Guide to Monopoli, Puglia

February 17, 2019

The beautiful region of Puglia in Italy has many towns to find yourself lost in. Last time we spoke about Italy, I was reliving walking through the streets of Trulli in Alberobello, a World Heritage Site filled with tiny white buildings. Today, I'm still sharing the adventures from our weekend trip to Puglia, but bringing you to Monopoli, and the things that you can see and do in this town. 

Guide to Monopoli, Puglia

As we had to make the drive back to Passo for the final week of excavation, we were only able to make a short trip into the town of Monopoli. In the few hours, we wandered the lazy seaside town, and discovered many gems.

A short history of Monopoli

Monopoli's name translates to 'only city', after inhabitants of Gnathia fled here in AD 545, when Ostrogoth King Total destroyed their city. The town now has a population of c. 50,000 inhabitants and functions as an agricultural, industrial and tourist spot.

Things to see in Monopoli

Visiting the town on a slow Sunday restricted most of our visit to wandering the quiet streets and taking in the beauty of the buildings. White washed buildings line the streets, with beautiful blooms of flowers framing doorways and filling window boxes, while potted cacti stand tall against the buildings.

Wandering around the town, I lost track counting how many churches we passed - in fact, the old town of Monopoli is home to no less than 19 Medieval churches and cathedrals. Each church exceeds the last in decor, with uniquely beautiful designs carved into the stone.

One of the churches that immediately caught my attention was Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffragio delta del Purgatorio, which dominates the street aptly named Via Purgatorio. The outside is decorated with carved skulls and skeletons - an unusual form of decoration for a church, and something I haven't seen outside of graveyards and cemeteries. The history of the church is extremely interesting, as it is a church of Purgatory. The church was built in the 17th Century, after the Protestant Reformation argued ideas such as Purgatory. As a result, Catholics constructed purgatory churches, as  a form of reaffirmation of the idea. The church is dedicated to the passage of life to death, and is a place where people could pray for those who were in limbo. Symbols of death decorate the church, in order to remind those who sin of the suffering of purgatory. Near the entrance of the church, and visible through the doorway, are mummies dating to the 18th and 19th century, who were founding members of the church, local administrators and the mummy of a child. The mummies are dressed in robes and displayed in cabinets.

As well as churches, Monopoli is also home to a beautiful harbour, filled with fishing boats, and a seafront promenade, where tourists were spending their Sunday lounging on towels and soaking in the sun. Along the alleyways beside the old harbour were cute boutiques and souvenir shops, filled with seaside themed trinkets  made from shells or capturing the beauty of the area.

Of course, being in a seaside town it was only right to give some of their seafood a try, and we stopped for lunch at Piazza Palmieri, a seafood restaurant. I had my favourite dish - seafood linguine - which had a delicious mix of local seafood.

I would recommend Monopoli to anyone looking for a base to explore the Puglia region, as the town has a perfect mix of things to explore while still having a slow and relaxing atmosphere. Let me know if you've been, or are planning to visit!


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  1. Italy is just glorious. Puglia looks beautiful. I can go to Italy 20 times over and love it just as much.

  2. Such an awesome post! Pics are amazing l!

  3. Great post! I had never even heard of this place before and I’ve been all over Italy! Also, I do love an ornately crafted stone church.

  4. Such a great post! Beautiful pictures!

  5. Every time I see photos of Italy I really want to visit - it looks like such a beautiful country <3

    G is for Gingers xx