Itinerary: Gargano National Park, Umbra Forest, Apricena, San Giovanni Rotondo, Carpino
Strolling in Gargano National Park and Umbra Forest, Italy
During this tour, you can discover the wild nature of Gargano, an area that belongs to the Puglia region. Gargano is washed by the Adriatic Sea but also features the harshness of the green hills of the Umbra Forest (Riserva Naturale Foresta Umbra) (pic n°1), whose name comes from Latin and means shady, gloomy.
The mountainous area of Gargano Promontory, together with the Umbra Forest and Tremiti Islands are parts of the Gargano National Park, which was established in 1991 covering a wide area in the province of Foggia. This park is a great destination for nature and animal lovers, as it hosts many plants and flowers (including 80 different species of orchids), as well as many species of aquatic birds, mammals and reptiles.
This tour starts from Apricena, located in the western side of Gargano National Park, between Puglia plains and Mount Gargano. Apricena is also known as the City of Stone, as it is famous for its quarries (pic n°3), whose calcareous stones are exported all over the world. This local stone was also used to rebuild Apricena's Chiesa Matrice dei Santi Martino e Lucia, a beautiful church that had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1627. The stones of the former and destroyed bell tower have been used to build the nearby Clock Tower.
Driving along the state road, you will get to the village of San Giovanni Rotondo, which is located right in the heart of Gargano National Park. This town is home to many beautiful churches and remarkable buildings. It is an important religious destination, as the remains of Saint Pio from Pietralcina are preserved here. The town is also a good starting point for nature-friendly trips to Bosco Quarto (pic n°5), which is the largest forest area in the region together with Umbra Forest or to Valle dell'Inferno (the Valley of Hell), a rocky gorge that is famous for the very high temperatures in summer.
Driving 25 kilometers east through Valle Carbonara, you will get to Monte Sant'Angelo, a town nestled in an ancient landscape made of oaks and cedars, where foxes, badgers, and wild boars live. Located 800 meters above sea level, it features lots of buildings, monuments and historical quarters, together with Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo, a shrine that has been a worldwide-famous pilgrimage destination for centuries. This is the town where the headquarters of Gargano National Park is placed.
The last stop of the tour is Carpino (pic n°5), an old village located 30 kilometers north of San Giovanni Rotondo and mainly known for its production of oil and beans. Its territory is a protected area, called Riserva Naturale Ischitella e Carpino (pic n°6), inhabited by deer, wildcats, dormice, weasels, badgers, foxes, hares, wild boars, and various species of birds.
A not-to-be-missed place of this reserve is the beech wood called Coppa delle Rose (pic n°6), considered as one of the most interesting forests of Gargano. Thanks to a special microclimate, the beeches of this forest are huge and grow at a lower altitude than the average.
Length: Km 77
Some pictures of Gargano National Park:
Umbra Forest (Riserva Naturale Foresta Umbra) (pic n°1); Landscape (pic n°2); Apricena, the City of Stone (pic n°3); View (pic n°4); Bosco Quarto (Forest Quarto) (pic n°5); Carpino (pic n°6)