Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Polignano a Mare worthy of a 4 night visit?

Polignano a Mare worthy of a 4 night visit?

Old Mar 11th, 2015, 08:26 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Polignano a Mare worthy of a 4 night visit?

Hello again,
Researching the Italian leg of our next (2016 ) European adventure, we have heard a number of recommendations - from sources other than Fodors - for visiting Polignano a Mare near Bari in Italy's Puglia region.

These recommendations have also included a "don't miss" dining experience at the unique Ristorante Grotta Palazzese.

Although I have yet to see a less than positive view on visiting Polignano, the opposite is true for visiting the restaurant. I don't think I have ever before read so many polar opposite views for dining at a restaurant.

On the one hand, "Fantastic service; beautifully presented fresh food and, though expensive, great value for money". Versus, "Do not waste your money! The service is outright rude; the food is stale and ordinary and it is the worst-valued restaurant in Italy!"
Apparently they also impose a mandatory minimum order of 3 courses per diner!

We are planning to stay 4 nights in the Polignano a Mare town (Casa Dorsi B&B) and were hoping for some feedback from the well-travelled fodorites out there on:

• The town itself
• The Casa Dorsi B&B accommodation
• and finally whether the Grotta Palazzese restaurant is worth the trouble.

Thank you in advance and regards, Steve
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 09:09 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm not sure how to answer your question about staying in Polignano a Mare. If you make it a base for that part of Puglia, it might be worth 4 nights. But it all depends on what you want to do, your preferred pace of travel, etc. I only spent a few hours there, and thought the lungomare quite pleasant.

I had dinner at the Grotta Palazzese in 2006 (I went to Polignano a Mare specifically to dine there), and at that time, it was worth the raves it was then consistently getting. The service and food were absolutely outstanding, and that setting -- OMG, that setting!!!! I had a 3-course meal there, but don't believe it was mandatory, at least at that time. Since then, I know that the reviews have become less positive, but can't speak to the reasons. Since my experience is so dated, I'm not sure you should give it much weight (if any!), but if you do go, I would recommend that you reserve, and reserve well in advance!

Sorry I can't be more helpful....
kja is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 10:05 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi kja. Not at all, all experiences are helpful. With regard to our preferred pace of travel - we essentially like a slower-pace but like most people are governed by the time we have at our disposal. Basically, if the "must-see" sights of Rome, Paris and London were all in Polignano, then we would ensure we saw them all. On the other hand if there was not much else other than the town and the incredible coastline to see, we would be happy to take the break for 3 days and enjoy it. This is our penultimate stop (we fly out of Rome) from a total of 9 weeks travelling Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and other parts of Italy so we are always happy for a scenic breather

That said, if you can recommend other parts of Puglia that can be seen as day trips from Polignano then please let me know. We don't like to miss worthwhile sights if they are close to our base.
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 10:30 PM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You'll have to check on transportation times, but as I recall, there are several places you could see as day trips from Polignano a Mare:
- Trani has a fabulous and unusual sea-side cathedral and a lovely, vibrant harbor area.
- Alberobello has a particularly dense concentration of trulli -- easily worth a few hours, probably not more.
- Lecce is justifiably known for the exuberrance of its Baroque architecture. I'm actually not that fond of Baroque, and even so, could not stop smiling as I admired the playfulness and extraordinary skill of those who created Lecce's Baroque masterpieces. And Lecce also has Greek and Roman structures.... (I wish I'd given more than 1.5 days in Lecce.)
- Bari is supposed to have a very nice old section. (Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit it. )

I believe that all of these places are accessible by train -- there were when I was there.

And OMG, you are going to have such a wonderful trip!
kja is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 10:48 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you kja, haha we hope it will be wonderful. It is a long time away from home but when travelling from Australia it simply is not worth going for 3 weeks. This will be our third trip during the past 5 years and the first two were absolutely wonderful. We can't wait to return. Spain and Portugal is a first for us - Switzerland and Italy (except for Polignano) is just because we loved it the first time!

Thanks for the your day trip suggestions, I look forward to researching them.
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 11:06 PM
  #6  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, 3 months is a long time -- but as you say, it makes sense! That's part of why I haven't been to Australia yet. ;-) I've managed up to a month at a time -- works for me so far. Of the places you plan to visit on this journey, I've been to central & southern Spain (loved it!), am planning northern Spain (so excited!), adored my month in Switzerland, loved two trips to Italy (totaling 6 weeks), and keep finding Portugal in my runner-up list (SO looking forward to getting there one day!) We are SO lucky to be able to travel!

BTW, if you can find one, you might want to get a copy of the Rough Guide to Puglia....
kja is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 11:27 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will keep an eye out for the guide. Yes we also loved our time in Switzerland. We visited a lot of the same places as you (I have read your trip report ) and also loved using the Swiss Pass. We once had to make 3 connections all of which were under 5 minutes and we made them all with time to spare. If the train is 1 minute late - update your watch! Amazing people. We will be visiting Zurich for 2 nights and are returning to spend a week in Brienz to revisit the OB, Lucerne and Bern.
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2015, 11:30 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oops - sorry, "BO"!
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 02:49 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 7,113
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No probelm: OB is just the French version for BO!

Polignano is a small town on a cliff over the Adriatic Sea. As it is centrally located, you can make all kinds of day trips to both, beaches and sights (Castellana Caves, Alberobello, Ostuni, Egnazia excavations, Torre Guaceto Marine park and unspoilt beaches, Cisternino, Lecce .....
neckervd is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 03:12 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are probably many, many restaurants in Polignano a Mare who cater to tourists who don't want to eat a 3 course dinner -- which is the cultural norm in Italy for a restaurant meal -- but I don't think a unique restaurant like Grotta Palazzese should be slammed for requiring it, and I don't think people should go to the restuarant unless they intend to eat a full dinner. I've never been to Grotta Pallazese but recently I went to a rooftop restaurant in Florence with a spectacular panoramic view, and to sit and eat a meal (rather than have a drink and snacks at the bar), there was a 3-course per person minimum. I had no trouble understanding the policy in town loaded with tourists. I also had no trouble meeting the requirement. A typical Italian meal is a starter course while you wait for your pasta to cook, followed by pasta, followed by protein or veg course. In fact, most people dining in a place as special as Grotta Palazzese will have dessert too, and possibly an after dinner drink. You own the table for the night, so you might as well have a slower meal and enjoy the setting for having come that far. It's not just "dinner.
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 05:21 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi neckervd, thanks for the suggestions. I will add them to the day trips kja mentioned. It sounds like we will have plenty of options if we run out of things to see and do in Polignano.

Hello sandralist. I take your point and didn't mean to offend. I guess the 3-course minimum was just one more grievance raised by a number of people (and is a little "alien" to me) but otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it. That particular complaint is by no means the focus of whether or not we should dine there.

I totally agree with your reference to fine dining or dining with unparalleled views. My wife and I have happily paid a premium when warranted for a worthwhile restaurant.

I have no problem with the expense - if justified;
I certainly don't doubt the amazing view or unique ambiance;
However, if the quality of the food is poor and the wait staff are rude and unhelpful, then the view alone would not represent value for money IMHO.

I am simply hoping for some recent, positive experiences from fellow posters - because we really would like to go there
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 06:51 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,963
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Can't help with that restaurant but I will say I enjoyed spending 4 days in Polignano. We did day trips but each evening had dinner in town and loved the sunsets (weird since it's on the east coast) and wandering around the town at dusk and as the lights came on. We visited all the towns suggested above, also spend a few days in Lecce to visit the towns in that area, but you do Lecce as a day trip from Polignano as well.

Here's my trip report and link to my photos - http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ast-puglia.cfm
isabel is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 09:52 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You didn't offend me in the slightest. I only wanted to emphasize that the complaints you are discovering are from people who really don't understand Italian eating habits. I am sure you can name a "special occasion restaurant" in your own home town where most people would never dream of reserving a table and then showing up and ordering just a bowl of soup for dinner. Management might even say something. A place like Grotta Pallazese is very much a special occasion destination, like the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Most Italians -- especially in southern Italy -- do not go out to dinner at a restaurant very often. So when they do, it is for a special reason. Of course tourists are pretty much stuck with eating in restaurants twice a day, and in places like Polignano a Mare, they have gotten used to catering to tourists from other countries who normally expect to order only one course in restaurant -- at most two -- or who come from a country where pasta is served as a main course.

That is just as weird in Italy as it would be for Italians to go to a restaurant in the US or Britain and ask to have their potatoes served before their meat or fish was served.

Sorry I can't help with quality of food issues at Grotta Pallazese from personal experience.
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 11:33 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7,110
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We were in Puglia in October, we stayed in Lecce for 4 nights and in the country at a Masseria near Ostuni for 5 nights. We had a car (my husband is an Aussie too and did all the driving with no trouble) so we did lots of day trips. There are many lovely spots to visit as people have already mentioned, and we found the food to be delicious and fresh everywhere we went.

No personal experience with the restaurant you are interested in but having read 7 pages of it's reviews on TA and being pretty good at sorting the wheat from the chaff so to speak I would be really wary of dining there.

I am totally in agreement with what sandra says about the 3 courses and I also think how you are dressed plays into it, can't believe one reviewer turned up with a bunch of his friends in their bicycling clothes for lunch and was surprised to get snotty treatment.

However, there were enough reviews from people who were okay with the 3 courses and the high price, the more formal atmosphere etc but felt the food was really sub standard for the price and rude service etc to give me pause.

If it is really on your must do list then book in advance, dress the part and be prepared to spend a whole bunch of money and be disappointed…or maybe not. Bit of a gamble really.

Enjoy your trip, it sounds like a good one!
raincitygirl is online now  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 11:49 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,850
Likes: 0
Received 7 Likes on 1 Post
We spent a couple weeks in Puglia. For one of our bases we stayed not too far from Polignano and spent several evenings there. I thought it a lovely, small town and we had a couple good meals. They have a great gelato place right on the main street-can't recall the name, but it might be in our TR. Didn't eat at the restaurant you are asking about. I think as a base to explore other parts of Puglia it will be fine. Puglia is a nice area to explore - lots of small towns and several interesting sights.
yestravel is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 06:24 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you Isabel for the trip report - very helpful. Thank you also yestravel, we are very comfortable now with the idea of staying in Polignano and taking a few day trips.

Raincitygirl, we have almost identical views on visiting that restaurant. I have the same approach as you when reading TA reports - there are always the posters who gripe for the sake of it and so I tend to disregard those and move on. However, the shear number of poor reviews got me a little hesitant. Then again, like you say, if we really want to experience the place, the worst that can happen is we waste some euros. C'est la vie - or is it cosi e la vita?

Thank you all so much for your helpful suggestions and sharing your experiences.
steve_Australia is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 06:29 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 10,065
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bookmarking
Sassafrass is online now  
Old Mar 12th, 2015, 06:37 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7,110
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
steve, I hope if you do end up trying the restaurant you will report back to us! If you are in Lecce at dinner time we had a very good meal here: La Torre di Merlino, via giambattista del tufo, 10, 73100 Lecce.

They do pizzas as well at dinner but I think you have to ask for the pizza menu. ( the pizzas are said to be very good)
We did not have pizza, we had 3 courses each and it was delicious!
raincitygirl is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Truffles
Europe
13
Jan 30th, 2018 11:07 PM
lowcountrycarol
Europe
7
Mar 4th, 2017 09:17 AM
drkathej
Europe
23
Sep 15th, 2016 01:14 PM
PSGMARTINO
Europe
48
Sep 8th, 2013 06:46 AM
chucktown_dobbs
Europe
37
Nov 3rd, 2012 05:08 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:43 AM.