Apulia is a region of southern Italy famous for its historic cities, the enchanting beaches and the great variety of landscapes.
It is difficult to make a complete list of all the wonders that are worth visiting. So, in this article we want suggest you just some of our favorite – but little known – natural attractions in Apulia.
The name may suggest that this forest is located in Umbria, the wildest Italia region. Actually, it is in the most pristine area of the Gargano.
The Gargano is a national park and a mountain massif that forms a promontory projected onto the Adriatic Sea. If Italy resembles a boot, well, the Gargano is its spur.
The Umbra Forest extends for thousands of hectares covered with beeches, oaks, maples and holm oaks. But what makes the Forest so special is the Old Beech Woods, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site since 2017.
Several paths cross the Umbra Forest. They are suitable for everyone and leads you to an enchanting word, in which wild animals hide between the secular trees and lovely landscapes look like movie sets. It is the ideal place for those who love hiking, trekking or mountain biking.
It is possible to reach the Umbra Forest through the SP52 Bis road. This road passes right through the forest, giving you a preview of what awaits you.
Spinazzola is a small town not far from Bari, yet in its surroundings there is one of the most intriguing natural attractions in Apulia. It is the Spinazzola bauxite quarry.
Until a few decades ago the quarry was still active, but now it is only a huge 50 meters deep hole in the ground.
The peculiarity of this place is in its conformation. The scarce vegetation and the red color of the rocks make it look like one of those canyons you see in the old western movies. Some visitors say it recalls the surface of Mars. In any case, it is an unusual landscape.
Inside the quarry it is possible to walk freely between the cliffs. If you can, stay until sunset when the sunlight enhances the reddish color of the rocks.
Another natural attraction in Apulia which recalls an alien landscape is the Margherita di Savoia salt pan, near Barletta.
This salt pan was already popular in Roman times and is still active. Indeed, it is among the largest in Italy – 4500 hectares in area. It is also a nature reserve in which numerous species of migratory birds stop.
The salt pan is open to visitors and is really worth a visit for many reason. First of all, it is perfect if you love birdwatching. Then, the high white salt dunes make you feel like you are on the Moon. While the pink shade of the water on the small salt beaches remind you of some Caribbean shore.
Isn’t it enough?
The Zinzulusa Cave is one of the most beautiful coastal caves in whole Italy.
It is located within the Otranto – S. Maria di Leuca Natural Park and it is about 200 meters deep.
The scenery inside the cave is quite surreal thanks to the many limestone formations. Indeed, the name Zinzulusa derives from the stalactites that resemble hanging rags, which the locals call zinzuli.
Stalactites and stalagmites are mostly found in the initial part of the cave, but further down there is a large cavity, up to 25 meters high, with smooth walls. Inside the cave there are also crystal clear lakes of both fresh and salt water.
Only the first 150 meters of the Zinzulusa Cave are open to the public. The other areas are not accessible, both because they are partially flooded but also to protect the remarkable internal biodiversity
As you can see, there are many natural attractions in Puglia. Most of them are within national parks or protected areas.
One of these park is the Alta Murgia National Park. This is the second largest protected area in Apulia after the Gargano National Park. Here you find ancient woods, wild animals and numerous paths for hiking or mountain biking.
Also in the Terra delle Gravine Regional Natural Park you find woods, wild animals and various paths. But what makes this park truly unique are the gravine, real canyons resulting from karst erosion that lasted thousands of years. In addition to their natural beauty, the canyons still house the remains of ancient villages carved directly into the rock.