#20 / The “spur of Italy”

#20 / The “spur of Italy” - Marco Moreo Milano

As we continue to wander around Italy, we’re traveling up the Adriatic coast. Today we’re touring the Gargano area and visiting Vieste. Ready? Let’s go!

If you look at a map of Italy, you'll see that it is shaped like a boot and that just before the “heel” there is a projection from the coastline. This area is called Gargàno and is effectively the “spur of Italy”. I’ve written it with an accent because one of the hardest things about my language (even for Italians) is guessing how to pronounce names. So remember to say Gargàno, not Gàrgano, otherwise no one will understand you. ;)

This (beautiful) promontory offers very different landscapes: sheer cliffs, clear sandy beaches, forested hinterland, lakes. As I am a nature lover, I’m going to stop off in the Gargano National Park (remember the accent!) with its beautiful Foresta Umbra: the name apparently derives from ombra, the Italian for “shade”, nothing to do with Umbria, the region of Assisi, Gubbio, Perugia. A real green lung, with century-old trees, the park allows me to stop and enjoy the silence and absolute peace. I can breathe deeply and enjoy the beautiful coolness – we’re 800 meters above sea level here. So peaceful...

The temperature up here is completely different to what it was earlier, on the beach in Vignanotica, where I enjoyed a delightful swim in a corner of paradise nestled among the rocks. It’s an ideal place to be in the morning, before the sun disappears behind the high and almost blindingly white cliff face. The cool and beautifully turquoise water, the vegetation on the rocks, the clear sky: all shades of blue and green fill my eyes with the joy of the sea. Ah, summer!

Well, after enjoying the sea and the woods, the time has come to stretch or legs with a stroll around town. Here we are in Vieste, at the easternmost point of the Gargano. This spectacular town is as immaculate as the cliff on which it is built and stretches out to infinity at Punta San Francesco: it feels like you’re on the bow of a ship ready to set sail.  

Ambling along the narrow streets, stopping off in the squares and admiring the landscape from the viewpoints, I spot a trattoria that seems to be waiting for me... What to order? Easy! A lovely dish of Tròccoli (the accent…), a kind of handmade pasta, like thick spaghetti seasoned with tomato sauce. What a name, huh? It comes from the troccolaturo, a kind of grooved rolling pin used to fashion these long strips of pasta. WOW, what an art. Yummy!

See you in a fortnight!