If Italy is the boot of the world, then the Gargano is the spur on the heel of the boot of the world. The historical sub-region is fast being rediscovered as one of Europe’s hidden gems and, with most of the 1,200m2 region forming the Gargano National Park, it has been largely untouched over the centuries.
The area is the last stronghold of the ancient forest, Forest Umbra, which once covered most of central Europe. It is a geological and archaeological hotspot – as sea levels have risen and fallen over the aeons, the Gargano has flipped between being an island and part of the continent. It developed a range of unique endemic animals, including giant hedgehogs and a bizarre mix of deer and sabre-tooth tiger. They are now, unfortunately, extinct.
Being a generally undiscovered national park, tourism options don’t exactly abound in the Gargano, with large swathes uninhabited. But isn’t that the charm?