Puglia For Kids
We recently took a trip to Puglia with our boys for a long weekend with our two kids. For those who don’t know where that is, Puglia is right down on the heal of the boot of Italy. Other than its breathtaking coastline full of beautiful beaches, there is so much to do with children. There is the Fasano Safari Zoo, Fasanolandia the amusement park, The Castellana Caves, and my personal favourite, Alberobello. For many families, Puglia isn’t on the “to go list” when visiting Italy as it is tucked away down south, but if you do get a chance it is definitely worth a visit.
The Trulli in Alberobello
One of the most beautiful little towns I have ever seen and one of the 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, The Trulli of Alberobello in Puglia are limestone houses with coned roofs that date back to the 14th Century.
Before leaving I scanned the Airbnb website and stumbled upon Trulimania in Alberobello where you can stay in the Trulli Apartments in the middle of the town. This was one of the main things I was looking forward to and had been telling my boys about for a while. J was so excited, he was already pointing them out in the car as we were getting close to arriving and shouting “Look mummy a Trullo”. He had only seen photos before.
Our Trullo was really cute, like a little studio, all self contained with a ladder leading to a terrace where we ate our breakfast every morning and then explored the rooftops of the neighbouring trulli.
We enjoyed an afternoon walking up and down in the historical center where a random shop owner invited us up on her terrace to see the sunset. The view from the top looking over all the coned rooftops in the town was simply amazing.
Fasano Zoo Safari
It may not be Africa but it is the next best thing for children. One of the largest in Europe, the Fasano Zoo Safari in central Puglia is a combination of drive around safari, walk around zoo, and amusement park.
We drove through the gates in our own car to enter the Safari Park, (if you don’t have one there is a bus you can take through). You can keep your windows down and within minutes you will have animals walking up and sticking their head through. My boys were super excited to be able to feed the zebras and giraffes through the window with the peanuts on the way in. Arriving at the larger animals such as the lions and tigers they tell you to put your window up, however we were still quite close, maybe too close if you scare easily!
After the safari, we took the little train to another part of the zoo where we could walk around and see the other large animals, arriving just in time to see one of the zoo keepers feed the hippos and polar bears. A little boat ride around the lake took us to see the monkeys, though my boys were more excited aboutsimply being on a boat!
We didn’t have time but there is also a dolphin arena an aquarium and a tropical room housing reptiles and fish of all species which for older children is great.
Fasanolandia is an amusement park with rides and attractions for all ages. Entrance is included in your ticket for the zoo though you pay for the rides they are quite reasonably priced.
Little K was sleeping by this stage so I got to spend some one on one time with J who was insistent on going on the roller coaster. Though I was excited that my son wanted to go on a ride that his mum wanted to go on, I did try to talk him out of it because he only just made the height requirement of 1 metre. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for 4 year olds but of course his stubbornness won and I ended up giving in. I thought he was going to cry, and although he kept his brave face on, he probably won’t be asking to go on another one for a while! For the rest of the afternoon he chose to go on the little pirate boats, helicopter rides and dodgem cars, all great rides better suited to his age.
The Castellana Caves (Le Grotte di Castellana)
This was the hubby’s pick for the trip as he had been talking about these caves I think since we first met. Arriving for the first tour at 3pm the lines were so long that we missed the English tour and took the Italian one instead, I guess that’s one of the perks of being having bilingual kids, we definitely were not waiting an hour for the next English tour!
With K in the baby carrier and J on foot I was quite surprised that he made it the whole 3km round tri! We walked 60 metres deep through canopies of stalactites which are those icicle shaped formations that hang for the ceiling. They are the largest caves ever explored in Italy and feature a unique “white cave” which by some is considered the best in the world.
Polignano al Mare
To finish our Puglia trip off we spent our last morning in Polignano, a scenic little seaside town close by. We relaxed down on the little stone beach surrounded by limestone cliffs not wanting to leave, we could have definitely spent more time there.
Puglia is a fantastic little pocket in the south of Italy, and if you do manage to make it down there, you won’t be dissapointed. It makes a great little trip with the kids!
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert