Puglia. Photo by Canva

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Puglia (or Apulia in Italian), the heel of the Italian boot, has long been a firm favourite with travellers looking to lose themselves down the cobbled conical-roofed Trulli-lined streets of its medieval towns, and sample the bountiful food and wine on offer. 

With flight times of only 2.5 hours from London, and a plethora of fully stocked ‘flexi-board’ villas on offer, its popularity looks only sure to increase.  Now’s the time to ditch Spain and Greece for your next family holiday and head to the rugged beauty of the southern Italian coast.

Reasons to Visit Puglia, Italy

Gorgeous Puglia beach. Photo by Canva
Gorgeous Puglia beach. Photo by Canva

What is it about the simple pleasures of sun, sea, sand and good food that makes Italy so alluring?  Without stating the obvious, we aren’t exactly blessed in the UK with sun (on any more than a handful of days per year), sea (that would be warm enough for anyone but the hardiest of bathers) or sand (fancy squeezing onto a cramped pitch the size of a postage stamp, having sat in hours-long traffic jams to get there…?  Didn’t think so).

So far so obvious, Italy is ticking all the right boxes; but then Greece and Spain are similarly blessed with the 3 S’s.

Read More: Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Puglia, Italy

Cuisine in Puglia is Suitable for All Ages

Fresh Italian pasta. Photo by Canva
Fresh Italian pasta. Photo by Canva

Here Italy has an obvious advantage over its Greco-Spanish rivals. Each Italian region has its own culinary stars, Puglia’s being mozzarella, orecchiette pasta, and focaccia (amongst other things).

But regardless of where you are in Italy, you are bound to find two kid-friendly staples on the menu of pretty much every restaurant – the 2 P’s – pasta and pizza. This allows parents to venture confidently into almost any restaurant without the sub-conscious pre-dining concern that their ‘discerning’ (read, picky) nippers may be unenthused with the menu.

However, dining out in Italy isn’t necessarily suited for particularly young ones, as you may struggle to find many restaurants open before 19:30.

What Makes Puglia a Good Family-Friendly Destination?

So what is it that makes Puglia stand out as the Italian family-friendly destination?  It’s the range of family-oriented ‘flexi-board’ villas on offer and the plethora of sights in close proximity. 

Flexibility is the name of the game when you have small kids in tow, as is an abundance of distractions to keep them occupied.  Our party counted five adults and three kids under four years old. 

Where to Stay in Puglia

Stunning villa entrance in Puglia. Photo by Canva
Stunning villa entrance in Puglia. Photo by Canva

We stayed in the Trullo Negli Alberi, a trulli-clad villa halfway between the beautiful medieval towns of Alberobello and Locorotondo. 

The villa benefitted from a large outdoor swimming pool and outdoor play area, including a swing set and sunken trampoline, all set in the safety and tranquillity of the walled grounds.

There were plenty of sunny and shaded areas so that we never felt like we were on top of each other. The indoor games room was particularly welcome when we had two days of unseasonably bad weather – the games and toys, cinema room, table football and table tennis were more than enough to keep small and big kids alike entertained.

The standout feature of the villa was in the catering options.  Whilst the villa was self-catering, and we certainly made the most of the fully stocked kitchen and outdoor BBQ, there were ‘flexi-board’ options on offer.

Luxury Villa Dining

Aubergine parmigiana in Puglia. Photo by Canva
Aubergine parmigiana in Puglia. Photo by Canva

For a supplement, the next-door neighbour, Lucretia, will come and bring you a traditional three-course meal.

The antipasto, followed by aubergine parmigiana with salad and finished with a light lemon cake really hit the spot for the first evening after a long journey. This really was home-cooked Italian comfort food at its simplest and finest.

When enjoyed sitting on the veranda under the graceful billowing shade sail, sipping a crisp local Negroamaro, the weight of tension and fatigue from travelling was instantly lifted.

The real star of the culinary show for the trip was saved for the final evening.  The villa boasted an outdoor pizza oven, and frankly, it would have been rude not to take it for a spin. 

Again, Lucretia was on hand with pre-prepared dough and toppings aplenty to supervise our DIY pizza-making evening. The kids loved getting stuck in with making the pizzas – flour and ingredients inevitably ended up everywhere – and they tasted great too.  Plus, what’s better than leftover pizza the next morning…? Leftover homemade pizza.

Read More: Blissful Mountain Escape at ADLER Spa Resort DOLOMITI in the Italian Alps

What to Do in Puglia

Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage “Trulli Town”. Photo by Canva
Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage “Trulli Town”. Photo by Canva

Venturing out and about from the villa, we were spoiled for choice of day trips. 

No visit to Puglia is complete without a visit to Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage “Trulli Town”.  The low hillsides of the old town are covered with the traditional conical roofed Apulian homes, set like a veritable forest of slate-clad spruce trees against the azure blue of the sky.

We found the early evening the best time to visit, when the swarms of tourists had buzzed off for the day and the narrow, cobbled streets are awash with the heady scents of jasmine.

The Town of Monopoli

Panoramic View of Monopoli in Puglia, Southern Italy. Photo by Canva
Panoramic View of Monopoli in Puglia, Southern Italy. Photo by Canva

Venturing slightly further afield, we particularly enjoyed Monopoli, a town around a 30-minute drive from the villa.  The old town boasted a veritable warren of winding narrow streets serving up visual delights around every corner, with plenty of restaurants on offer serving up seafood delights overlooking the Adriatic. 

It is worth checking with the locals to ensure that you visit the towns on market day. This is partly because you are guaranteed the freshest ingredients for your own self-catering endeavours; but primarily because there are few better ways to feel the pulse of a place than to experience the bustle of market day, with locals going about their daily business.

Markets, Beaches, and Relaxation

Endless beach options in Puglia. Photo by Canva
Endless beach options in Puglia. Photo by Canva

We found that the markets in Locorotondo and Alberobello (both around 6-7km from our villa, albeit in opposite directions) were particularly vibrant, engaging and well-stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables.

For a classic bucket and spade experience, the kids particularly enjoyed the beach at Lido Bizzarro, which was one of our closest seaside options (around 45-minute drive from the villa).

Sandy beaches are in short supply on the Apulian Adriatic coast, but Lido Bizzarro offered a semi-empty (as we were out of season) expanse of sand, with sun loungers & umbrellas to rent, changing facilities and an excellent beachfront snack bar.

Despite the kids’ best endeavours, there was much relaxation to be found in the simple pleasure of sipping an Aperol spritz and gazing out on the vista of the gently lapping waters of the Adriatic.

As we waited in the airport to head home, munching on a tin-foil-wrapped homemade calzone from the night before – which surprisingly made it through the security scanners without so much as a raised eyebrow –  we found ourselves already planning our Apulian return.

If You Go:

  • Tom and his family stayed for 7 nights at Trullo Negli Alberi .
  • Flights to Brindisi from London Gatwick with EasyJet start from $30. 

Read More:

Author Bio: Tom is a freelance travel journalist based on Jersey in the Channel Islands. His passion is getting off the beaten track to explore places that are misunderstood or not on the average traveller’s radar. He loves immersing himself in the local culture so that he can provide readers with an informed narrative about the local quirks of everyday life.

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  1. Living in Puglia, I can confirm that of the many culinary spcialities of Puglia the 2 main ones are orrechiette pasta and burrata cheese (not mozzarella) the article states Puglia is famous for mozzarella, that will just upset the locals, they are so proud of their burrata cheese.