Established in 1977, the Gargano National Park stretches over nearly 1,200 square km in the province of Foggia, Puglia.
The whole area is a popular holiday destination and provides many interesting activities for tourists. The Gargano National Park consists of three main areas. Firstly, the Mount Gargano promontory, from where the park takes its name. The highest mountain in the area is Monte Calvo at just over 1,000 metres.
There are stretches of sandy beaches interspersed with areas of rocky coastline, home to more than 600 sea caves, and rocks that have been sculpted into fascinating shapes by the wind and sea.
Photo: Vanda Biffani
The second area is the 'Foresta Umbra', covering about one third of the whole area of the park. This is a dense, prehistoric forest, one of the last remaining areas of forest that once covered most of Europe.
Needless to say, the whole area is a haven for many kinds of flora and fauna and features over 60 species of Orchids, the highest concentration of anywhere in Europe.
The heart of the forest is totally protected and completely closed to visitors. The middle area is open to visitors under strict conditions and the outer area is open to all, including cars. Surrounding the forest, and still within the National Park, are many fascinating towns and villages such as the famous San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio for many years. Other tourist sites include castles at Monte Sant’Angelo and Manfredonia as well as the coastal towns at Peschici and Vieste.
The third area of the National Park consists of the Tremiti Islands. The archipelago consists of five small islands: San Dòmino, San Nicola, Cretaccio, Capraia and Pianosa which lies away from the main group.