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Family travel: Puglia

Puglia — the heel in Italy’s boot — is a wild and unspoilt region of hilltop towns and spectacular sea grottoes

Family travel: Puglia
Monopoli, Puglia, Italy. Image: AWL Images

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Why go?
Puglia has it all — a beautiful coastline, rolling hills resplendent with olive groves, pretty hilltop towns and villages, plus excellent food and wine. Your kids will never be short of things to do, however old they are.

What is there to do?
In summer, Puglia is alive with family-friendly festivals, concerts and events. Add to that cycling through vineyards and unspoiled villages, lazing on beaches or visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Alberobello and marvelling at the conical-roofed 14th-century trullo houses.

Where to stay?
Set slightly inland, our hotel, Borgo Egnazia, had a traditional village look and feel. Our large three-bedroom villa had lots of marble, cream and white furnishings and pale cream stone walls, plus its own kitchen, swimming pool and gardens. The buffet breakfast at the main hotel included Italian cakes, cereal, organic yoghurts, bacon, eggs, fruit, cheese and meats — plenty of choice, even for the pickiest little ones. And the fact it features three pools — two outdoor, one indoor — a kids’ club, choice of restaurants and friendly staff, means a trip here can be a real break. For weary grown-ups, the Vair Spa is a must, with treatments ranging from massages and facials to more holistic options. Plus all the products are derived from the region’s fields and hillsides.

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Highs: The town of Polignano a Mare is a real gem, spectacularly positioned on a limestone cliff above the Adriatic. We wandered cobbled streets, ate delicious pasta and took in the Old Town, with its whitewashed streets and churches.
“I loved the ice cream we ate at the seaside — there were so many flavours I didn’t know what to choose!” Isaac (5).
“I found the trullo houses fascinating. It was also lovely to see the children running around so freely, with the locals smiling rather than frowning at them, even when our 18-month old was having a tantrum.” Rob (dad).
Lows: Driving our small hire car in the winding hillsides was tricky, especially with irate Italian drivers on our tail and two small children in the back.
Best for: Kids of all ages — the Italians love children and make families very welcome.
How to do it: Classic Collection Holidays offers five nights at Borgo Egnazia from £1,399 per person, based on two adults sharing a La Corte Bella room on a B&B basis. The package includes return flights from Gatwick (with other UK departure airports available) to Bari and private transfers.

Published in the Summer 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family