A large number of trips and excursions is organized in the Gargano peninsula to enable visitors to learn its many facets. Here we describe some of the most beautiful ones.
A STROLL AROUND THE NATIONAL PARK
Many excursions depart from Rodi to discover the mysteries of the Gargano National Park.
If you love horses, a horse farm just 5 minutes from the hotel offers (in the summer) the possibility to stroll in the woods or by the sea riding beautiful and docile specimens.
If instead you love adventure, all the customers who have tried a Land Rover ride name it the most exclusive experience of all. An unusual guide, the funny Indiana Gianni, will take you through the canyons of the now dry stream bed of the Torrente Romondato, among beeches, black pines and secular oaks, on the green hills of the Gargano promontory, to the Biogenetic Reserve of the Gargano National Park, along the lakeshore of the Foresta Umbra, along the roads of Vico, the town of San Valentino, up to the beautiful Pineta Marzini. During the excursion, in the name of adventure, nature, authenticity and local gastronomy, Indiana Gianni will explain the mysteries and peculiarities of nature, from the karst phenomenon to the resin extraction from the lofty black pines, and he will unravel his very personal secrets on fishing…
In addition to the fallow deer in the reserve, you may see wild or non-wild animals during the trip, such as Podoliche cows (breed of domestic cattle) and black goats form Gargano; the variety and beauty of the natural landscapes that you will encounter will be the object of your snapshots.
The standard excursion lasts 3-4 hours and can be done in the morning or in the afternoon.
THE CHARMING TREMITI ISLANDS
The Tremiti Islands are one of the most important and appealing tourist destinations of Apulia, thanks to their crystal-clear waters, fabulous landscapes of natural beaches and coves, and the beauty of the coastal limestone formations. Waves and winds have been shaping them to form rocks, cliffs, natural arches and fascinating caves since the dawn of time.
The legend tells that the Greek hero Diomedes came here returning from the Trojan War and he remained until his death; it says that his tomb is protected by his companions, transformed by Venus in the typical sea birds that inhabit the island, the great albatrosses, whose verses recall the cry of a child.
The archipelago consists of four beautiful islands. The island of San Domino, entirely covered by a lush pine forest of Aleppo pines, is the largest and the most attractive tourist destination. Its coast has stunning beaches and coves, including Cala degli Inglesi, delle Roselle, Cala Martano and Cala Rossa, Grotte delle Viole and del bue Marino, Punta del Pigno and Punta dell’elefante. The island of San Nicola is the administrative and religious seat of the archipelago; here you can visit the ancient abbey of Santa Maria a Mare, a fine example of the fusion of Byzantine and Romantic art, founded in 1045 by Benedictine monks. Then there is the island of Capraia, whose name is probably due to the caper plants or the presence of wild goats. Finally, to complete the picture of the Diomedee Islands, there is the remotest island of Pianosa and some large rocks including Cretaccio and Vecchia. Since 1989 the Isole Tremiti are a Marine Natural Reserve. The bottoms of the Isole Tremiti allow for some of the most beautiful dives of the entire Mediterranean Sea. The great naturalistic value and clearness of the waters allow you to see sponges already a few meters deep. Deeper you will come across luxuriant and colourful gorgonians, near which you can see groupers, moray eels, conger eels and lobsters. Eventually, if you are lucky, you can also see an ancient statue of Padre Pio, guarded by 11-meter deep waters.
From Rodi Garganico, the Isole Tremiti can be easily reached by a motorboat service from the harbour. It guarantees fast daily connections, which are safe and comfortable, with possible excursions in the archipelago and visits of the enchanting marine caves. If you prefer a sailing boat, Captain Gigi, weather and sea conditions permitting, offers unforgettable trips – day or night – along the wonderful Gargano coast, to the Isole Tremiti or even trawling trips, on board of Sembel, a Gilardoni 11-meter long centreboard in excellent conditions equipped with all comforts and the most modern navigation instruments. We wish you fair winds!
THE GARGANO COAST AND SEA CAVES
Another main attraction of Gargano is its striking coast, and there’s no better way to explore it than from the sea… Here sea, rock, vegetation and sky come together in various ways, resulting in unique landscapes, such as inlets and beaches sheltered from white rock walls overlooking the sea and pine trees that are reflected in the blue sea. The countless and beautiful caves are really impressive. They are carved over the millennia, by the sea and by the wind on this unique stretch of coast. Some caves have very large interiors with big spaces and in typical dome shape and heights that are just over fifty meters (like Grotta Campana Grande); others instead have lost “the roof” or part of it due to the air compression, which in some cases involves a constant caves extension causing their vault to sink. Sometimes circular holes allow light to create beautiful stroboscopic effects on the water surface and on the walls of these natural spaces, as in the case of Grotta Sfondata and Grotta dei Due Occhi.
Inside the caves, mosses and lichens give striking colours, as for example Grotta dei Pomodori! Equally impressive and symbolic is Arco degli Innamorati…
Special boats leave daily from Rodi and go around the stretch of coast of Rodi, Peschici and Vieste. On the way you can admire cliffs, caves interiors, architielli (arches carved in the rocks), coves, trabucchi (old fishing machines) and federiciane towers (architecture from the period of Frederick II). Moreover you can also see entire towns perched over the sea and beautiful bays repaired by greenery and by rock, some of pebbles, others of fine sand. In these oases with their clear waters a dip to experience the magic of nature is inevitable.
GARGANO, RELIGIOUS TOUR
Gargano, besides boasting a remarkable natural heritage, is also a land of Saints. The favourite destinations of tourists and pilgrims from around the world include: the land of San Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo and the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo in Monte Sant’Angelo.
San Giovanni Rotondo, once a plain farming village, became the destination of pilgrimages because of the sanctity of the Capuchin friar, who arrived in 1916 from Pietrelcina.
The story of San Pio belongs now to humankind. The remains of the Saint, who was canonized in 2002, are in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built next to the original chapel where the friar began his ministry. Padre Pio highly encouraged the construction of a healthcare facility; to him we owe the building of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, which is one of the most important Italian hospitals. Today it’s still expanding thanks to the offerings the saint still receives. Recently a new church was built to the name of San Pio, a monumental work, designed in modern style by Renzo Piano, architect of international reputation.
Monte Sant’Angelo is located 843 meters above sea level, on the southern spur of the Gargano promontory. It’s famous thanks to the apparitions of the Archangel Michael, between 490 and 493 AD in the so called Sacra Grotta, on which the Basilica was built. In addition to the Basilica, Monte Sant’Angelo also boasts a Norman castle and many other churches and baptisteries that need to be visited, including the Abbey of Pulsano. The tradition tells that Archangel Michael also appeared in a second cave, now a sanctuary, three kilometres from Cagnano Varano; this cave, less famous than the first but equally impressive, is a hundred meters long and is located along the shore of Lake Varano, together with its cave church.