Walking trip in the Gargano peninsula, Puglia
Self-guided tour – 7 days
The Gargano peninsula is one of the most unknown and yet unspoiled areas of our tiny Italian heel. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, its position, combined with a karstic soil and different microclimates, creates the perfect habitat for a wide range of botanical and animal species.
Can you name another place where is possible to walk among wild orchids, Mediterranean scrub and pinewoods perched on white cliffs? Do not forget the Umbra Forest beechwood (declared UNESCO site in 2017), as well as kestrels, deer and ‘Podolica’ cattle at pasture.
While wandering around the Gargano National Park, it is very easy to be amazed one-step after another. Gargano is fascinating not just for its natural heritage, but also for its ancient history.
The Daunians, a tribe of conquerors from the other side of the Adriatic, got here in the VII century BC, leaving a culture of funerary steles and geometrical pottery. During medieval times, Gargano became an extraordinary pilgrimage centre, where people from all over the Christian world used to gather at Saint Michael sanctuary. For this reason, Gargano was known as the ‘Holy Mountain’.
This beautiful area will amaze you with stunning landscapes, relaxing paths into the woods and captivating history. Not to mention the delicious and genuine cuisine and mild local manners.
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DAY 1: MONTE SANT'ANGELO
Arrival in Monte Sant’Angelo and check-in. Welcome briefing with a member of Puglia Hiking Tours staff.
Free time to visit the historical city centre: discover the medieval castle, the Sanctuary – today a UNESCO site and one of the most beautiful natural caves of the world! –, the Santa Maria Maggiore church with its frescoes, the ‘Junno’ old district with its whitewashed low houses. If you get hungry during the walk, do not miss one of the many delicious bakery around!
DAY 2: MONTE SANT'ANGELO - MATTINATA
The first of your hiking trails in Gargano starts in Monte Sant’Angelo, approximately 800mt above sea level. From here, you will smoothly descend towards Mattinata and the coastline, walking on hidden ‘tratturi’ – ancient shepherds paths – between terraces and dry-stone walls. Passing through a shady pinewood, you will reach the bottom of Carbonara Valley.
After a few kilometres, between country lanes and olive groves by the sea, you will finally get to the small town of Mattinata.
Elev. Gain +84/-874 mt
DAY 3: MATTINATA LOOP (MONTE SARACENO)
Today’s walk will give you the opportunity to go up to the nearby Monte Saraceno and to discover its ancient Daunians necropolis, the place where this fierce population used to bury important members of the community.
From here, you can enjoy a stunning view of the Gargano white coast, together with the Mattinata plain landscape, full of olive groves and fields.
A trail through the Mediterranean bush will take you to the renowned pebble beach of Mattinata. Then, a quiet path will take you back to your accommodation.
Elev. Gain +266/-288 mt
DAY 4: MATTINATA - MONTE SACRO
Starting from Mattinata, get ready for a nice walk in the hidden green ‘mulattiere’, old countryside trails originally walked by pack animals like mules.
You will pass through Ripe Rosse, a red limestone cliff overlooking the bay, until you reach the Tagliata valley.
This is a perfect example of Gargano inland. It is easy to find the typical natural rainwater pools of the area, named ‘cutini’, in a scenery dotted by rolling hills, wild orchids, kestrels, and ‘podolica’ cattle at pasture.
The last climb of the day will pay off all your efforts: once on the top, take a deep breath and enjoy the silent ruins of the Monte Sacro Abbey, a jewel placed in the deep forest of the so-called Holy Mountain.
Elev. Gain +1023/-425 mt
DAY 5: MONTE SACRO - FORESTA UMBRA - MASSERIA SGARRAZZA
Leaving Monte Sacro, and taking the old Saint Michael pilgrims’ route, you will get to the extreme south-east border of the Umbra Forest. Thanks to the peninsula’s isolation over the ages, you will have the chance to walk through extraordinary maple woods, monumental oaks of different species, and magnificent beech woods, now belonging to the UNESCO heritage. Once out of the green forest, a path amid pastures and Mediterranean scrub will lead you to Masseria Sgarrazza, a real farmhouse still in business.
Elev. Gain +256/-536 mt
DAY 6: MASSERIA SGARRAZZA - VIESTE
Starting from Masseria Sgarrazza, you will head again towards the coast, across olive groves, pines and scents of rosemary and thyme. You will notice Vieste from far away: perched on a white cliff, overlooking an astonishing turquoise sea, its magical atmosphere makes it the town of lovers.
Take some time for a walk in the narrow alleys of the old town centre, a visit to the imposing mediaeval Basilica, or an unforgettable ‘trabucco’ experience.
Elev. Gain +165/-486 mt
DAY 7: VIESTE
After breakfast, check-out and end of services.
You can book an extra day in Vieste: the perfect way to take advantage of the white long beaches, or take a boat trip (weather permitted!) to explore the several sea caves and coves along the Gargano coastline, or even to reach the famous Tremiti Islands.