This is an excerpt from the book “Apulia”.
Orchids in the Natural Park – Photo © Renata
The Mediterranean spirit which exists in the Gargano region strokes even the least sensitive traveler. It’s not only perceptible on cliffs, in woods or on the rocky white spurs, It’s the very essence of the Gargano. This peninsula is pointing out towards Greece and the Balkan coast.
With the passing of the seasons, the colors multiply and then fade, telling of luxuriance or the struggle for survival.
The spirit of the Mediterranean tells the tale of a partly forgotten world where orange and olive groves fill the air with their heady scent at every breath of wind, and all the senses are alerted to Nature in its daily recital.
Things to do…
You can go to the National Park of Gargano to see the spontaneously growing orchid flowers.
Autumn in the Park: we are near one of the most beautiful seasons to live in the Park. Visiting Gargano in autumn is a unique and exciting experience.
This is the period of the year in which nature dresses many colors, animals put on their wonderful winter mantle to face the cold weather. Everything falls in a fascinating and surreal silence and the breeze, even if cold, begins to gently caress our face. In these heavenly environments the threshold between fairy tale and reality disappears.
Gargano: Man and the land
Panorama from Gargano – Photo © Renata
Man has always wrested areas from Nature on which to build homes, grow crops and rear animals. The Gargano area is a perfect example of how man has managed to find his niche and nurture life in an area which seems impossible to tame.
It is from this very centuries-old relationship of interdependence between man and nature that the charm of the Gargano stems. Witness Peschici, balancing on a breth-taking cliff, or Monte Sant’Angelo, embracing the cave chosen by the Archangel Michael to appear to man. Witness the houses in Vico, which perch on the hill following its natural curves.
These are but a few examples of man’s impact on the area.
Gargano: A land of Holiness
There are a places which, as a result of their history, position or the exceptional events which occurred there, are shrouded in a veil of almost tangible sacral athmosphere pervading every nook and cranny.
The Gargano is a “holy” land, a much-visited venue for some of the most important religious gatherings on a world-wide scale. The apparition of the Archangel Michael on Mount Gargano is without doubt the core of religious experience in this land. Thousands of pilgrims travel to visit the cold, dark grotto which Michael chose as his earthly dwelling.
But it is not only the cult of St. Michael which exalts the religious spirit of this area – there are the many churches, set against breath-taking backdrops, such as the Convent of St. Matthew in San Marco in Lamis.
In more recent times, the presence of Padre Pio, who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo, has provided a strong attraction for millions of people. But it is the Gargano as a whole which expresses its divine beauty in every time and space.
Gargano: Food for the five senses
A table spread with the local dishes and products of this area is a feast for the senses. The variety of colors of the fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, cheeses and soups charm the eye and the spirit, and the nostrils are assailed with aromas at once delicate and heady. Tasting these dishes and the combinations of flavors is not the final act of a journey through the cuisine of this area. There is the history of this land, which tells of culinary “inventions”, different biotopes which have mingles dishes and foods from mountain, sea and lakeside areas, and from the various peoples who, from time to time, have passed through the area, leaving their mark on the culinary traditions of Gargano.
Local delights include lamb, kid, eel, orange and lemons salads, stuffed morsels, cheeses, broad beans, snail soup, grape and fig cordials, macaroni with goat’s meat sauce…
But what lends the most intense flavor to all these dishes is the olive oil which the land of Gargano so generously produces.
Texts courtesy of Comunita’ Montana del Gargano