Food Of The Gargano Peninsula, Puglia

Gargano food

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As any traveller knows, you can always eat well in Italy. The Gargano Peninsula in Puglia is no exception, but it has some added advantages. The fields, hills and coastline of the Gargano National Park, and the surrounding Puglian countryside, are responsible for the production of much of Italy’s food, meaning that everything is made with fresh local ingredients. And the coastal area is famous for its seafood.

Food Production In Puglia

Travelling towards the Gargano Peninsula through the Puglia countryside you will pass vast fields of wheat. These date back to Mussolini’s “Battle for Wheat” after the First World War, when he aimed to make Italy self sufficient for food. Today Puglia continues to supply the country with wheat and flour products, and 80% of Italy’s pasta is produced here.

The Gargano Peninsula itself is too hilly for wheat growing but it is still important for food production. The area is covered with olive groves, grape vines and citrus orchards, and wherever you go you will see roadside stalls selling local produce.

Olive trees
The Gargano Peninsula is covered with olive groves

The region produces 50% of Italy’s olive oil. The hill town of Carpino has been dubbed “Oil City” on account of the quality of its extra virgin olive oil. And in Vico del Gargano you can visit the Trappeto Maratea, an oil museum housed in an underground mill dating back to the 14th century.

Seafood Of The Gargano Peninsula

Gargano is just as important for its seafood as for its fruit and olives. Fishing tends to be done in the traditional way, by small scale enterprises. Much of it is done in the coastal lagoons of Varano and Lesina. As you travel around look out for the wooden fishing machines, or trabucchi: an ancient fishing practice that is still in use today.

Fisherman on a boat sorting through a haul of mussels
A fisherman sorts through the haul of mussels

The main attraction of the area is its mussels and clams. But any restaurant will also serve you a meal of freshly caught fish, squid or cuttlefish. Or you can try the fish soup (ciambotto) that is a speciality of the region.

Oblong plate with slices of tuna carpaccio
A simple dish of tuna carpaccio

The Cucina Povera Of The Gargano Region

Locally produced meats include lamb and goat, and herbs grow wild on the hillsides. Because Puglia is a wheat growing region pasta is a staple, often made in the local fashion, without egg. And, like all Italian regions, Gargano has its own wines, cheeses and dried meats which you can find in the markets and grocery shops.

Cheeses, meats and antipasti
Pinnable image of food of the Gargano Peninsula

But the Gargano Peninsula best known for its cucina povera (peasant cooking). As the name implies, this is simple food, recalling the days when people had to make do with whatever was available. But it was made exceptional by the freshness of the ingredients; there is no need for rich food when you have produce of this quality.

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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