The Gargano: much more than just bathing tourism
Gargano is the northern most part of Puglia and is best known for its holiday destinations, not its National Park. Towns such as Vieste, Peschici and Mattinata, but also the same Tremiti Islands, are well-known spots of the Umbra Forest, which is the green lung of the Gargano.
This part of Puglia has the richest varieties of habitats in Italian territory due to the morphologically diverse terrain and its millenary history. In very few areas of the world, in such a “small” territory, it is possible to find such a variety and richness of flora and fauna, even in some cases they have gone to identify endemic species, such as the unbelievable variety of rare spring orchids in the areas of Mattinata and Monte Sacro.
Even in the Gargano, as it does in the other areas of Puglia, moving a few steps from the typically seaside resorts, visitors are projected into real journeys over time, pleasantly submerged in a story made of rich traditions and surprising and unexpected landscaped views.
This are the most beautiful itineraries of excursions and hiking tours we can arrange for you in Gargano National Park
THE HERMITAGE VALLEY OF PULSANO
An itinerary of high value, historical, and cultural value. Panoramic on the valley of Pulsano, on the sea of the suggestive plain of Manfredonia, boasts the presence of the interesting abbey of S. Maria di Pulsano, established in the sixth century by St. Gregory the Great and which, after various historical events, still hosts a community of monks cenobiti.
Pulsano is without doubt the origin of monasticism in Garganica. From the 6th century. A.D. in fact the area was frequented by monks and saints who decided to retreat to this place where nature reigns uncontaminated in contemplation and meditation; seeking an ascetic and enlightened life, made up of prayer, fasting, and work. Enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape, surrounded by silence.
The landscape is impressive for its uniqueness: Campanile valley, a valley limited by the high and steep sides of the surrounding hills where crossed by an impenetrable path leads to great tribulations to ancient hermitages. In some cases they are made up of a simple cave, along the steep wall of the valley’s side, while in others they are small solitary buildings on rough terrain. Some are located in really inaccessible corners. It counts at least one 20in. Among the most beautiful and well-known are the hermitage of the mill, studying it, the hermitage of the swallow, the hermitage of the prisons, the hermitage of St. Nicola of Mira.
The path is very disjointed especially in the crossing of a stretch of the valley bottom with numerous outlying boulders and exposed points. The climb to the Abbey has traces exposed and is quite steep. When you arrive at the level of Monte S. Angelo, however, the panorama on the Gulf of Manfredonia and the inland forests give you a good deal of sweat and fatigue during the excursion.
THE SOUTHERN NECROPOLES OF MONTE SARACENO (MATTINATA)
The trekking of Monte Saraceno in Mattinata is a spectacular and very panoramic path with incredible views over the cliffs that Manfredonia arrives to the coast of Mattinata. The path lays out an immense olive grove of ancient olive trees, then climbs through an old tratturo (called the ancient Puglia walkways) through the “Dauna Gate” on the ridge of Monte Saraceno. The Gate enters directly into a strange, surreal world. The route winds on the line between sky and sea in the middle of the necropolis of the Dauna population, dating back to IX – IV century. B.C. Here there are about 500 graves excavated in the rock, whose stuffed objects and the famous dawn stele are now kept in the archaeological museum of Manfredonia.
The Mount is also the final part of the San Michele Arcangelo Line, a compulsory passage of all the pilgrims who went through the Traiana Street (now via Francigena del Sud) to the desperate Jerusalem. Once you reach the top of the mountain you will “fall” towards the blue until Punta Grugno peak on the Adriatic. A walk through the history, culture and intensity of the landscape from the Gargano National Park.
THE UMBRA FOREST: THE ANCIENT NEMUS GARGANICUM
It is the oldest heart of the Gargano National Park, a millennial forest stretching for eleven thousand hectares, with tall beech trees, over 2500 botanical species and a remarkable variety of spontaneous orchids.
Puglia is a realm of biodiversity swoop corner seems a different place. These divergences accentuate whenever from the Gulf coasts you go to the center of the promontory where steep bends bring visitors in the middle of a dream forest such as fairy tales, characterized by infinite, shady beech trees, where to find and discover unique paths. Walking in the Umbra Forest means knowing the most important naturalistic phenomena: plant macrosomatism and depressed beech trees. It also means meeting the famous podolica cow and again, to get to a typical farmhouse to assist in the processing of the podolica caciocavallo, Slow Food presidium.
CALVO MOUNT: THE HIGHEST MOUNT OF GARGANO NATIONAL PARK
With this trekking you climb to the highest peak of the Gargano National Park: Mount Calvo, with its 1065 meters. We are in the territory of the municipality of San Giovanni Rotondo. In the first part of the path, it has dipped in the low forests bordering the mountain. Once out of the woods the landscape changes completely. They open to the sight of brulli landscapes that seem almost exterminated. Files and rows of stones to mark the path. The summit of the mountain, in fact, (by its very name) is completely devoid of vegetation. From its peak in favorable light conditions, it enjoys beautiful views overlooking the valleys below, on the Gulf of Manfredonia, on Lake Varano, on the Apennines massif of Maiella, on the Tremiti Islands and on Mount Vulture. Calvo Mountain with the adjacent flat of Montenero is characterized by the high concentration of karstic valleys. For many centuries, it was believed that this mountain guarded the amount of gold hidden in its subtle and deep vorages, the characteristics of the karsticism which here have one of its highest expressions.
THE HELL VALLEY
In this guided excursion you will walk through the ancient mule track, the hub of Via Francigena, which connected San Giovanni Rotondo to Manfredonia. The Valley of Hell, also used for transhumance, is one of the routes that summarizes both the natural and historical-religious aspects of the Gargano. Along the ancient mule track on February 2, 1575, in fact, the conversion of San Camillo De Lellis occurred, an event that is now remembered by the great cross on the top of the plateau. An event that has transformed this Valley into a place of faith that attracts many faithful, especially in the events related to the saint. Following the itinerary you will be struck by the overhanging rocky walls, up to 100 meters high. This valley is considered one of the most spectacular in the Gargano, and is often assumed to symbolize this morphological particularity of the southern slope of the Promontory. Karst phenomena are very obvious for caves, natural bows, pinnacles and other cavities on vertical walls that offer shelter to numerous bird birds.
ALONG THE COAST OF TRABUCCHI AND WATCH TOWERS
The coastline between Peschici and Vieste is one of the most picturesque in the Mediterranean. For more than a century, these white wooden rocks, nestled in the white rocks behind the pine forests of Aleppo, come from these authentic wood giants, the result of the anxiety of Messianic and Peschicarian fishermen
This itinerary valorizes some of the typical elements of the landscape that can be considered for all the “cultural heritage” effects of the Gargano. These giant marshalling peaks on the water are ancient fishing systems made up of large pedestrians anchored on rocks with long wooden poles, ropes and pulleys.
THE HOLY MOUNT AND THE PATH OF THE WILD ORCHIDS
With this excursion we will climb to the summit of Monte Sacro, the highest peak in the eastern Gargano north of Mattinata. It rises up to 874 meters above sea level. In the 4th century AD the mountain was still known as Monte Dodoneo, consecrated to pagan worship of Jupiter. According to an ancient tradition, after the appearance of Archangel Michael in the cave of Mount Sant’Angelo, the bishop and prelates of the area went to Mount Dodoneo, then the seat of pagan worship of Jupiter and destroyed the simulacri devoting the temple to the SS .Trinity. Since then the mountain assumed the denomination of the Sacred. Then the Abbey of Monte Sacro was the seat of the Benedictine Convent from the 6th to the 13th century AD. Thanks to the impetus of the Abbot and the literate Gregory, there was a vast library that contributed to making the Abbey one of the most important cultural centers in the Middle Ages of Apulia. You walk along the path of the orchids, on the slopes of the Sacred Mountain, in the Gargano National Park, to reach the ruins of the Benedictine Abbey. The Gargano has the highest species of species, in fact the scholars have classified around 90 varieties of orchids in the Puglia Region, of which only 86 in the Gargano Park and in this context the Mattinata area is the richest one both as a presence and as a variety. Particularly in the Monte Sacro area is DIRECTIVE 92/43 / EEC “HABITAT” for the conservation of biodiversity through conservation of natural habitats. Along the way, only a careful eye of a naturalist guide can capture the presence of small wild orchids whose height varies from 6-7 cm to just under a meter.
THE HOLY LADDER
Along the slopes of Mount Sant’Angelo that descend towards the Adriatic Sea, one of the oldest mule tracks, untiringly run by the Pilgrims Micaelici, winds through the Grotto of the Archangel Michele. The “Scannamugliera Valley” constitutes a popular deformation of the name “ScanderhMolelrh”, which, according to the famous writer Frà Marcello Cavagliere, interpreting the Gothic language means “strong and great climb”. In long stretches of the mule track there are stairs, dug in the rock by peasants, pastors and devotees to make the climb easier. The frequentation of this path by the Pilgrims Micaelici determined that, over time, it would be called “Santa Scala”. All the trail is over, very scenic, and crosses one of the most interesting rocky landscapes of the Gargano, shaped by the secular business of man. Along the route you will find terraces in good condition, ancient tuff groves, small vaulted caverns and hypogean settlements. Among the latter, the most interesting is represented by the “Ognissanti” rock church, excavated in the rock on the right ridge of the Scannamugliera Valley. In the ninth century, around the church, the inhabitants of the underlying plain gave life to a civilian agglomeration. In fact all around you can observe homes excavated in the rock, equipped with fireplaces and connected to each other, to the different levels of floor, walkways and stairways encircled in the rocky counter. The gaze can range on a large and evocative view that embraces the Gulf of Manfredonia, the Tavoliere delle Puglie, and much of the Sub-Appennine Dauno.
THE CITRUS OASIS
This route enhances the area between Rhodes, Ischitella and Vico, where the highest concentration of terraced gardens cultivated with citrus fruits is present: the Blond Orange and Lemon Femminiello Igp del Gargano, the oldest in Italy, are Slow Food also Carpino beans and Lesina eels. The scent of the hares will be inebriating during the flowering period. The citrus colors will fill our eyes … The path will reach an altar where the gaze will sprawl over lovely landscapes. From here through an ancient Tratturo you reach the church of Santa Maria Pura. In the wide space below the Church we will find a fountain, the so-called “Old Fountain”, whose waters wind up to gather in a large monumental pool dating from 1885. Crossing these gardens means diving into the habits and habits of everyday life of a time, between old “casedde”, ruins of water mills and fresh springs.
VIGNANOTICA BAY (THE LOVE PATH)
The Mergoli-Vignanotica trail takes its name from the bay of the Zagare (also known as the Mergoli, by the name of the two characteristic faraglions), visible panoramically from the beginning of the path that looks panoramically over the bay; one of the “postcard” posts of the Gargano. The path leading to the bay of Vignanotica has been renamed the “Love Trail” for the beauty of landscapes, and breathtaking panoramic views.
The whole trail is part of the Mattinata territory and falls into the Nature Reserve of Monte Barone. The charm and beauty of this trail is to be extraordinarily panoramic on the Adriatic Sea and on the eastern coast of the Gargano, featured by white limestone crags, layered together with flint as a millet.
During the walk, besides the Aleppo pines, which give a bit of shade to the walker, in the background we will always have the blue of the sea. There is also the presence of terraced olive groves that testify to the hard work of the peasants who over the centuries have wanted to make these landscapable.
A guided excursion to the ancient Diomedes, where Homer was the last mansion of the mythical hero, Ulysses’ friend. Right here in the archipelago of the Tremiti Islands, located in front of the Gargano promontory. Our excursion will lead us to discover the hidden treasures of these small islands, which fall into the Marina Tremiti Nature Reserve. Clear, crystalline waters, colorful and clean seabed, alpine vegetation, uncontaminated nature, shore-prone coastlines and suggestive caves create areas of spiritual beauty that no lovers of the sea and nature can remain impassive. We will walk on the island of San Nicola making the periple of the island, visit the abbey – the Benedictine fortress of Santa Maria, we will tell the story of thousands of workers, graduates, antifascists, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Libyans locked up among the specially constructed barracks guilty of thinking differently from the dominant power. Our trekking will continue to the tomb of Diomedes. At the end of the journey we will take a bath stop at the point where the backwater carries the submersible statue of Father Pio.