell filled with jam, small enough to be eaten in one bite. The great thing is that you can find this cake in many versions in many regions of Italy.
Crispy golden pillows filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, the Panzerotto is a typical fast-food dish. Crispy on the outside and stringy on the inside, it can be filled with many different ingredients. We recommend you try it at the Madia restaurant, order it and then eat it along the sea view walls.
To discover more food from the Puglia region, read our article about the food in the Puglia region.
Monopoli has plenty of events since each district hosts several festivals, such as the Festa in Contrada Cristo Re (festival of bruschetta, typical sweets, and homemade ice cream), Festa in Contrada Losciale (festival of roast octopus), Festa in the Contrada Antonelli (festival of orecchiette pasta), held during the summer.
Sudestival (February - March)
Festival with the theme of cinema where the program is based on the screening of works, shorts, and documentaries and which includes an award ceremony with the "Silver Lighthouse of the City of Monopoli".
Ritratti Festival (August)
An event featuring music in the city's old town, with many guests, including jazz, electronic and experimental music. The program features many music-related themes where the town center becomes a big stage. Thematic concerts are combined with theatre, poetry, dance, and visual arts. Another music-related festival is Amici Della Musica, held in April.
St Lucia Fair (13th December)
One of the best-known events, as it is a religious festival celebrating the saint of the city. Via Cavour' gets crowded with a rich market that is always open. Nativity decorations, toys, and the traditional 'Coccheriddi' (small terracotta bowls) are the main items on display. This event kicks off the big December festivities such as the feast in honor of the Madonna Della Madia, and of course, Christmas.
Other events which might interest you: La Notte dei Falò (19th March), Monopolele (May), PROSPERO FEST (June), Costa Dei Trulli (July), Alba di Note - Un tuffo nella tradizione (September).
We hope that this article interested you, you can read also our article about visiting Lecce and visiting Bari, which are also in the Puglia region, or the best of Cinque Terre. Follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted a new article is published.