Called the Gargano, this mountainous wooded promontory is the "spur" of Italy. The best time to come is autumn, when you can enjoy the colors of the Umbra Forest (Foresta Umbra), featuring maples, ashes, cedars, and chestnuts. There's a timeless quality here. You'll find pristine salt lakes at Lesina and Varano, where you can enjoy swimming and watersports in the mild climate and calm waters. The coast is a series of cliffs, rocks, caves, islets, and beaches. Vegetable gardens grow inland on a landscape dotted with flocks of sheep and goats. In addition to nature's wild and varied landscape, the promontory is rich in historical interest, boasting monuments that are Byzantine, Romanesque, Norman, and medieval.
It'll take a leisurely 7 hours to drive around the Gargano, staying on Route 89. We consider this sometimes-difficult route among the most scenic drives in Italy. In ancient times, the peninsula was an island, until the sediment from a river eventually formed a "bridge" linking it to the mainland. Train service is limited to a private spur along the northwestern coast. Travelers who want to fully explore the area by bus or car will use Manfredonia as the gateway.