The Gargano, also defined the “Italy’s spur”, is a huge promontory that extends for 70 km to the Adriatic Sea and that creates the Gulf of Manfredonia. The great biologic variety on its land is the result of the thousand-year old evolution of the so called “Gargano Island”. Around 160 million years ago, in fact, the present “Italy’s spur” was an island. In a time between 160 and 70 million years ago, because of many geologic and environmental phenomena, the promontory unified to the “boot”, while keeping its treasure of biologic diversity.
In order to safeguard this precious biologic variety, in 1991 the Gargano National Park has been instituted. It holds the most different ecosystems, rich in flora, fauna and gorgeous, different landscapes: hills and mountains, the archipelago of Tremiti, the lake of Lesina and Varano, deep valleys and meadows, forests and woods, indented shorelines and sea caves. All this in 120.000 hectares of land. The most evident signals of Gargano’s biodiversity can be observed in the Foresta Umbra, a giant, beech forest that is considered to be “hollowed" because the beech normally grows at a lower level if compared with the canonical 800 meters.
In the Foresta Umbra, moreover, you can observe another natural phenomenon called "plant macro-somatism”: phenomena of gigantism, on both arboreal and shrub species, result of the ancient isolation of the Promontory. each period of the year is perfect to discover the Gargano National Park. Doing trekking on the Gargano allows you to uncover this land rich not only in both history and culture, but also gorgeous natural beauties. Walking will be the most authentic and deepest way to enjoy all this, a way for both being immersed and surrounded by all the colors, sounds, smells and tastes that this land can offer.
Within 5 p.m. arrivals in Rodi Garganico and following meeting with the Association “I BAMBINI DI ANTONIO” (*) (read footnotes)
Walking from RODI GARGANICO (Piazza Garibaldi) to VICO DEL GARGANO (Via del Risorgimento)
11,4 km – lowest level 0 m above sea level – highest level 437 m above sea level - Slope 3,5% - Ascent 672 m - Descent 269 m – Journey time 4 hours – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 5 hours and 30 minutes
« They say that the scient of the orange groves on Rodi Garganico shore is such a pleasing one that brings tears to the eyes when the blooming time comes. » (Riccardo Bacchelli, from “Le arance dell'unità Italiana”)
The excursion starts in the town center of Rodi Garganico from where you reach the gorgeous coast. From the coast you will arrive to the area “Molino di mare” where the steam Asciatizzi flows into the sea. From this point, by walking along a rural road that climbs up to the hills, you go into an area rich in plants of lemons and oranges. During the blooming time here and in the whole area it is possible to smell the intense scent of the orange blossom. Once you get to the “Canneto spring”, from where a very pure water, which comes from the karstic uplands of the Gargano Promontory, gushes, you can stop and refresh, while enjoying a wonderful view.
Near the spring, nestled in a wonderful landscape, there is the rural Church of S. Maria di Canneto, built around the year 1000. By going on towards a path that passes through olive groves and plants of the Mediterranean Forest, you will reach the peak of the Monte Nicola (375 m. above sea level) from where the gaze stretches on beautiful landscapes of the whole coast and on the Tremiti Islands. From here you go on towards the area “Chianche Lisce”, and from this point you will walk along an ancient cattle track till to the Church of “Santa Maria Pura”: her origin dated back the end of ‘600 and her name comes from an ancient tradition of burying there virgins and children. Under the building there is the “Old Fountain”, water of which flows into a tank made in 1885.
After a short stop, you will reach the town center of Vico del Gargano, also known as the town of the lovers, because its protector is Saint Valentine. Do not miss out its peculiar ancient town, together with the charming “Kissing Alley”, the “Trappeto Maratea” an olive oil mill dated back to the XIV century, built in the rocks and the 400 years-old holm oak, in front of the Cappuccini monastery.
Walking from VICO DEL GARGANO (Via del Risorgimento) to PESCHICI (Piazza 4 Novembre)
18,4 km – lowest level 8 m above sea level – highest level 570 m above sea level – Slope -1,9% - Ascent 643 m – Descent 1.003 m – Journey time 6 hours - Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 7 hours and 30 minutes
The itinerary goes along a rural path that goes down to reach the Steam Romandato, where starts the fascinating Canyon dug by the power of the ancient river, now dried out. From this point the way is upward through a thick wood, among chestnut trees, hazelnut trees, wild pear trees and Turkey oaks till you arrive to the nearest extremities of the Foresta Umbra, the huge centuries-old beech forest of Apulien. The path still goes along a path on a ridge between Vico del Gargano and Peschici. From this point it is possible to cherish a very beautiful view on Vico del Gargano on the left and the view on Peschici and the seaside on the right.
In the land you passed through you can see scattered masserie, wide wild areas partially reforested in the last years, and small plots of land with specialized crops (in particular grapevines). On the slopes of the town of Vico instead, stretches olives groves, a recurring typology in the landscape of Gargano, which envelop like a crown the houses. The shoreline, distinguished by deep inlets surrounded by steep cliffs, is one of the most suggestive of Gargano. You can enjoy from here a beautiful view on Peschici, on the Adriatic sea and on Croatian islands, and then keep going downhill in a wood of Conifers and Mediterranean forest, till Peschici.
Walking from PESCHICI (Piazza 4 November) to the area “SFINALICCHIO”
15,7 km – lowest level 0 m above sea level – highest level 120 m above sea level – Slope -0,4% - Ascent 638 m – Descent 700 m - Journey time 5 hours – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes - Total journey time 6 hours and 30 minutes
The itinerary goes along the segment of seashore from Peschici to “Sfinalicchio”. You can observe high cliffs overlooking the sea, enchanted bays, sea caves that had been inhabited since the Bronze Age, the fire towers, fortifications built to defend the land from the Saracenic joyride, and the evocative trabucchi, ancient and picturesque fishing machines stretched on the sea, which were already used by Phoenicians. The itinerary passes through the Procinisco Beach; Punta, Trabucco and San Nicola Beach; Zaiana Beach; Punta, Trabucco, e Grottone of Manaccora; Manaccora Bay; Trabucco, Torre and Calalunga Beach; Turkish Beach; Torre and Gusmay Beach; Manacora Beach; Trabucco Furcichella; Torre and Sfinale Beach to finally arrive to the border line between Peschici and Vieste.
By venturing into marvelous natural landscapes, forests, pinewoods and the prosperous vegetation of the Mediterranean Forest, you can reach the “Under Rocks Refuge” of “Sfinalicchio”, an area characterized by important archeological witnesses. Inside the refuge, which dated back the Paleolithic (12.000 / 11.000 years ago) there are engravings and compositions that create an articulate expression of graffiti, recognized as the best one of this kind in Apulia.
Walking from “SFINALICCHIO” to VIESTE (Piazza Kennedy)
13,6 km – lowest level 0 m above sea level - highest level 34 above sea level - Slope -0,1% - Ascent 303 m - Descent 316 m - Journey time 4 hours and 30 minutes – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 6 hours
The itinerary goes along the coast that is now more indented and rich in sea caves. Passing beyond the Beaches Sfinalicchio, Crovatico, Stretta and La Chianca, you will arrive to the Archeological Park Necropolis Paleo-Christian “La Salata”, natural oasis managed by the Parish “S. Giorgio” in Vieste. It is a Paleo-Christian Necropolis made by more than 300 thumbs dug into the rock, which date back about III-IV century. AD. It is defined by archeologists as the greatest and most charming Necropolis in the Mediterranean basin, in a suggestive natural setting made by Mediterranean forest and two karstic fountains which gush from the cave called “La Salata”.
Then, we continue along the path by walking though Scialmarino Beach, Trabucco and Porticello Tower, the beaches Molinella, Braico, Punta Lunga, Grotta dei Colombi, Dietro San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo until the wonderful Vieste. During the history, the city has been attacked and ransacked: among others, in 1239 by Venetians and in 1554 we remember the bloody siege made by Turks, led by the terrible Dragut Rais.
from VIESTE to TREMITI ISLANDS (via motor vessel)
This is the first day devoted to discover the “Pearls of Adriatic”: the wonderful Tremiti Islands. You board in Vieste to reach the San Nicola Island and start a tour on a large boat of the archipelago in order to discover the charming sea caves, wild coves, the gorgeous sea scenarios and the submerged statue of San Pio from Pietrelcina. After the boat tour you will visit the Isle of San Nicola, the old town and administrative center of the Island, together with its famous fortress, the abbey of Santa Maria a Mare, characterized by its complex architectural structure and by the wonderful mosaic on the central aisle floor. The ancient isle penitentiary was a penal colony already in 1783, place for the exile of Libyans and also of the ex- President of the Republic Sandro Pertini, during the Fascist regime. The walking goes on till the isle tip, surrounded by a great Mediterranean forest.
TREMITI ISLANDS (morning)
The itinerary of day seven aims to let you discover San Domino, the biggest island of the archipelago of Tremiti and the most popular among tourists too. Almost wholly covered by Aleppo pinewoods and the scented Mediterranean forest, with junipers, rosemary and myrtle, this isle is also called the “paradise garden” because of the fertility of soil and the great number of plants and flowers. Since ancient times, the Tremiti Islands are also known as “Diomedee” Islands, because of the ancient legend related to the myth of Diomede. The famous Homer’s hero, after the fall of Troy, wandered in the Adriatic Sea until he stepped in the Daunia, where he founded created many towns. Diomede, however, spent the rest of his life in the archipelago of Tremiti where he has been buried. The tale (found in papers written by Homer, Virgil, Pliny the Elder) says that his companion, transformed into birds by the Goddess Venus, keep watching the eternal sleep of their hero and cry for his departure through their nocturnal calls, similar to a complain. The itinerary of the Tremiti Islands concludes in the afternoon, when boarding the boat to go back to Rodi Garganico.
« …the historic dimension of those islands is not to forget. I advise you to spend a holiday in the sign of knowledge, in order to find again an historic memory of the archipelago, main character, in the past centuries, of important historical events. These isles are so rich in history, culture and tales that worth it to know in order to fully enjoy them. » (LUCIO DALLA, from a web interview, May 2002)
From RODI GARGANICO towards home.
Social activities are foreseen during this itinerary. There will be meetings and sharing moments with some local associations that engage in non-profit activities, aid for local communities. You will meet:
• The association “I BAMBINI DI ANTONIO” of Rodi Garganico grounded by Piero Gallo and Anna Tamburrano, parents of Antonio Maria Gallo, that want to keep alive the memory of their prematurely departed son, together with the young, prematurely and sadly cut lives. Their project aims to help the very poor population of Kapeeka in UGANDA (Africa), with a special care for children, that represent the future of the world.
• The association SANTA MARIA PURA of Vico del Gargano, grounded in 2001 by Michele, Francesco and Nicola, which aims to the maintenance and keeping of a small church for religious ceremonies and cultural events.
• The association NAZIONALE CARABINIERI of Vico del Gargano, that is socially engaged through volunteering ” and many sportive, leisure and cultural initiatives.
• The cultural association, “L’ARCOBALENO” of Peschici offers non-profit activities that encourage the spread and study of art disciplines, in particular music and theatre. It aims to offer all the necessary services needed to train the communities with art disciplines, in particular of youngest.
• La SOCIETY of STORIA PATRIA of Vieste deals with the valorization of history and local culture. In the last years it focused on some personalities from Vieste like Mimmo Sesta and Gigi Spina, who built the “tunnel 29” under the Berlin Wall; Pier Luigi Torre, engineer who projected the famous “Lambretta”, the “Savoia-Marchetti S.55” and the first “black box”.
• The “SOVRANO ORDINE of PELLEGRINI of SAN MICHELE” deals with the valorization of the ancient pilgrimage form Vieste to Monte Sant'Angelo. The Pilgrims, after work, every year on 7th May and 28th September, walked to the Archangel Cave by night. This “cammino” was not so popular anymore but now has been revived thanks to the engagement of this Association.
PEOPLE RELATED TO THOSE PLACES
• ANDREA PAZIENZA, cartoonist, painter and illustrator who made also poster for the cinema (as “La città delle donne” by Federico Fellini), theatre and many album covers. Many work of important personalities have been dedicated to him.
• GIACOMO MICAGLIA, linguist. Maybe relative of the intellectual Pietro Giannone, who confirmed his roots, by naming the Gargano in a work of him.
• PIETRO GIANNONE, philosopher, historian and jurist, prominent personality of the Italian Enlightenment.
• CESARE TURCO, Renaissance painter, pupil of Giovanni Antonio d'Amato and Andrea Sabatini. His paintings can be found in Naples.
• DOMENICO SANGILLO, painter and poet.
• GIUSEPPE CASSIERI, writer and comedy writer
• POPE GREGORIO XIII.
• VINCENZO GIULIANI, doctor, historian and archaeologist.
• LORENZO FAZZINI, physician and mathematician.
• GAETANO EMANUELE FAZZINI, architect.
• FRANCESCO DELL'ERBA, writer and journalist.
• LUCIO DALLA, musician, actor and songwriter. He has been one of the most important, prominent and innovative Italian songwriter ever.
• “IL PIATTO PIANGE” (1962) novel by Piero Chiara. It entails a clear reference to Rodi Garganico.
• “IL TUNNEL DELLA LIBERTA'” of Ellen Sesta. The extraordinary adventure of two Italians in Berlin in 1961.
• “L'ISOLA DI CRISTALLO” novel by Maria Carmela Mugnano, set in the Tremiti Islands
• “LE ARANCE DELL’UNITA’ ITALIANA” novel by Riccardo Bacchelli
MOVIES: NOT TO MISS
• “ECCE HOMO”, you can clearly identify the Tower of Monte Pucci, the Kàlena Abbey and some inhabitants of Peschici.
• “I CAVALIERI CHE FECERO L'IMPRESA” by Pupi Avati (2001). The location was Peschici.
• “UN'ESTATE AL MARE”, by brothers Vanzina (2008). The first episode has been shot in Peschici.
• “PAZ' 77”, a documentary film by Stefano Mordini (2001).
• “PAZ !”, film by Renato De Maria (2002). Related to Andrea Pazienza’s movie.
• “IL TUNNEL DELLA LIBERTA'” TV movie by Enzo Monteleone (2004) on “Tunnel 29”.
• “LA LEGGE”, by Jules Dassin (1958) shot in Rodi Garganico, Peschici and Carpino.
• “VIOLENZA AL SOLE”, by Florestano Vancini (1969) shot in the charming set of Tremiti Isles.
• “LA CASA IN RIVA AL MARE” by Lucio Dalla. Written in the Tremiti Islands, it tells about the story of a prisoner.
• “LUNA MATANA” album by Lucio Dalla. The title refers to the inlet in San Domino Island, where there where the house and the study of the artist.