Grotta Palazzese or Cave Palace: Named since the Marquis Leto, feudal lords of Polignano, included it in the early eighteenth century in the family property, the Palazzese cave is a bit ‘unmistakable landmark. The Palazzese is the largest of all the coastal caves. You can access the cave is from the ground, through a narrow staircase carved into the rock artificially commissioned by the family of the Marquis Leto, both from the sea via two portals natural that spread inside to join in the large central cavern. A large terrace, an arch made of natural, allows visitors to admire in all its majestic beauty, the wonder marine beautifully carved over thousands of years by the action of destructive sea. Inside is a vast semi-circular, with a diameter of 30 meters, communicating with a second smaller room with access to the sea and small pebble beach at the bottom. In Grotticella Under Favale, the sea floor is invaded by enormous masses of collapse that constitute an ideal habitat for fish, as demonstrated by patients fishermen who have the custom to spend part of their free time on this stretch of coast. Speaking of small Grotticella Under Favale, they were found fragments of large vats dating back to Roman times, confirming the presence of an ancient Roman colony production in Polignano.
Continuing in the excursion we come across the Grotta Ardito, it is a very large cave situated below the large balcony of Largo Ardito. Dug and built by the priest Giuseppe Ardito, in 1824, the little house that today gives its name to the cave below, as the entrance from the ground of the cave with forty steps made in silica.
The tours of Sofia offer the opportunity to dive and dive into the water in front of the blue-painted rocks of Santo Stefano, of Saracen origin, overlooking “Lama Monachile” and its famous beach, creating the most photographed glimpse of Polignano.
The island of San Paolo is about 300 meters away from the cliffs of Polignano at 20 metres above the sea level, in the Southern part of the city. To locals it is well-known as “Scoglio dell’ Eremita” ( the hermit cliffs) since, according to the legend, a man settled there to live a solitary life away from the world.
The island top is the site of the remains of the chapel of Saint Antonio Abate (1612),on the rock you can also admire an ancient well for the collection of rainwater and an iron-cross fixed there by missionaries in 1901 on the occasion of the celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint Vito.
The “Pigeons Cave” which, apart from being one of the biggest , is certainly one of the most interesting caves thanks to numerous and important Neolithic finds. The cave is of such a striking beauty that local painters, and not only, have drawn inspiration for their paintings. It can be divided into three different parts, but only one is accessible through submerged underwater passages.
Long 12 km. from coast of the territory of Polignano a mare is present some coastal towers, key elements of a rational defensive system and territorial fact to realize after 1529, in consequence of the numerous piratical attacks that interested this area.
The Polignano territory is characterized by an interesting system of creeks, perpendicular to the coastline, no more than 100 – 150 meters wide and up to 3 km long. The most popular one is Lama Monachile, which can be admired from some of the typical balconies in the historical centre or from the bridge above.
Lama Monachile offers the visitors a landscape of amazing beauty which has made the city of Polignano a Mare famous all over the world. The Creek, an ancient inlet of a former river, represents also a cultural – historical heritage of remarkable interest; it was the ancient port of the city and still keeps numerous features dating back to the Roman Empire, such as the Via Traiana.
To the North side of the city, between Cala Paura and Lama Monachile, we can see the Grottone, with two smaller caves inside. The first one, the Grottone of Cala Paura, is a modest shelter under the rock . It develops vertically and is partially masked by a wall that might date back to the end of last the century as a part of the construction works for the first civic bathing resort. The second cave is the “Blue Grotto”. A shallow passage between the surface of the sea and the rock leading to a three- meter high cave. On the right, a few meters from the entrance, there is a natural submarine window that, in particular conditions, offers wonderful blue light effects. At the bottom, a little sandy beach to lie on and enjoy the natural light performance.
As far as the “Grotta dell’ Arcivescovado” , it is a popular belief that this cave used to be the exit point of secret underground passages from the Episcopal palace, allowing prelates from Polignano an easy escape from the attacks of the enemies in the past. As a matter of fact this wide rectangular shaped cave of marine – karstic genesis, does not keep any secrets at all, the narrow passage being naturally impracticable after few meters.
The two “Pietro and Paolo”Caves, considering that they lay very close, have been registered with the same name by speleologists, although local fishermen are not pleased about that. Cave number 1, the southernmost, is easily recognizable because it opens some meters above the sea level and is characterized by a great natural column regulating the double entrance to the cave. Pietro and Paolo Cave number 2 opens adjacent to cave number 1. Its entrance opens on the surface of the water giving shape to a shallow basin. A tiny strip emerging from the water runs along the inner perimeter of the cave.
A bit further we run into the “Grotta delle Monache”. According to the local tradition, nuns from the near hospital used to go there during the beautiful summer season to enjoy bathing safe from prying eyes. Furthermore, in order to allow them an easy access, a little underground passage had been dug. The “Grotta delle Monache” has a single cave descending towards a little beach.