The Gargano Promontory, in the northeast of southern Italy's Puglia region, is sometimes called the spur of the boot. The Gargano offers a diverse environment with a variety of interesting places to visit and one could easily spend a week or more seeing its attractions. The coastline offers good beaches and inland you'll find medieval towns and a national park. A scenic road runs along much of the rocky, uneven coastline, jutting inland in places and offering a pleasant drive for those exploring by car.
In addition to the clean, sandy beaches along the promontory's north coast from Rodi Garganico to Vieste, here's where to go in Gargano:
- Monte Sant' Angelo is the highest point on the promontory (840 meters above sea level). The town has a charming and picturesque historic center (one of the best in Puglia), a castle, the Tancredi Museum of Traditional Life, 13th-century frescoes in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the interesting and popular pilgrimage Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael where you can visit the grotto and two museums. Eat traditional food (including what Arthur Miller ate in 1948) at the popular la Caravella Ristorante on Via Reale Basilica near the sanctuary. Arthur Miller ate at the owner's former restaurant and described his meal in his story, Monte Sant' Angelo.
- Vico Garganico has an interesting medieval center with many small alleyways and remains of its castle. Stop in at Bar Pasticiera Pizzicato, on the edge of the historic center, for a coffee and pastry or an apertivo. Pizzicato also has vacation apartments, making this town a great base. In the historic center eat at il Trappeto Cantina, where you can try typical dishes in an old olive oil mill.
- Rodi Garganico has a well-kept medieval quarter, a modern harbor, and is known for its lemon and orange groves.In the summer, it's a point of departure for hydrofoils going to the Tremeti Islands, group of tiny islands in the Adriatic Sea and a popular destination for Italian vacationers.
- Peschici has a small historic center and nice views of the sea. In the center is an interesting recreation of a one-room house (where 11 people and their donkey lived), typical of the town through the early 20th century. It houses the presepe (an elaborate nativity) so look for the sign to the presepe. Enjoy fresh fish straight from the sea at the Trabucco di Monte Pucci, a little ways from Peschici.
- Vieste, on the tip of the peninsula, the holiday capital of the Gargano, has many seaside resorts and an interesting historic center with lots of staircases. Fromm Vieste, you can rent a small boat or go aboard one of several daily guided boat trips to the sea caves of the Gargano. Carved into ocean cliffs, the caves, many of which contain hidden beaches, offer picturesque scenery and a real sense of adventure.
- Manfredonia, at the base of the Gargano Promontory, was founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC. Today it offers a 15th-century castle and a cathedral with frescoes from the 1300s.
- Padre Pio Sanctuary in San Giovanni Rotondo is a very popular pilgrimage site. There is a museum dedicated to Padre Pio and visitors can see his tomb. The new Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church was designed by Renzo Piano to accommodate the large number of pilgrims. Padre Pio Visiting Information
- Foresta Umbra, a national park, is the forested center of the peninsula. There are many hiking trails and a small visitor center. In summer it's a great place to escape the heat. Stay or eat at Rifugio Sfilzi where you can try local products including homemade pasta (reservations required).
- Jeep Tour with Indiana Gianni offers an unforgettable trip into the forest by jeep to see places not usually seen by tourists. Although Gianni doesn't speak English, he makes the trip enjoyable and lively. Email Gianni at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue to our Gargano Travel Guide for essential information about visiting Gargano, including where to stay and how to get there.