Since the end of V century, lots of pilgrims walked through the Gargano to reach the Archangel Michele’s Cave. The walking, characterized by many spiritual stages , were made with a great sense of penance, but also joyfully. To discover the mystic and naturalistic sense of this itinerary, today you can walk through the same “cammini”.
From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. meeting of participants at the Gargano Train Station of Apricena
CAMMINO: from “Ingarano” (Apricena) to the Monastery Maria SS. of Stignano (San Marco in Lamis) – 19,9 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 148 m above sea level / highest level 696 m above sea level / gap 548 m – slope 0,6% - ascent 1.015 m / descent 901 m – Journey time 6 hours – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 7 hours and 30 minutes
Passing by Ingarano, you reach the ancient village of Castelsaraceno, better known as Castel Pagano connected to the period of the Swabian domination.
The site, 545 m above sea level, is located in an area which dominates the Tavoliere and from where it “safeguards” the access way to the Mystical Gargano, that is the Via Sacra Langobardorum, from Benevento, and the confluent Via Francesca, coming from the Adriatic coastline. From here you can walk to the Monastery of Stignano.
CAMMINO: from the Monastery of Maria SS. of Stignano (San Marco in Lamis) to San Giovanni Rotondo (San Pio Shrine) – 19,7 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 270 m above sea level / highest level 956 m above sea level / gap 686 m / slope 1,8% / ascent 1.078 m / descent 731 m – Journey time 6 hours – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 7 hours and 30 minutes
Stignano Shrine represents the northern gate of the Mystical Gargano. In fact, from here you enter to the Roads of Faith of the Mystical Gargano, starting from the Via Sacra Longobardorum, a very spiritual one. From Stignano the pilgrims started their real penance path, with a great sense of sufferance, but also joyfully. Once you passed by Stignano, you reach another important monastery , the Franciscan one of San Matteo, established by Benedictines and built on the hillsides of Monte Celano in order to welcome lots of pilgrims headed for the Archangel Michele’s Cave.
The itinerary continues by walking through the Bosco della Difesa and by crossing the Monte Celano to arrive in San Giovanni Rotondo, a city famous thanks to Padre Pio from Pietralcina, who had and will always have a unique importance in the religious and civil history of the Gargano.
CAMMINO: from San Giovanni Rotondo to Monte Sant’Angelo – 23,6 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 471 m above sea level / highest level 857 m above sea level / gap 386 m / slope 1% / ascent 643 m / descent 398 m – Journey time 6 hours and 45 minutes – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 8 hours and 15 minutes
San Giovanni Rotondo is world-famous for its Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the hospital Casa della Sofferenza; it was established in 1095 on the ruins of a village dated back IV century B.C. and is positioned 624 m above sea level. From here you keep going along the Via Sacra Langobardorum, by entering the riverbed of S. Egidio (643 m above sea level – now a dried up lake) and then scrambling up from 540 m above sea level up to 623 m above sea level, and finally reaching Valle della Fratta.
Passing through Cassano, Orefice and Cima della Costa, you arrive to the Church of Madonna degli Angeli from which, after a short stop, there is the last upward trait of itinerary, which arrives to Monte Sant'Angelo (850 m above sea level), UNESCO site, ancient and actual destination of pilgrimages to the Archangel Michele’s Cave.
(excursion with a stop in Monte Sant’Angelo)
EXCURSION: Monte Sant’Angelo (UNESCO site) : “PULSANO HEREMITAGES” – 7,2 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 503 m above sea level / highest level 773 m above sea level / gap 270 m / slope -0,2% / ascent 450 m / descent 461 m
This day is committed to the discovery of the “Hermitages Valley” of Pulsano. Probably already in X – V century B.C. there were a small hermitage community devoted to Sant’Antonio. Hermitages were simple caves and small buildings positioned on high cliffs. They were in such impervious places that hermits used stairways or ropes tied to a pulley to enter them. In such a setting, full of caves, cliffs and overhangs of incredible beauty, the Pulsano Hermitages represent one of the most important religious manifestation of significative monasticism on the Gargano.
CAMMINO: from Monte Sant’Angelo to Monte Sacro – 18,5 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 450 m above sea level / highest level 855 above sea level / gap 405 m / slope -0,7% / - ascent 798 m / descent 936 m – Journey time 5 hours and 30 minutes – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes - Total journey time 7 hours
From Monte Sant’Angelo starts the walking of Pilgrims of San Michele, an interesting both for its religious meaning, and for the nature of the covered area. The history of San Michele on the Gargano came to us thanks to the book “Liber de apparizione sancti Michaelis in monte Gargano”, dated back about VIII- IX century.
The path has got also a great naturalistic value, passing through the Valle Carbonara, Piano Canale, Coppa La Monaca, Sferracavallo, Coppa Fusilio, Foresta Umbra and the wood of Vieste. These places were the seat of the ancient trucks that were walked through both by pilgrims, that honored San Michele on 9th May and 29th September, and by the shepherds, who went to livestock fairs.
The idea to revive this pilgrimage came in occasion of a round table on Gargano National Park, December 1994. After the descending from Monte Sant'Angelo to the Valle Carbonara, you have to climb up to Puntone della Giumenta, then Masseria Giardino, Masseria Rignanese, Coppa La Monaca, Sferracavallo (729 m.), Murgia Palena(713 m.) to finally arrive to Monte Sacro.
CAMMINO: from Monte Sacro to “San Salvatore” - 16,5 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 358 m above sea level / highest level 789 m above sea level / gap 431 m / slope -1,8% / ascent 405 m / descent 702 m – Journey time 4 hours and 45 minutes – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 6 hours and 15 minutes
From Monte Sacro, the itinerary goes to "San Salvatore". During the trip you are going to walk through the wonderful "Orchids route", where you can see the most beautiful species of wild Orchids, which bloom in particular during the springtime: of the 90 wild Orchid species identified by the Region Apulia, 60 can be observed in the Gargano National Park, especially in the area of Mattinata. This itinerary goes through the areas of Murgia Palena, Piscina La Signora, Piano di San Martino, Iacotenente, Coppa Fusillo, Parco Simone, Sagro, Femminamorta, till "San Salvatore". You go through the southern side of Foresta Umbra and the thick and colorful Wood of Sagro, where you can observe huge specimens of Turkey Oaks.
CAMMINO: from “San Salvatore” to Vieste – 10,8 km – HEIGHT: lowest level 11 m above sea level / highest level 396 m above sea level / gap 385 m / slope -3,1% / ascent 201 m / descent 538 m - Journey time 3 hours – Breaks time 1 hour and 30 minutes – Total journey time 4 hours and 30 minutes
On the last day of itinerary you go deeper in the area of San Salvatore, 400 m., a very charming environment because it distinguishes for its karstic phenomena such as bodies of water which contain 21 types of meteoric water, made of very singular calcareous sheets and deformed olive trees. There is salso a wide necropolis (dated back VI – III sec. B.C.) of which we have got few pieces of information, but on the base of the founded remains we could guess that it was a village of pastoralist groups . By continuing along the path, scenarios change and, passing through wide pinewoods and Mediterranean forests, you can admire beautiful landscapes from the backcountry to the coastline.
Starting from Vieste to go back to the own home. You will travel from Vieste with the bus direction Foggia Foggia or San Severo. You can check the timetables on www.sitasudtrasporti.it and www.ferroviedelgargano.com