Today I want to talk about a vacation I took last summer in Puglia, in the Gargano region. This is the first part of that vacation and the subject is the Gole of San Martino in Abruzzo. Before starting to talk about this, I would like to make a small preamble. When I was working at the university as a researcher, being able to manage my schedule as I liked, every now and then I would take a few days off and go on vacation. In particular, I had a very good relationship with two of my colleagues, a Moldavian guy, who is also the one who introduced me to Downhill, and a guy from Abruzzo. Obviously, after finishing my job at the university, our paths split a bit, in particular, my friend from Abruzzo found a job in Holland and now lives there and for this reason, we do not see each other very often. So last summer we decided to take a vacation together and in particular to meet in Puglia. My Moldavian friend and I left with my car and drove all along the Adriatic Coast of Italy, and after a brief stop in Gradara, a beautiful city near Rimini,
we headed towards Chieti, where we spent the night.
The next morning, after a nice breakfast
Since we had to wait for our friend who was arriving at Bari airport in the afternoon, as I said before, we decided to explore the famous Gole di Fara San Martino, a very suggestive place. As some of you know, especially those who have read my other posts, I have a particular passion for caves, since I practice speleology. In this case, however, the situation is slightly different because they are not caves that develop deep in the earth but are caves that have been carved by time inside the mountain itself where you can walk practically through the mountain.
The entrance to the caves is very impressive because the passage is very narrow and looking up you can hardly see the sky.
According to popular tradition, these picturesque gorges, just 2 m wide and about 30 m long, were opened by San Martino with the strength of his arms to allow the local population to access more quickly the high pastures of Majella. After a few meters of walking, you can see the monastery of San Martino in Valle that an archaeological excavation has recently brought to light. Actually, this remarkable scenery has been produced by the erosive and incessant action of the torrential waters coming from the melting of the surrounding snowfields during the Quaternary period, especially during the glaciations.
In addition, once out, the view that awaits us in front is truly remarkable.
Unfortunately, we happened to be in the area at a time when access was prohibited because there had been a landslide a few weeks earlier and therefore was no longer allowed to pass through the gorges, but obviously, this did not stop us and with a little "unconsciousness" we sneaked in anyway and we made a quick but very interesting visit. Personally, I love these kinds of places, especially when there are no tourists, in fact being able to enjoy a view and a place like this with a dead silence is an experience that does not happen every day. We are accustomed during our daily lives to an increasingly hectic pace, our work takes up most of our time and it has become increasingly difficult to be able to carve out some time for ourselves, also because in the evening we usually try to relax and rest because the next day we expect the work again. In addition, one thing that many people don't pay attention to, because it has become a normality, is the background noise that is in our lives, especially in big cities, that constant coming and going of cars, people, and animals that we now notice only when it is not present. I am a nature lover, and I think that nature it's one of the few places where we can truly rest our body and mind.
Near the very beginning of the path, there is a very old monastery (the San Martino in Valle that I mentioned before), which adds even more magic to the place.
The Monastery has been brought back to light by removing the debris that hid it, leaving to appear a spectacle of history, art, and faith. The environment is harsh and rocky and the bottleneck that characterizes the gorge of San Martino is very suggestive and exciting. At the exit, the walls suddenly open on the wide valley, which is however closed by imposing rock walls on both sides. The remains of the abbey show a gate to an inner courtyard bordered by a portico with three arches, on the north side of which is a bell gable. The interior of the church must have had three naves with a stone slab floor. A wall with three arches separates the nave from the northern one, from where you access to what must have been the initial core of the church, carved into the rock, which suggests the birth of the place of worship as a hermitage.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, the area was off-limits and so to avoid the risk of being arrested we didn't stay too long inside. We walked around for a few hours (which you can see summarized in the video at the beginning of the post) and then we decided to get out and go back to the car.
Places like this are truly amazing, and if it weren't for my friend, I honestly would have never even known it existed. Italy in my opinion is a truly magical country because in any place, even the most remote, you can find natural gems like this.
Before arriving to Bari's airport we also took a quick stop also in Termoli to see the beautiful sea.
The beginning of the vacation was very promising and waiting for us was the best part, the beaches, and caves of the Gargano. So don't miss the next post.