👣 20km on foot – Tuesday 5th of October
Today the group from Stignano to San Giovanni Rotondo was rather large: there were various groups of walkers and trekkers with us. Among them, there were some members of the ‘Senza Cemento’ group, of Portamilsuso San Giovanni Rotondo, the barefoot walkers from San Giovanni Rotondo, the Nordic walking group from San Giovanni Rotondo, Gargauni Walkers, some members of the Red Cross, and Domenico, environmental tour guide….in total there were around 70 of us, and it was fantastic to walk with so many enthusiastic people! The day started off with a bit of rain, and a rather tough climb towards the peak of the Gargano, where we climbed to a level of 850 metres. Together with us, a stray dog followed us almost all the way up, along with lots of grazing cows! From the top we could see the sea, which we hadn’t seen since Minturno: Manfredonia Bay in the distance offered us a beautiful panorama from the crest of the mountain.
From there, after a short descent, we got to the Santuario di San Matteo for our lunch stop which had kindly been organised by the ‘Senza Cemento’ group from San Marco in Lames. We ate so many fresh vegetables, and some of the plates we hadn’t finished from last night. We really appreciated the no-waste attitude allowing us to eat a delicious meal.
We had a brief visit to the Sanctuary and met the priest, who stamped our credentials. When we set off again, the ‘Senza Cemento’ group gave their place up to give way to a group of around 50 walkers: a sort of handover allowing us to feel welcomed and feel the warmth of this territory.
With our new friends, we carried on walking towards San Giovanni Rotondo, enjoying the breath-taking panorama. There was a bit of wind, which we were actually glad of, because this stage is very much exposed to the sun.
Once we got to the peak, we saw our destination in the distance which was rather exciting! In San Giovanni Rotondo we were welcomed by the Municipality who offered us some local products which we enjoyed in the company of a folklore group who were wearing traditional costumes. A fantastic welcome! On the Francigena of the South the welcomes have been unforgettable, along with the local specialities and beautiful scenary. I can’t wait to get to Monte Sant’Angelo, which I didn’t know about, but it has great potential to become an unforgettable stage on the Francigena – not only for the Santuario it’s famous for, but also for the beauty of the countryside and the atmosphere that surrounds this area.
Santuario di San Matteo
San Giovanni Rotondo historical centre
Santa Maria delle Grazie convent
Santuario di San Pio
Myra Stals, social media manager (EAVF)
Luca Faravelli, Project Manager (EAVF)
Mattia Fiorentini, Ambassador e blogger
Sharon Di Cinci, video maker
Senza Cemento group
Portamilsuso San Giovanni Rotondo group
The barefoot walkers of San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo Nord Walking group
Some members of the Red Cross
Domenico, Nature and Walking Guide