Delicious Italy has been to the Gargano promontory in north Puglia, province of Foggia, on two occasions. The first was a short 2 day trip organised by the parish in Rome with a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo, where we stayed, and further short visits to Monte Sant'Angelo for the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, and the Abbey of Santa Maria di Pulsano.
The second trip was courtesy of the SIAFT (Southern Italy Agrifood and Tourism) invitation we received in June 2011. But with one big difference, the visit this time was by light aeroplane over the whole Gargano zone. For the record, the flight track list was the following:
- 01 Parco Nazionale del Gargano
- 02 San Giovanni Rotondo (above)
- 03 Castelpagano
- 04 Dolina Pozzatina
- 05 Cave di Apricena
- 06 Lago di Lesina
- 07 Torre Mileto
- 08 Lago di Varano (below)
- 09 Piano di Carpino
- 10 Rodi Garganico
- 11 Vico del Gargano
- 12 Peschici
- 13 Vieste (top image)
- 14 Foresta Umbra
- 15 Abbey of Monte Sacro
- 16 Monte Sant'Angelo
- 17 Abbey of Santa Maria di Pulsano
The view from above was pretty special, but the real joy of visiting Gargano is on the ground and with a guide explaining the passage of crusaders, pilgrims and invading armies.
Monte Sant'Angelo is full of medieval masonic symbolism if you look carefully, and the grotto dedicated to the Saint is spectacular. But the overlooked Abbey of San Leonardo di Siponto on the road to Manfredonia was the one which really captured our imagination.
As well as being located on the tratturo of the transumanza sheep migration route to and from Foggia, it was also a stop on the pilgrim route to the Holy Land offering accommodation after its foundation by Augustinian monks in 1390. At the time it was called called San Leonardo in Lama Volara.
It was subsequently run by the Teutonic Knights of the Santa Sepolcro as medieval politics turned up the heat. Their white tunic featured a distinct black cross.
Do go for the either the spring or autumn solstices when the sun's rays pierce the 'Foro Gnomonico' around 4pm. The light cuts the nave and illuminates the floor with a medallion effect.
The abbey used to be much bigger, but a large part was destroyed by British troops who were based here during the Second World War.
Maybe the Teutonic history was too much for them, as the Brits used the grounds to blow up munitions dumps.