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Gargano National Park, it is known not so much as a park but it is known a lot, in Italy, and abroad, especially as a holiday or preaching place for Padre Pio. And then because in its territory we find those holiday atmospheres that we dream of reaching in summer all year round: those of Peschici, Vieste and the Tremiti Islands.
The Gargano National Park it is caressed by one of the most beautiful and clear seas in Italy and covered by dense and extensive forests, in part, or by the Mediterranean scrub. It knows how to amaze us with large karst plateaus and steep cliffs overlooking the sea, with caves and hills and lagoons. And then there are the Swamps of Frederick II.
Gargano National Park: what to see
In Gargano National Park there is an embarrassment of choice, many go to the more marine areas, with coastal forests of pines and oaks and crops of almond, orange and olive trees, but also high limestone cliffs that hide coves of fine sand. Yet, a good nature-loving visitor delves into the Umbra Forest and is rewarded.
Here is the kingdom of beech and pine trees and is the heart of the Gargano National Park, which boasts the richest vegetation in southern Italy, dotted with charming villages with winding alleys and white houses: Vieste, San Menaio, Peschici, Mattinata.
In order not to be undecided, here are some itinerary titles that you can learn more on the official website of Gargano National Park or on site. There is the one from Rignano to Grotta Paglicci, another that follows in the footsteps of "La masseria, caciocavallo and ... trabucco by bike". We can go in search of the "green gold of the Gargano" or explore the area between Manfredonia and Monte Sant'Angelo. Or between Monte Sant’Angelo and the Talking Wood.
An itinerary that attracts me a lot is the one that takes me to historic centers, between festivals and celebrations, or there are those dedicated to Forest barracks and to the panoramic points. A suggestive excursion is the one towards Grotta degli Dei and Baia di Manaccora (Peschici), an unmissable destination is Monte S.Angelo together with Pulsano Sanctuary and other hermitages.
Gargano National Park: flora
The Gargano National Park can be considered a biological island: most of its territory was isolated for a very long prehistoric period and that is why we still find precious endemics today, including: the very rare Dalla porta widow (Scabiosa dallaportae), the bellflower of Gargano (Campanula garganica), the Cistus of Clusio (Cistus clusii) and the icicle grass (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum).
Another consequence of the past isolation is the abnormal growth of some plant species: here is the carob tree of 13 meters in circumference, in park of Pugnochiuso in Vieste, and the holm oak, 17 meters high, with a diameter of 5 meters, at the convent of the Capuchins in Vico del Gargano. In general the flora of the Gargano National Park it is very varied and has 2,200 botanical species: about 35% of the national flora. On the Gargano promontory, thanks to the particular microclimate, we find beech and pine forests Aleppo pine and oak woods where oaks and holm oaks abound.
There are also mixed woods of ornellos, ash trees, elms, hollies, chestnuts, maples, oaks, beeches, etc. The undergrowth is populated by ferns, dog roses, cyclamen and mushrooms while on the slopes in the sun hawthorns grow surrounded by bushes of, juniper, thyme, prickly pears and the particular "devil's tree" (carob). In the aforementioned swamps of Frederick II we find glasswort, rushes, tamarisks on the coast the pine forests of Aleppo pine on approximately 7,000 hectares of land.
Gargano National Park: fauna
With all its most diverse habitats the Gargano National Park it enjoys an equally vast diversity of fauna. Let's start with the birds: about 170 species of birds nest in the Gargano (out of 237 nesting in Italy), and then 5 species of woodpeckers live in the inner forests: green, greater red, lesser, mizzen and white back. On the "Mountain of the Sun"We can meet the buzzard, the kestrel, the peregrine falcon, the sparrow hawk and the marsh harrier and, during the migratory period, also osprey and lesser spotted eagles.
Among the nocturnal birds of prey, on the other hand, I remember the eagle owl, the barn owl, the tawny owl and the scops owl, in the wetlands among the 46 species that nest there are the purple heron and the squacco heron, the moorhen and the great grebe. Thanks to specific conservation projects funded by the European Union, the Gargano National Park it holds the last pairs of the lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus).
Turning to mammals, among the best known and most likeable there is the Italian roe deer (Capreolus capreolus italicus) together with the more common other similar ones including fallow deer, weasels, moles, badgers, porcupines and squirrels. The good news that the Gargano National Park brings us is the return after a long absence of Apennine wolf, another animal, however reptile, that I am pleased to be able to mention, the marsh turtle.
Gargano National Park Authority
L'Gargano National Park Authority it was established with an instituting decree on 5 June 1995 and covers an area of 121,118 hectares, 18 municipalities, but above all it is considered one of the richest areas in different habitats and biodiversity. This is due to its morphological conformation and its history: when the Apennines began to emerge hundreds of millions of years ago, the Gargano was just an island and this has made it forever a green heart dotted with coastal lakes and greeted by a necklace of islands opposite, while behind it is a stone desert. There is also a bit of mountain but it only reaches 1,065 meters with Monte Calvo.
Gargano National Park: map
In order not to get lost in these 121,118 hectares, here is a useful map.
Gargano National Park: protected marine area
The Gargano National Park the sea is also beautiful, and not only for the beaches on which to relax. We can indulge in it, but without losing the opportunity to visit the natural marine wonders. The Tremiti they are in fact a true treasure trove of biodiversity and naturalistic beauty, as well as being important and legendary, known as "Diomedee Islands" for a curious story that I invite you to search and read. Maybe on the beach, while you relax.
L’Archipelago of the Tremiti Islands it is located about 12 miles north of the Gargano promontory. It consists of three major islands: S. Domino, S. Nicola and Caprara, an islet located between the three islands called Cretaccio and a minor island: Pianosa. In the first two islands there are also “built”, historical and rich landscapes architectural interest, in the other islands there is above all nature, but of rare beauty, in the pristine seabed.
Why it continues to be so in 1989 was established, with D.I. of 14.07.1989 the "Tremiti Islands Marine Nature Reserve ".The management of the Reserve, with the establishment of the Gargano National Park which took place in 1991, it passed toGargano National Park Authority.
Gargano National Park: Monte Sant’Angelo
Monte Sant’Angelo is one of the most famous places in Gargano National Park, with the Monastery of Santa Maria di Pulsano about 8 km to the south-west from which you can admire a wide view over the Gulf of Manfredonia and the Bari coast, sometimes harsh due to the presence of rock.
The Monastery was built on more ancient religious settlements, probably a pagan temple dedicated toCalcante oracle, around the monks also created cells clinging to the rugged walls of the valley, in that of the swallow he stopped in meditation also St. Francis of Assisi. After a long period of abandonment, in December 1997 a monastic community settled in the monastery which is based inarchdiocese of Manfredonia and is Latin and Byzantine biritual.
The feast of the Madonna of Pulsano we celebrate every September 8 and the most faithful start from Monte Sant’Angelo and reach the abbey on the backs of mules.
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