Monopoli lies a short distance from Bari, just down the coast from the popular Polignano a Mare. This is a place where you can enjoy the laid-back, slow way of life. Unlike many other seaside ‘resorts’ in Italy, Monopoli retains an old-town feel. This is partly because the many English and German tourists that flock to Italy every year often overlook it. Instead, this is a place where Italians take their holidays.
Even if just for a day, Monopoli is worth visiting for a paddle in its waters, a stroll round its streets and a lunch in one of its cafés. The town’s history is very much still present. For instance, its fortified sea-front walls and the castle that lies on its promontory indicate its important past. In fact, the castle attests to its role as part of a coastal fortification system put in place in the 16th Century by Charles V of Spain. Much before this time, in the 1000-1400s, Monopoli was part of the Amalfi and Venice Marine Republics. Within the town you will also find the Monopoli Cathedral. The most impressive feature of this building is its almost 200ft-high bell tower that was erected in the late 1600s. All in all, you will find 19 Medieval churches in this historical center!
On the town’s Piazza del XX Settembre, you will find a bustling street market, which can be a lovely and atmospheric place to walk through. Alternatively, you can also visit the small port, called Molo Vecchio. This is simply enchanting with its gentle waters lapping against the characteristic blue fishing boats. Monopoli also has many small and picturesque beaches. These are popular, but remain relatively peaceful given their size.
Just a short distance outside of Monopoli, you will find the Castellana Grottos. These caves make for an incredibly interesting day trip, with their magical stalactites and rock formations.
The nearest airport to Monopoli is Bari, which is also the nearest large train station. You can arrive in the town by car or train; the old town is within easy walking distance from the train station.