Hope you’re enjoying our Gargano week! It’s far from over… after telling you about awesome Monte Sant’Angelo and our day learning about organic farming, we would like to introduce you to beautiful Vico del Gargano, one of the most beautiful hilltop villages we’ve ever seen.
Where is Vico del Gargano?
Have you heard of Gargano? It may well be one of Italy’s least-known places; right at the top of Apulia, Gargano is the round peninsula reminiscent of a spur. Vico del Gargano is one of the prettiest villages that can be found in the area; a place of twisty, narrow roads and silver houses, tightly packed on top of a hill. From afar, the village itself is a spellbinding sight.
The nature around Vico is simply stunning; the village is sandwiched between the forested hills of the Gargano National Park and the rocky coast, with lots of sea caves. So, whether you’re a rock-climber, a hiker or a beach bum, you’ll be sure to find some activity of your liking around Vico del Gargano.
What is there to see in Vico del Gargano?
The village itself is not just a base for an activity-filled holiday in the surrounding nature. It is worth exploring for a day or two. Vico del Gargano was defined by a leading Canadian newspaper as ‘one of the last corners of unspoiled Italy’.
You won’t find tacky souvenir shops and overpriced grocery stores selling ‘local’ specialties for tourists. When I asked for taralli (ring-shaped biscuits), a local snack, I wasn’t given a neat little package – the seller shovelled them out of a 10 kg plastic bag. You’ll find older men sitting on plastic chairs at the roadside or playing cards, and farmers descend every day to the local market with their freshest produce.
Here are some Vico del Gargano sights:
1) Chiesa di Santa Maria La Pura
A tiny church just outside of the city walls, built near a stream. When we visited, no one else was there, save a lone caretaker. The church was in semi-darkness. You could barely see a fountain below, hidden by the leafy treetops. It was a magical, mysterious place; I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but there was definitely something. The name ‘pura’, meaning ‘pure’, is in reference to the ancient custom of burying children and virgins in the grounds.
2) The stunning view over Vico
Our host Pino recommended this spot, and let me tell you, it was amazing. Directions are simple; walk out of town following directions for ‘Ischitella’ for a couple of kilometers until you find a sign marked ‘PKK’, and – as Pino put it – you’ll see the marvel. What do you think?
3) Museo Trappeto Maratea
We didn’t actually get to visit this, as it was closed for renovation. Gargano is famed for its delicious olive oil, and this museum is an ancient olive press and a café-restaurant.
4) Vicolo del Bacio
Did you know Vico del Gargano is also known as the ‘city of love’? The patron saint is none other than St Valentine, and one of the village’s main sights is Vicolo del Bacio, or Kiss Alleyway, a tiny alley no wider than 50 cm. Why ‘kiss’? Because it’s so narrow that lovers can’t help but touching one another as they go through it, and then…
5) World War II Caves
This is an apocryphal sight, recommended to us by Turino, a big-eared elderly man who spoke a dialect so thick I could barely understand him. A couple of switchbacks up from Santa Maria la Pura, behind a gate and mountains of junk, there are some tunnels cut into the karstic rock. These tunnels joined bigger caves into the mountains, where locals used to hide during World War II.
The best thing about Vico is getting lost, wandering around the tiny cobbled streets past rows of washing, dozing cats and children chasing a football. Just walk around, following your instinct; I can promise you’ll stumble onto some great finds.
What is there to eat?
Vico del Gargano is also the home of the paposcia, a once-humble peasant dish that rivals pizza in popularity. Paposcia is a hollow rugby-ball shaped roll made of pizza dough that is split open and eaten stuffed with cheese, cured meats, sausages or veggies.
It has its origins in the old custom of baking giant loaves of bread. To check that the oven temperature was right, people used to place a small amount of dough into the oven. If it inflated like a balloon, the oven was good to go.
Pretty much every bakery and pizzeria offers paposce. We loved the ‘salsiccia and salicornia‘ filling, local sausage with samphire. An old man boasted that salicornia has medicinal properties; if I ate it every day for a month, I would have ‘radiant skin and no more tummy’. We’ll see.
Where to stay in Vico del Gargano?
Where? Pizzicato, of course!
How to get there?
This is really strange coming from me, a hard-core public transport aficionado. The best way to travel to Vico del Gargano is by car. There are buses and trains in neighbouring Peschici, but without a car you’d be pretty much stuck. Not that it’s a bad thing, but what if I told you that you’d be missing cave churches, rocky coves and ancient forests?
Linked to Sunday Traveler
49 thoughts on “Wandering Vico del Gargano”
What a fun post! Great photos and I will definitely have to try paposcia now! Thank you for such a wonderful Sunday Traveler! – Heather, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife
Thanks Heather. Paposcia is so tasty, it was a great find for me too!
Happy #SundayTraveler! Thanks for linking up with us. I am now dreaming about try paposcia… thanks!
Glad you liked it SJ! Paposcia is delicious!
I love all the little alley ways. I must say that I dont think I have heard of this place before now. Looks very interesting.
Thanks Bianca! Glad you liked it!
Very cool, look forward to taking some nice walks in the town and around the coastal areas, sounds wonderful
You’re right, I’ve never heard of this place but it looks amazing! I’d love to visit this place. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!
Cool! Hopefully we can see this beautiful place this year 🙂
I hope you do Ivana! thanks for your comment!
Great shots! Thanks for taking me on this lovely journey to Vico del Gargano. From the photos it reminds me of a mixture of Croatia and Greece! Mmm… that Paposcia sounds absolutely mouthwatering, too!
Thanks Alli! You’re right, it does look like that!
Looks like a lovely hilltop village. Our favorites so far have been in southern France but we have yet to explore much of Italy so looking forward to seeing ones like this!
Thanks Jessica! Hope you do make it to this area!
I definitely want to try some paposcia. 🙂 Looks like a very nice place. Like you I’m a big fan of public transport. So much so, that I don’t have –nor will I ever again have– a car. The downside of course is getting to these kinds of places.
Thanks Bob! Totally agree with you about the car. We don’t have one either, and just borrow or rent one when we need to.
Great post, I love reading posts like this, gives me so much inspiration to head to places I haven’t been before! Especially ones where I can explore winding back streets.
Thanks Mike! Hope you do get to visit!
Looks like a charming place that I didn’t know existed. Would be happy to visit!
Glad you liked the post! Vico is lovely, you should definitely go!
I absolutely love that although Italy is one of the most visited countries in Europe it’s still possible to discover little gems like this hidden from the crowds. Love the narrow winding streets, your pictures are beautiful!
So true Calli! Thank you so much, glad you liked the post!
These photographs conjured in me a deep desire to spend time in the South of Italy. I REGRET booking my flight for norther Europe this summer.
I want to run through those streets, I want to give a kiss in the Vicolo del Bacio and I want delicious olive oil.
Why can’t every month be August?
Angie from reasons to dress, fashion, real mom street style & life as a North American mom in Italy.
You’re so right Angie! August should be all year round!
Somehow this is exactly how I imagine a typical Italian village. I’ve not been to Italy many times (mostly up north in de Dolomites or in cities) but from books, people’s stories and also my own imagination this would be a picture perfect one 🙂
Hey Anto! You’re so right, Vico is beautiful!
Very interesting post. I didn’t know anything about this place, so I’m very eager to check it out myself. Beautiful photos too.
Hey Anda! Glad you liked the post, thanks!
What a cute little place! I love discovering villages like Vico del Gargano. And did you mention cave churches and rocky coves?! Paposce sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Frank! You should visit, it’s really pretty!
Anyone should discover Vico and its beauties. There are also San Menaio and Calenella with beautiful beaches near the town. And don’t forget to ask someone what is the “mupia” (la mupia)!
Thanks Luca! I’m really curious now…
This village looks like it would make a great set for Game of Thrones. It seems untouched by the changes of time.
So true Brianna! maybe I should send an email to HBO?
Wonderfully rustic and unspoilt as promised. And you’re right, a car is really the way to explore rural Italy.
So true! Even though I’m not a big fan of cars, I must admit it was really convenient!
The village looks lovely I’ve been a few times in Italy but always in some big busy cities and never got the chance to explore the country side. Your post reminded me how beautiful Italy is and how I need to go back and see more
So true Elena! Glad you liked the post!
First time visiting your blog, stopping over via #SundayTraveler.
Gargano looks so interesting, it reminded me of our walk around Pisa, ha, little towns!
Thanks Diana! Glad you liked the post! Pisa is a metropolis compared to Vico, you should visit!
Love all the little alley ways. This village doesn’t look like Italy to me at all, but that just goes to show how diverse the country is.
Hey Adelina! Glad you liked the post! You’re right, Italy is very diverse!
I had never heard of Gargano prior to reading this post but I certainly have now and would love to explore this part of Italy whenever we head there in December this year! There are so many quaint little towns and villages scattered around Italy and it’s nice to read about these hidden gems rather than always the mainstream locations.
I hope you do get to visit Gargano Chris! So beautiful and unspoilt!
Italy is truly gorgeous!!! I love it!
So true Raphael!
Lovely blog, looking forward to see more posts from you!
Would you like to follow each other ?
thanks! Will definitely follow you too 🙂
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