One morning my husband and I woke up and decided that now that our baby was 7 months old, it was the best time to take a trip with our baby. We chose Puglia (Italy) with a baby because it is not as popular a destination during spring as it is during summer. In fact, we were welcomed by empty cities, best accommodation and optimal weather!
We would also be taking our baby on her first flight! Here’s all our tips for visiting Puglia with a baby:
Puglia with a baby
Since Puglia has really beautiful, long beaches and an amazing sea (they even call an area Maldive of Salento!), it’s an extremely popular destination in the summer. If you are traveling with your baby, our advice is to visit Puglia during autumn or spring: you’ll have the right weather to visit the cities without melting under the sun, but still be able to enjoy the beaches (and maybe even have a swim in crystal clear waters).
Visiting Puglia with a Baby
Puglia offers everything you could need to buy for babies. Diapers and formula can be easily found in every market or pharmacy. People in bars and restaurants are so friendly, they will gladly warm up your baby’s formula, fill up their cups, bring them suitable food and even pick them up to entertain them while you are eating (of course after getting your permission!).
Baby facilities are usually available in restaurants and accommodations, but it is better to check with them first, in order to avoid any surprises!
Renting a car in Puglia
Public transportation is not as well organized as you would need when traveling with a baby and taxis are really expensive in Italy, so we preferred to rent a car with a baby seat. Having a car is also useful if you have to change the baby while on the road, in particular, we had our changing station set up in the trunk every time Atena needed it!
Apart from changing room, we used the car as a quiet place to give Atena her formula, clean surfaces to prepare her snacks on the go, and it was a quiet spot to get her to nap while driving.
While the spring temperatures in Puglia aren’t that high, the sun is still shining bright in Puglia. If you plan to use car naps or stroller naps to get your baby to sleep on vacation, it’s worthwhile to bring your blackout curtains for travel and a stroller sunshade to give your baby a darker space out of the sun to nap.
We packed our travel stroller and our baby carrier for Puglia. We recommend a lightweight travel stroller for the airplane, which fits in the overhead bin. The streets in Puglia aren’t bad so you’ll have no issues using it. You’ll also want a stroller that packs small to fit in your car rental.
For flying with a stroller our first time, we used an older stroller because we had planned to check it with our luggage and didn’t want to worry in case it got damaged. We had our baby carrier as a backup as well.
Baby’s first flight
We departed from Malpensa, a Milano airport, which we discovered to be really equipped for children. Our airline company allowed two free two pieces of baby equipment (for example a stroller and a car seat) and one free baby backpack. Of course, we were easily able to bring baby formula (with no limits), baby travel food and snacks PLUS hot and cold water(no limits either) through security in our diaper bag backpack for the flight for our baby.
Being a backpacking couple before we had our baby, we are used to traveling light. For this flight, we just booked two carry-on bags for all three of us. This allowed us to save some money, that we used to choose the seats on the plane.
We wanted to make sure that we had the aisle seat with our baby, since we needed to be able to walk around the plane to entertain or rock Atena to sleep.
Our first experience flying with a baby was easier than we expected. Atena slept and played with me and her daddy, walking on the plane back and forth. We even found out that our airline company can print the first-time-flying baby a certificate for the so called “baptism of the air”!
Landing in Puglia
We landed in Bari airport, where a nursery is available directly near where you pick up oversize baggage. We had checked our stroller with our luggage and picked it up at the oversized baggage area.
We had previously booked a car online, which we strongly recommend because of the long queues that happen at the airport car rental offices. Our car and baby car seat good condition. We always remember to check if the seat is clean, of good quality and correctly fastened to the car.
Please keep in mind that in Italy, it is mandatory to have a child restraint device like a car seat. Bring your car seat from home (if it is not too big!), or you’ll be charged for its rental too.
As gps, we used Google Maps, but if your roaming plan does not provide unlimited internet traffic, here’s a tip! When still in your home country, you should download the free app Maps.me, search for Italy and download the chosen maps. This app is the best abroad because it uses location and not gigabytes, but still working great as navigation device.
Where to Stay in Puglia with a Baby
We stayed at Trullo Donna Isabella and Masseria Chinunno during our time in Puglia.
Trullo Donna Isabella has good baby facilities, a well equipped kitchen, and enough space outside for kids to play. You’ll also love the great homemade Italian breakfast and it’s proximity to the city of Locorotondo.
At Masseria Chinunno we were treated to really good food, huge green fields, a farm with animals, playgrounds and even an adventure park (opened on weekends). Rooms have been recently renovated and were really clean..
Five Days in Puglia with a Baby
Day 1 – Bari and Polignano a Mare
We left the car in a parking near our hotel and explored Bari by foot. We booked a tour with a guide from VelaService which was simply amazing!
Atena was in our Tula carrier almost all the time and she even slept in my husband’s arms during the walk around.
The guide Paola was really helpful and she paid exceptional attention to our needs as parents. For example, at one point, the tour was heading to a “secret” spot for a surprise for the attendees. The guide informed us that the surprise would have included loud music, we were really thankful for this advice!
We stopped at a restaurant but they did not have the changing table, so I went back to VelaService office and they even let me use their private (and clean) bathroom. They do not have a changing table either, but A travel change mat is a must when traveling with a baby!
The first thing we learned is that flexibility is one of the most important skills to bring in on a road trip with a baby!
In the afternoon, we had a walk in Polignano a Mare, a little city which rises to peak on the sea. Keep in mind that you may have some difficulties with the stroller, especially if it is a small travel one like ours, so we recommend using a baby carrier for travel here.
Day 2 – Monopoli, Ostuni and Locorotondo
Sticking with the tour we had organized, we had to visit Monopoli and Ostuni. We went there, but the wind was too strong. The second thing we learned about traveling with a baby is that you need to listen to their needs first.
So, we had a lazy lunch talking to other tourists and tasting typical food, then we had some play time in our Trullo, a traditional house of Puglia.
Day 3 – Alberobello and Torre Canne
After a delicious Italian breakfast with cappuccino, brioches and homemade cakes, we went to Alberobello, the most famous Trullo city.
You can use your travel stroller here, but be prepared for a few difficult sections. The sun is really hot there, so bring sun hats for you and a baby sun hat, sunscreen and water.
A stroller sunshade, like the CoziGo stroller cover, is also good to keep sun off your baby if the canopy of your stroller isn’t quite large enough.
In the afternoon, we reached Torre Canne, a famous beach, where we ate fried fish and had a beer under a big beach umbrella.
We spent the afternoon chilling on the beach, Atena touched the water with her feet and we had a brief walk. It wasn’t the first time Atena saw the beach, but it was the first time she noticed the sand and stones. She played a lot with the sand and as is typical when taking a baby to the beach, she tried to put everything in her mouth.
A good pop-up beach tent is a great way to let your baby crawl around and get some time out of the sun. We weren’t there long enough to need on… After playing on the beach for an hour, Atena was so tired.
We decided to order two pizzas and stay in our Trullo for dinner. We put on our cozy pajamas, turned on the heat, pressed play and enjoyed a movie all together.
Day 4: Matera
On day four we visited Matera, which is actually in another region than Puglia, but so near to our path!
In the morning we walked around the new city center with Atena in her travel stroller. We visited Casa Noha, a FAI site, where an interactive video was played. We really enjoyed both the video about old Matera and the pause from the hot weather outside.
Atena took her morning nap there: it was so nice and dark we kind of envied her! At Casa Noha, they also have a changing table, which is really useful when you are on the road and away from your car seats!
We stopped for a quick lunch at Pasteggiando, which we recommend (even if they don’t have an high chair, it is worth the struggle). If you want a high chair wherever you go, pack one of these high chairs for travel.
We had booked a tour with a guide through GetYourGuide, an app which is extremely useful to help you find cheap guided tours. Using the stroller in Matera’s Sassi is not recommended, so we left it in the tour office and put Atena in our carrier and she was so quiet!
The visit to Sassi lasted about 2 hours, then we headed to our next accommodation: Masseria Chinunno. Other than really good food, in this Masseria you can find huge green fields, a farm with animals, playgrounds and even an adventure park (opened on weekends). Rooms have been recently renovated and were really clean.
If you want a crib for babies there is an extra charge of 20 euros, or you can bring your own baby travel crib.
Shower was spacious enough to wash Atena without difficulties, which was a plus for sure! During our previous trips, the shower moment was always so dramatic! At home, Atena is used to take long and relaxing bath in her Stokke little bathtub. In hotels, it can be a struggle so one of these portable bathtubs for travel would be a lifesaver!
Dinner in the Masseria Chinunno was delicious (and, by the way, so cheap!) and the sound of nature rocked all three of us to sleep.
Day 5 – Masseria Chinunno
Our last day in Puglia! After breakfast, we had a stroll in the Masseria park and farm. Atena saw cows and little pigs for the first time. She was excited and a little bit scared at the same time!
Then, we jumped on the car and set our gps with destination: Bari airport. On the way there, we stopped by the sea to have a fish lunch.
At the restaurant, Atena burst into tears and we were quick to comfort her with little success. She would not eat pasta (so strange for an Italian baby!), she did not want to drink her milk, she did not want to sleep. In that moment we realized that we had been too demanding of her the previous day. Hence, we finished our lunch in a hurry and found the perfect spot to let her nap in the shade of a tree, rocked by the sound of the sea weaves.
It was another good lesson in traveling with a baby, that sometimes we need to slow down!
Our initial plan was to keep her awake during the trip to the airport, so that she would sleep on the plane, but our experience with our baby taught us that it is better to deal with a fully rested and awake baby rather than an overtired and sleepless one! She slept for about an hour, then it was time to leave Puglia and fly back to our hometown near Milan.
Planning our Next Trip with a Baby
The first experience flying with our baby was great, all the worries we had before boarding immediately disappeared after the take off. After this trip, we immediately organized the next one!
Next steps will be to get a baby passport so we can travel with Atena outside the Schengen area soon! We are creating great memories with our first child and cannot stop thinking about when she’ll grow a bit and understand where she is going. We imagine her looking outside the little plane window, playing with her tiny curls and be as thrilled as us when the captain says ‘cabin crew, prepare for landing’!
This guest post was written by Letizia.
Mamma Letizia, Papà Lorenzo and little Atena (born in Sept 2021): we are the a_gitati on Instagram! In Italian, it is a word pun combining together the words agitated, trip and Ati (which stands for Atena). Our aim is to travel the world showing that if we can travel with a not-so-much quiet baby, other parents can too! We talk about our journeys with tragicomicity and we share our survival tricks, if we succeed in surviving first!
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