A LANDSCAPE WALK
The etymon of the word quest is ‘journey looking into the origin’.
This is the mood of this walk and also what, this itinerary is all about.
More than a 100 kilometers route to get to know closely what we call ‘walking the landscape’: the encounter of itineraries that narrate tales of hidden corners and trace the history of the Daunia Rurale (Rural Daunia).
This is a journey that goes beyond the traditional visual interpretation of people and places that often interferes with the idea of a beginning and an end, on the contrary this is more like the nomad voyage of the individual, the journey of the traveler that travels the roads of the world. Crossings, direction changes, findings, small villages, quiet, moving communities. It is trail that you can begin half way through, by Torremaggiore-San Severo turning point roaming across Valle del Fortore all the way to Serracapriola, a gorgeous Borgo surrounded by lovely gentle hills.
Stepping into Serracapriola is like being instantly thrown far back in time. Here you can let your mind stray a bit as you are walking on the tiny pebble stone approach of old middle ages passages fused with the fragrance of home cooked dishes coming from the windows. You will be so enticed entice that you to will want to proceed further even more until you will reach the XI c Castle. This castle has an octagonal tower and two cylindrical ones. From here, you could visualize the trench, the drawbridge and the original walls of the old city.
Follow along towards the sea, cutting through the monocultures and so reach Bosco Ramitelli located by the humid mouth of the river Fortore by the dunes border. More intricate passages and small routes will slow down your pace, you will feel the need to stop and look towards the intensity of the landscapes around you. Tales, nature, culture embrace you, surpass you and roam along with you until reaching the protected area of the Abbazia Santa Maria di Ripalta cropping up off a gentle hill between the right banks of the river Fortore and the Lake of Lesina shores. It feels like history whispers through the gentle winds caressing the grassy views of these surroundings.
The Abbey, this imposing cathedral was built in 1201 by the will of the Cistercian monks originally from Casanova d’Abruzzo. They built this cathedral over Roman and Middle Age ruins while showing signs of clear Cistercian interpretation of architecture more linked therefore to the Federician period.
It is here that in 1255 Bernardo, abbot of Clairvaux, in deep disagreement with the luxurious life of the Churches, founded an exemplary city, a city where the monks could farm, pray, write manuscripts and make music. Following the numerous restorations through times, the main architectural structure of it is compromised but not the main sacred effigy of Santa Maria di Ripalta strongly worshiped by the locals up to nowadays. Leave the Abbey behind to continue walking towards Lesina along the one thousand steps marked by the water, main element of these surroundings for the life of the small urban complexes, the agricultural economies, the stories of the fishermen. Think about the sea that comes to the earth and from it departs quickly to go back on its journey. The journey of the traveler, the travel of the nomadic spirit that drives you amongst the Gente di Terra leading you to all the way to Poggio Imperiale the place of ‘visionary literary’ landscapes. Here the game and history have stopped waiting for you to move as slowly as a chess piece. This is something you can feel especially vivid in the first few days of August when walking across the new square, or Teatro Palio di Dama. It is right here that the day before the competition the ‘pedine’ (pawns) and the ‘dame’ (dames) parade all around the city centre fully dressed in the official costumes representing the participating villages accompanied by the sound of drums and colorful flag throwers all along. It is a bit like a propitiatory dance prior to the fight, prior to the moment when the ‘pedine’ and the ‘dame’ will come alive, fight and play their game on the chessboard pavement of the square. This whole atmosphere and especially the beauty of the presence of a living dame brings back memories of Middle Age times where colors, sounds, flag throwers, everything recalls the past of the Casale of Poggio Imperiale built in 1759 by the will of the prince Placido Imperiale who decided to create a special mansion comprehending of a baron residence, the Palazzina and various other small settlement for the foreigners.
It is in these landscapes, in this itinerary that takes you all around the Daunia Reale that you will pass through the excavation of Apricena. A short stop to appreciate the powerful stones that produced ‘citta’ del marmo’ (city of marble) being this location, the second biggest point of excavation in Italy.
You could reach this point also via the Cammino del Vento, ‘windy way’ a 20 kilometers long stretch that connects Poggio Imperiale to Apricena with winds so strong you will not be able to keep a pace. You will have to slow down as there are no hills or mountain shelters but, as much as you might feel you are vulnerable to all atmospheric forces you will also feel relieved spotting in the distance the modern wind turbines now become such an integral part of this slice of Puglia land and views. The feeling of savoring the impression of being a literary hero, a Don Quixote as per the traits given by the pen of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, especially while roaming Cammino del Vento which runs through woodlands tunnels, farmed fields and grazing pastures.
It is an itinerary rich with tales, memories of scents and evocative seductions. After visiting the excavation of Apricena continue towards Bosco Jancuglia del Monte Castello following up to Regio Braccio on the pathway Nunziatella Stignano, following along for the civilization track which is part of the transhumance trail that from the city of L’Aquila was used to take the cattle up to the city of Foggia during the winter colds. At the end of this junction point, it will be time for you to choose your final route to San Severo, which is located in the middle of its Mosaic to then, after that, end this so to speak cyclical journey.