One Day in Gargano’s Paradise
The 4th of July was my birthday. So, what can a person who loves travelling do for her birthday?
Take a place on the map and go there.
I chose the Apulian region and, to be more specific, the Gargano area because of a TV program.
Any reason is good, just travel.
My grandpa was from Apulia, the Manduria area, but I don’t know this part of Italy very well.
I’m not used to traveling in the South of Italy, and the first thing I noticed was something wild in the air and the silence.
In central Italy there is a lot of nature, but it’s domesticated: crops and country houses, small villages, and small rivers. It’ s made by and for human beings.
In Apulia there were crops too, but no houses for kilometers.
My partner and I stopped in Lucera, a nice village with a perfectly preserved Roman amphitheater and a fortress overlooking the plain below. Apulia is one of the few Italian regions with extensive plains.
We went on the hill to visit the majestic fortress (only the walls remained) and it seemed to me as if we were in “Mad Max 2,” the movie with Mel Gibson. There were only cultivated fields below us, very few houses, and the sound of cicadas. Where were the people?
For lunchtime I heartily recommend “Enogastronomia da Alfredo” at San Severo, the town near Lucera.
We arrived there almost dead, shocked by the heat and the hours spent driving.
It was like the medieval pilgrims who arrived at the monastery (today I’m obsessed with movie scenes): they greeted us with a smile and two hot little calzoni, which were on the house.
Then we ate fish for lunch (tuna tartare with fresh vegetables and bruschettas with marinated anchovies and roasted tomatoes) and took eggplants parmigiana to go. Before we went away, the owner told us :“This is also for you, two little pieces of focaccia.”
Neither my grandmas take care of guests in this way.
I don’t think this is the normal way they act with customers, but we moved them, I guess.
After lunch, the next stopover was Vieste, one of the white treasures you find here on the coast.
Gargano is a peninsula on the peninsula, a National park where a week is not enough to visit all interesting places.
Even here I could see only greenery for kilometers: olive trees on the plains, olive trees on hills, olive trees everywhere. Some cows and some sheep. Where were the people? On the beach, of course.
We arrived at Vieste and we stopped the car in front of the shore: before visiting the village, it was beachtime!
The blue sea, the velvet sand: that place is a paradise.
Vieste is really nice, as other places here: white houses, narrow alleys, good food.
Even if this area is full of tourists, prices are good and people are nice.
If you come here for more than a few hours, I suggest you do the cave tour. I saw some videos and I think it’s amazing.
The last place we visited was Rodi Garganico: this town is famous for its citruses.
When the trees are in blossom, the air smell so good in Rodi that you can’t believe it. All around the city center there are cultivation of these precious fruits, you can buy here all year long.
We arrived at dinnertime, the sun was setting over the sea and swallows and seagulls were flying above the shore.
Then we had dinner in a little shop called “I fritti di Mina,” on the main street: we tried the typical panzerotti, a deep fried calzone filled with ricotta salata cheese and fresh tomatoes. With a cold beer, it was the right ending of a great day.
I bought the ricotta to try this recipe at home, and we were ready to leave.
On the way back home, I noticed the darkness: on the road there was no one, to the right and to the left I could see only olive trees. No lights, no people, it was like discovering the night for the first time.
And finally I understood something about my country: Italy is not one nation, it’s one thousand countries, and you must visit all of them to understand who we are. The wild Gargano will remain in my mind for long time, as the memory of a great adventure.
By Dafne Perticarini.