The whole area has been protected by the National Gargano Park since 1991, which, with its 120 thousand hectares and 12 different ecosystems, is the largest in Italy and that with the greatest level of biodiversity in Europe.
There are no just almost 150 kilometres of uninterrupted bays, beaches and inlets, but also the impenetrable Umbra Forest.
The mystical, mediaeval towns of San Giovanni Rotondo and Monte Sant'Angelo and a long series of evidence and Roman sites, the Daunii (the area's inhabitants in the 1st millennium BC), Suebi and Normans.
And thus, at the table does not only present the flavours of the sea, with prize-winning oils and wines, but also cheese and cured meats from the mountainsides and fruits and vegetables from a world that is both coastal and farming.
A green lung facing out over the sea, the perfumes of the Umbra Forest and the horizon of the sea... this is the Gargano!
FAUNA AND FLORA
The Gargano National Park extends for approximately 121,118 hectares, within which we find a series of one-of-a-kind habitats. You are unlikely to find anywhere else along the Mediterranean shores that are able to enclose such great biodiversity in such a small area, as we are here looking at a little micro-cosmos, a real biological island.
This diversity of landscapes and flora corresponds, perhaps to a greater extent, to a diversity of fauna. A total of 170 species of birds out of 237 nesting throughout Italy, nest in the park's territory. Nesting birds of prey include the buzzard, kestrel, sparrow hawk and the peregrine falcon.
Along the coastlines and in the ancient parts of the towns of the Gargano, the skies are marked by the flights of swifts, rare red-rumped swallows, house martins, sand martins, pallid swifts and Alpine swifts. Colonies of bats (common noctules and horseshoes) live in the many caves.
Mammals include the roe deer, an endemic subspecies that is exclusive in the park, as well as wild boar, deer, weasels, martens, wildcats, a magnificent feline predator that lives in the thick woods of the Umbra Forest, hares, hedgehogs, moles, badgers, foxes, dormice, hazel dormice and different species of mice and voles.
The flora is very varied and unique with more than 2,200 botanical species accounting for approximately 35% of all national flora. In the oak forests, turkey oaks and holm oaks abound, and mixed woods are filled with manna ash, ash, elm, holly, chestnut, maple, oak, beech, etc.
In all these areas, we can easily find examples of macrosomia, namely the abnormal growth of plant species, thereby meeting examples of Aleppo pines, beech, holm oak and yew that are simply enormous.
We would recall the 13-metre circumference carob tree in the park of Pugnochiuso, in the municipality of Vieste.
FOOD AND WINE
Apulia's gastronomic choices feature extra-virgin olive oil, bread, cheese, fresh fish and vegetables, masterfully combined in typical dishes such as orecchiette pasta and fish chowder.
The extra-virgin olive oil in Apulia is light, fruity and slightly spicy; cheeses include the canestrato, burrata and caciocavallo, whilst cured meats include the soppressata and capocollo.
The various types of fish and shellfish include mussels, squid, octopus and sea urchin. Typical dishes, apart from the ultra-famous Apulia-style orecchiette and classic fish chowder include arracanate anchovies, chop alla garganica, cardoons and orange and lemon salads.
The Gargano also offers a wide range of DOC wines, including the "Orta Nova" and the "Moscato di Trani".
The "Cotup" is the consortium of tourist operators of Apulia. Established in 1969, it today brings more than 300 of the most representative businesses of the regional tourism industry together. The main aim of the consortium is to promote tourism within the territory.
COTUP is a consortium aimed at promoting the interests not only of the consortium members but of the region's entire tourism segment.
An in-depth knowledge of the tourism problems in Apulia, attention to market trends - nationally and internationally - and the synergy established with the institutions, all make COTUP an authoritative point of reference for the sector, able to compare notes with and achieve ambitious objectives relating to:
- promotion of tourism in Apulia, in all aspects;
- strengthening relations with the most important international tour operators;
- increasing direct flows of tourists in Apulia, from Italy and abroad;
- de-seasonalising tourism;
- encouraging local business actors to develop a welcoming culture focused on quality and professionalism;
- support of operator requests;
- optimisation of business operating costs;
- collaboration with public and private entities to solve problems concerning tourism and to implement a broad-reaching promotional strategy.