The weekend in the lands of Gargano starts exactly from Foggia, the third largest city in Puglia, as well as an important agricultural and commercial centre. Just outside the city, there are the vast cultivated stretches that run to the Gargano hills: tomatoes, wheat and beetroots, then olive groves and vineyards, from which olive oils and wines are produced.
The Garganic highway 89 drives us to Vieste, the first stop of the weekend. It is the first among the immense cultivated lands of the Apulian plain, then among the heights of the southern slope between Mattinata and Vieste, and it is one of the most renowned seaside resorts in the whole Adriatic coast.
The peculiar inhabited nucleus lies on a small rocky island characterized by its three bays.
Do not miss a visit to the old town called "Vieste Vecchia", a compact city centre situated on a rock overlooking the sea, that extends from the Castle Beach to the so called "Small Marina" beach, crossing the Tip of San Francesco.
Its irregular alleys, the beautiful squares with the facades of the sea, and the terraced houses united to the alleys by the suggestive arcades, is what makes the village particularly picturesque. Then the many staircases, palaces and churches. Particularly impressive is the Ripa district, an ancient gateway to the city, while among the most fascinating streets there is via Judeca, which proves the ancient presence of Jews.
Svevo Castle and Cathedral represents two main architectural treasures. The first one lies on the edge of the old town on a cliff overlooking the sea above the beautiful Scialara beach. Built by Frederick II in 1242, it was subjected to several attacks by the Saracens in the sixteenth century. The Cathedral is one of the greatest Romanesque expressions of Apulia, while the bell tower is a beautiful example of the Baroque architecture.
Its beautiful historic centre, its architecture, its bays, but also its cuisine are the aspects that make Vieste so unique. You can’t forget to try its specialties like stuffed cuttlefish and local fish soup.
Then the famous bruschette, a plate of classic orecchiette with tomato and cacioricotta cheese, and a taste of stuffed aubergines and peppers.
Vico del Gargano is the second destination of the weekend in northern Puglia. Again, the highway 89 brings us to Peschici, another marvellous village in the area, driving along the Garganic hinterland.
In the heart of the Gargano National Park, which is located in the picturesque Rione Civita centre, where the staircases carved into the rock alternate the carved portals, arches and capitals, and all together make a stone triumph. This centre of the Gargano hinterland is a continuous surprise: it enchants in its medieval neighborhoods Casale and Terra. In addition to the beauty of the village, Vico also offers interesting hiking trails. Not to be missed is the Foresta Umbra nature reserve, a protected natural area of the Gargano National Park, rich in beech, hornbeam, oak and tilias and varied fauna, among others, badgers, wild cats, foxes, deers, weasels, boars, roe deers and woodpeckers.
The highway guide us back. We leave the Gargano to return to the Tavoliere delle Puglie. Before Foggia there is San Severo, a large centre of Alto Tavoliere, land of ancient wine traditions Here is complusery to stop and buy a bottle of its homonymous white wine DOC.