Italy is hardly a country you think of when it comes to getting off the beaten track. It has the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites, for starters.
Yet my recent foray into the spur on the heel of the boot showed me a side of Italy I’d never seen before. One of landscapes rather than landmarks and fresh air instead of frescoes.
The Gargano National Park is one in name rather than rogue wilderness function. Roads slice and curve through its forests of marine green that spill towards the coast, and ochre-walled towns and hamlets cling to its slopes like crustaceans to the rocks on the shore.
The Adriatic coast looks magnificent from afar, but up close the sand is lined with everyday loungers and its car parks are littered with touts. Nice for a quick dip but not a place to stop and stare.
Lake Varano on the other hand…oh my.
Led here by someone born and bred within the peninsula, our ankles scratched through the wild grass as we scrambled (I limped) the thirty metres or so from the side of the road to the edge of the lake.
Then the sun performed, sinking with majesty slowly into the sky, spreading scarlet fire larks and deep golden beams into the pine-scented horizon.
We waited. And watched.
Until the fading violet remnants left us with no choice but to turn and leave.
Four people, silent, watching.
There are things in this life that I know I’ll never come to understand. And the resplendent setting of the sun that marks the end of each day, an event so commonplace, so mundane, so literally everyday, is just one of those things.
Because each time it happens and you catch it, you feel as though you’re watching a miracle slide across the sky.
Disclosure:I visited Gargano in Puglia as part of the #mustlovefestivals project I’m taking part in. Read more about it over here. And in case you’re wondering, no, this wasn’t the festival part ;-) This was in between.