Also known as the Capitanata or Daunia, the province of Foggia marks the northern border of Apulia, near Molise and Campania.
The eastern part is occupied by the promontory of Gargano, the "spur of the boot" and the beautiful Tremiti Islands, a favourite destination for the many visitors who every year chose Apulia for their holidays.
The numerous locations along the Adriatic coast offer many opportunities for holiday and relaxation, for both beach lovers and those who enjoy taking excursions.
But the charm of the hinterland is in no way inferior to the beauty of the seascape.
The Tavoliere is the largest plain in the south of Italy, with its wide expanses of grainfields that shine in the summer sun and are interrupted only by the Dauni mountains, at intervals covered with green woods. This landscape is particularly charming, with colours, scents and sounds now partly forgotten.
A land rich in history, told by archaeological excavations that have uncovered the first signs of settlement, by imposing medieval castles and many religious buildings.
A homemade and genuine cuisine makes a trip to the province of Foggia even more pleasant.
Gargano and the Tremiti Islands are definitely the stars of the province of Foggia.
Crystal clear waters, caves, inlets, colourful gardens and lush vegetation are the distinguishing features of these masterpieces of nature. Among the many places to visit, Vieste is certainly the most famous.
Long stretches of sand with a characteristic colour, lapped by a beautiful sea, alternate with stretches of coastline interrupted by numerous marine cavities such as the Sfondata and the Grotta Smeralda (Emerald Cave).
The white small houses, the intense green of the Mediterranean bush and the blue of the sea are the colours that tinge the pretty Peschici, with beaches nestled in the rocky walls of the coast, ideal places to relax under the sun while being refreshed by a gentle sea breeze.
Under the Gargano, facing the homonymous gulf is located Manfredonia, characteristic medieval town with the Castle built by Manfred of Swabia and today home of the Museo Nazionale in which are exhibited finds from the Neolithic period.
The Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Lorenzo Maiorano Bishop of Siponto preserves valuable works of art: the icon and the wooden statue of Madonna di Siponto (Our Lady of Siponto), the wooden crucifix dating back to the 13th century, and Cristo alla colonna (Christ at the Column) (16th century).
Deserving a visit are also the Chiesa di San Benedetto in the heart of the old town, characterized by clean lines and adorned with pilasters, stucco reliefs and capitals, and finally, just outside Manfredonia, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. In the coastal strip, extending from the Gargano to the mouth of the Cervaro river is located the Archaeological Park of Siponto: in addition to ancient settlements dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, it shows the great development undergone in this area when the old Sipontum became a Roman colony.
The many places of worship and the many religious celebrations that take place throughout the year in Apulia, speak of the deep devotion that these people demonstrate since ancient times. And in the province of Foggia is located San Giovanni Rotondo, with the Santa Maria delle Grazie complex where the remains of Padre Pio are kept, and the new church dedicated to the Saint designed by the great architect Renzo Piano.
Along the line of the route known as Via Sacra dei Longobardi (Sacred Road of the Lombards), rises Monte Sant'Angelo with a fantastic view over the Gulf of Manfredonia and the Tavoliere. Here, in one of the many caves scattered in the limestone of the Gargano promontory, is located the altar of S. Michele Arcangelo later included in the homonymous Basilica, a place of pilgrimage today as it was in ancient times.
Futher into the plain of the Tavoliere there is Lucera, an ancient village built on a Neolithic settlement and the scene of important historical events. Lucera experienced a great cultural and urban development during the Roman period when the great Amphitheater was built. Two great doorways, adorned with Ionic columns mark the entrance to the arena, crossed by a tunnel and three underground rooms used for housing animals and the tools used during games and public spectacles.
Testimony to the Swabian-Angevin period is the fortress that dominates the whole town. Built by Frederick II where the ancient Roman acropolis was, it was later enhanced by Charles I of Anjou with the construction of a 900 metre wall, with 22 watchtowers and a deep moat dug around the perimeter.
Overlooking the beautiful Piazza Duomo is the Angevin Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria dell’Assunta, patron saint of the town. The external façade has an asymmetrical structure and three access portals. The interior, divided into three naves, contains interesting works of art.
A journey through the history of Lucera, from prehistoric to medieval times, is offered by the Civic Museum named after Giuseppe Fiorelli, famous Italian archaeologist, and housed in the eighteenth century Palazzo de Nicastri-Cavalli in the old town. And at the centre of the Tavoliere there is Foggia, capital of Capitanata.
The beauty of the sea and the richness of the seabed of the Gargano and Tremiti Islands offer the opportunity to practice all forms of water sports.
Sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing and canoeing to explore every corner of this earthly paradise, and diving for those who, expert or amateur, like plunging into the deep blue of the sea and swim among the lush and colourful vegetation of the seabed and the different species of fish that populate, undisturbed, the marine reserve of the Tremiti Islands.
To see the inland landscape a mountain bike or horseback ride is recommended along the old cattle tracks crossing the Daunia. Clean air, unspoiled nature and strong scents are good companions for those who prefer trekking or an ecological two-wheel.
The Park of Gargano is a paradise for those who love bird-watching, both in winter and summer. Stilts, avocets, little terns, rosy gulls, ferruginous, night herons, egrets are just some of the many species that can be spotted walking in the green land of this natural jewel.
Moreover, if the time is right, do not miss the famous Carnevale Dauno di Manfredonia (Dauno Carnival of Manfredonia), now in its 57th edition, a great colourful party with a rich parade of floats and masked groups of participants.
Bread is one of the many delicacies of the Apulian cuisine.
And in the land of the Tavoliere, where the yellow corn gives colour to the entire landscape, there will never be a lack of recipes accompanied by a tasty bruschetta or a slice of stale bread topped with tomatoes and raw onions and drizzled with the excellent local olive oil. In some old trattorias one can still enjoy the pancotto, a simple but very tasty peasant dish recipe. And in a land where the making of bread is considered an art, certainly there is pizza and focaccia, prepared with the same care and enriched with juicy tomatoes, sweet onions and fresh anchovies.
The first courses include the traditional home-made pasta, like the classic orecchiette, along with tempting soups like maritata and minestrone, a triumph of flavours thanks to the freshness and quality of wild herbs and vegetables.
Lamb meat, tender and delicate, is used as a condiment for pasta dishes or to prepare typical main courses using all parts of the animal.
The sea gives the raw material for sumptuous fish soups, grills and recipes with blue fish. An excellent lobster sauce is used as condiment for pasta dishes and, for those who love "raw" food, the intense flavour of oysters of Gargano is not to be missed.
Rich is also the production of cheeses that includes, among the typical products, the canestrato, ripened into "fiscelle" (wicker baskets); pecorino (sheep milk cheese), great to eat with a slice of Pugliese bread or to season pasta dishes; and Mattinata cheeses, from a small peasant village surrounded by unspoiled nature, where the dairy production respects ancient traditions.
Rich and savoury dishes enhanced by the intense flavour of famous oil from Puglia, that here is labeled Dauno DOP. Sweet and fruity is the one produced in Mattinata, land of the ogliarola olive of the Gargano.
Finally, a glass of wine of San Severo, Orta Nova, Daunia or Cacc'e Mmitte of Lucera to complete the sumptuous meal provided by the Capitanata.
Source:Minister for Regional Affairs-Sport & Tourism.