Puglia base and itinerary sought , May, with 2 kids (ages 8 & 12)

We have a 2 week trip to Italy planned. First week Rome, 2nd week divided up between Amalfi coast (staying in Sorrento for 4 nights) and then we will rent a car and head to Puglia for 4 nights. I am looking for a good base town in Puglia and some ideas for daytrips. Martina Franca as a base? We would like to explore natural wonders, perhaps some caves. Any beach recommmendations? any info on Torre Guaceto Riserva Naturale. Our daughters are ages 8 and 12.
Thank you so much! Anne

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2208 posts

We are headed to Puglia in May and I have been struggling with a good base for 4 nights. My Puglian colleague suggested Polignano a Mare as a cute seaside town just SE of Bari. It's 1.5 hours by car to Lecce, and the central areas of Alberobello, Martina Franca, Ostuni, etc., are easily accessible by car. I cannot offer first hand experience yet, but only the advice of my friend. Trani is also recommended, but a bit far north to offer good access to the southern reaches.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
916 posts

You might check out masserias (i.e. agriturismos). We stayed at one (Masseria Montenapoleone) near Fasano which had a great central location. And it also had a great pool, which the kids would love. Plus some goats and acres of fruit and olive trees. It has a wonderful guest kitchen, fully stocked with olive oils and seasonings, which you can use to cook your own dinner. Many restaurants in Puglia don't open until 8 pm for dinner, which may be a little late for your children, so this could be a good option. We were about 30 minutes from Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Alberobello, Ostuni ... all good day trips. Also, just about 5 minutes away was Torre Canne, a little beach town which the kids would enjoy. We did not visit Torre Guaceto Riserva Naturale, but I'm sure it's also just a short drive. There are lots of masserias in this area to choose from. We spent five days here last October, and it was one of the highlights of our month in Italy.

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2664 posts

We stayed in Lecce for 4 nights as a base for exploring the region. From there we drove south around the coast stopping in Otranto one day and Gallipoli another. We liked Lecce alot- we were happy with our stay at President Hotel. Martina Franca would be fine as a base but not my first choice - if you decide to stay there, you could day trip to Locorontondo and Alberobello. Just depends on what cities you want to visit. We did not visit Torre Guaceto Riserva Naturale.

Posted by rachele
napa
83 posts

Last April, I spent three nights in Martina Franca and although beautiful (especially at night) there is not much going on there. The TI was even closed the entire time we were there. Not much to offer children in particular. I would think the beach towns would be a lot more fun for kids. Have you looked at Ostuni? Beach 6km away and horse back riding nearby.

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
869 posts

Anne, we also used Lecce as one of our bases to explore much of Puglia. It is a great town, sort of like a mini-Sienna. Don't try to drive into it without your GPS from home,and a good map of the ring roads, etc. We acessed the awesome Grotto di Castalana from a base near Giovanazzo/Trani. Don't miss it! the kids will talk about it for months! Ostuni is a neat seaside town with sand dunes and beaches not too far from Lecce. A Masseria would be a great idea, too. Pick up a Lonely Planet guidebook and do some reading about the area, and the sights. read the great review that the NY Times did on Puglia:
http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/05/06/travel/06Puglia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Posted by Gary
Frisco, TX, United States
28 posts

We booked in October Trulli Stella. It's near Ostuni. Self catering with private pool. US$ about $160 per night.