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  • The Kensington Diary

One week in Puglia (Apulia) with Kids: A complete itinerary

Puglia (or Apulia) is a beautiful region in Italy that is popular with Italian families but is still relatively untainted by international tourism efforts, so it feels like a little hidden gem. Located in the Southern heel of Italy and bordered by the Adriatic, Ionian seas and Mediterranean seas, the region has a lengthy coastline that hosts stunning beaches with turquoise waters. Due to it's location, the weather here is relatively warm all year round compared to the rest of Italy which indulges the perfect temperatures for it's widely famed farming efforts. In the area you will find up to 60 million olive trees for olive oil production, ample cheese (burrata originates from here), wine, tomatoes, artichokes, aubergines, lamb and wheat.


You might know Puglia and it's neighbouring region Basilicata from popular movie scenes. 'No time to die' was filmed in Matera and 'Pinnochio' in Polignano a Mare. It is a large region with many beautiful little towns to visit and a perfect retreat for families and couples alike.


Getting to Puglia

There are two international airports in Puglia: Bari and Brindisi. Your choice for arrival will be highly dependent on your itinerary although they are just two hours apart. I definitely advise renting a car in Puglia as there are so many towns you will want to visit and driving is the easiest way to make the region accessible.



7 Day Itinerary

Our arrival was in Bari and we visited the towns of Savelletri, Monopoli, Poligano a Mare, Alberobello and Mattera. We stayed at two hotels, the first located in Savelletri di Fasano where we spent more time at the resort to unwind and relax, and the second which we used a base for exploration of the remaining towns on our itinerary.

Our Base

The famous Borgo Egnazia, a man-made fortified village, was our based for the first part of the stay where we indulged in the resort and explored the delightful area of Savelletri di Fasano.

During the second half of the stay, we moved to a beautiful Masseria in Monopoli and used this as a base for exploration of different towns.


Savelletri di Fasano

Savelletri is a tiny idyllic village that is part of the town of Fasano and sits on the Adriatic coastline. It is an ideal place for a relaxed family or couples vacation. With a slow pace, there are plenty of beach and sea activities to indulge in, including diving and snorkelling, and lots of delicious seafood.

Most of the Puglian resorts or farms called Masserias that are now converted into beautiful resorts, are dotted along this area. So, if you are seeking a more relaxed holiday without much sightseeing, this is the place to be. In Summer the area is filled with Italian and European tourists striving to get as close to the lidos as they can, and bookings at the masserias go very quickly, talking to the popularity of this area.


As the region is filled with olive groves, there is the opportunity to observe how olive oil is produced and some hotels also run pasta making courses. You can also visit Fasano Zoo and Safari Park or see the Roman ruins at Scavi D’Egnazia.


Monopoli


Sitting on Puglia's Adriatic coast around 30km south of Bari, Monopoli is a lovely town for a day trip. Monopoli's history has been influenced by its east-facing position and its fortified sea-front walls and castle lay in tribute to its tales. There is much to see in this beautiful little town including the Piazza XX Settembre (the location of a colourful street market), the cathedral and then head down towards the sea front towards the sea-front promenade, complete the immaculate Church of Santa Maria della Zaffira, a cannon-mounted bastion and the impressively robust Charles V Castle, built in 1552. The view from the top of the castle is absolutely wonderful.



Once you pass through the castle archway, you will arrive in the port where you will find fishermen unloading the day's catch. It hosts a beautiful little beach with calm turquoise waters for a quick dip if you fancy.


Polignano a Mare


Perched atop a 20 metre-high limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, you will find the unique town of Polignano a Mare. It's easy to allow yourself to get lost here with it's charming winding streets, beautiful old churches and a gorgeous blue flag stony beach with crystal clear waters flanked by two white cliffs - postcard perfection! We spent a day here (and even returned) as it offers all the right ingredients for a perfect day out.



The origins of this enchanting place date back to the 4th century BC. Polignano is famous for cliff diving and in Summer the little beach is packed to the brim There are panoramic terraces dotted around the town which offer breathtaking views of the Adriatic sea. Stop


Alberobello

Located in the Valle D'Itria, you will find a fairy-tale like town with rows of trulli, the famed conical shaped houses of Puglia, along a steep hills that that then merge with rolling countrysides producing olive oil, white wine and capacollo ham.


We spent a half a day walking this UNESCO World Heritage town and taking in the history. These oldest surviving limescale trulli date back to the 16th century.


There are two areas to primarily see. The first is Monti which is is the larger and more picturesque areas. However, it is very popular with tourists so you will find many organised tours taking place here. Across the main road, on the alternate hill, is Aja Piccola. The area is smaller but it's less busy and commercialised.

It was intriguing to understand how families lives in these little homes so speak to the locals, many of whom own the shops housed in these trulli.

Matera


Technically not part of Apulia, Matera, a city in Basilicata, was considered “the shame of Italy” in the 1950s because of the extreme poverty and widespread disease in its ancient districts. The city, assumed to be the third-oldest in the world, had its residents relocated and tt lay empty for the first time in 10,000 years.

Yet today it one of the two 2019 European capitals of culture. Investment began trickling in from the late 1980s, and many of the families descendants came back to open hotels and restaurants. Matera got a boost when it became a world heritage site in 1993, and another when it became the star location in The Passion of the Christ then Daniel's Craig's Bond movie No Time To Die.


The Sassi or stone districts are Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. These are a must see as theyare built on natural caves that have been excavated and extended. Pale limestone churches, monasteries, palaces and houses rises above the caves, all balanced on the edge of a ravine. By day, it is breathtaking; but lit up at dusk, you will find a romantic Matera that warms your heart.


Spend your time wondering around both Sassis and taking in the architecture, views and beauty of this unique place. Must sees are the Chiesa San Pietro, Chiesa San Madonna, and the Cathedral. It's easy to get lost here for a full day and an overnight stay might also be a conceivable option to truly immerse yourself in this amazing city.


I hope you have an amazing time if you visit Puglia. Its such a special part of the world and a perfect destination to have a balance of exploration and relaxation with a family.


Much Love

Shanti

The Kensington Diary

XXX




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