Gargano is a historical and geographical Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 sub-region situated in Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

, consisting of a wide isolated mountain massif made of highland and several peaks and forming the backbone of the Gargano Promontory projecting into the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

. The high point is Monte Calvo at 1065 m (3,494.1 ft). Most of the upland area, about 1200 km² (463.3 sq mi), is part of the Gargano National park, founded in 1991. It is within the Italian Province of Foggia
Province of Foggia
The Province of Foggia is a province in the Apulia region of Italy.This province is also known as Capitanata, originally Catapanata, because during the Middle Ages it was governed by a catapan, as part of the Catapanate of Italy...


The Gargano peninsula is partly covered by the remains of an ancient forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

, Foresta Umbra, the only remaining part in Italy of the ancient oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 forest that once covered much of Central Europe as well as the Apennine deciduous montane forests biome
Biomes are climatically and geographically defined as similar climatic conditions on the Earth, such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, and are often referred to as ecosystems. Some parts of the earth have more or less the same kind of abiotic and biotic factors spread over a...

. Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 spoke of the oaks of Garganus in Ode II, ix.


‎The coast
A coastline or seashore is the area where land meets the sea or ocean. A precise line that can be called a coastline cannot be determined due to the dynamic nature of tides. The term "coastal zone" can be used instead, which is a spatial zone where interaction of the sea and land processes occurs...

 of Gargano is rich in beaches and tourist facilities. Vieste
Vieste is a town and comune in the province of Foggia, in the Apulia region of southeast Italy.thumb|Cathedral of ViesteA marine resort in Gargano, Vieste has received Blue Flags for the purity of its waters from the Foundation for Environmental Education...

, Peschici
Peschici is a town and comune in the province of Foggia in the Apulia region of southeast Italy.Famous seaside resorts, its territory belongs to the Italian National Park of Gargano and to the Comunità Montana del Gargano.- Geography :...

 and Mattinata
Mattinata is a famous seaside resort town and comune in the province of Foggia, Apulia, southern Italy.-Geography:The only town in Apulia facing south the Adriatic sea, Mattinata is part of the Gargano National Park . The main urban area is located above two hills enclosed by mountains in the...

 are world-wide-famous seaside resort locations. The two major salt lakes of Lesina and Varano
Lago di Varano
Lago di Varano is a lake in the Province of Foggia, Apulia, Italy. Its surface area is 60.5 km²....

 are located in the northern part of the peninsula. Monte Gargano is the site of the oldest shrine in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 dedicated to the archangel Michael
Michael (archangel)
Michael , Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; , Mikhaḗl; or Míchaël; , Mīkhā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael...

, Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano. Today tourism is thriving with several hotels and campsites, in particular along the seaside of Marina of Lesina, give the possibility of staying in this suggestive area. Tourist attractions include the cathedral, the episcopal palace, the Abbey of Santa Maria of Ripalta and the volcanic rocks dating back to the Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 era, known as "Black Stones", as well as the Sanctuary of San Nazario.

The National Park of Gargano is one of the few national protected areas efficiently contributing to the "un Bosco per Kyoto" enterprise, which in 2007 has involved several schools in the realization of projects for a social and responsible tourism. It is one of the most appreciated areas, unique for the decrease of fires and for the politics of environmental awareness.

Annual events

  • St Primiano and the saint sailing-race on 15 May,
  • St Nazario
    Nazarius and Celsus
    Saints Nazarius and Celsus were two martyrs of whom nothing is known except the discovery of their bodies by Saint Ambrose.According to Paulinus the Deacon's Vita Ambrosii, Ambrose, at some time within the last three years of his life, after the death of the Emperor Theodosius Saints Nazarius and...

     and the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary with the same name on July 28;
  • St Rocco’s Day on 15, 16 and 17 August.

Gargano Peninsula fossils

Some 12 to 4 mya (million years ago) during the Late Miocene
Late Miocene
The Late Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene Epoch made up of two stages. The Tortonian and Messinian stages comprise the Late Miocene sub-epoch....

 to Early Pliocene, a highly endemic vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

Fauna or faunæ is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora.Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess shale fauna"...

 evolved on what was then Gargano Island due to higher sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

s than today. Several of these animals were subject to island gigantism
Island gigantism
Island gigantism or insular giantism is a biological phenomenon in which the size of animals isolated on an island increases dramatically in comparison to their mainland relatives....



The fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s are found in partially infilled paleokarst fissures across Monte Gargano. The Gargano Island fauna is known as Mikrotia fauna after an endemic rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of the area. Initially named Microtia, this had to be corrected, because the genus name Microtia was already used for butterflies.

The surface features of the ancient karst
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 developed in Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

. In these, sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 accumulated together with the remains of the local fauna, forming thick layers of reddish, massive or crudely stratified silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

y clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

s, known as terrae rossae ("red soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

s"). Through the mid-Pliocene
The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 2.588 million years before present. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch...

, some of these deposits were flooded, probably due to tectonic movement of the Apulian Plate
Apulian Plate
The Adriatic or Apulian Plate is a small tectonic plate carrying primarily continental crust that broke away from the African plate along a large transform fault in the Cretaceous period. The name Adriatic Plate is usually used when referring to the northern part of the plate...

. Others were overlaid by other sediments of terrestrial or freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 origin. In this way a buried, partially reworked paleokarst originated.

Later, as the ice ages cycle got underway, sea levels sank and the former island was continentalized. In the cool and semiarid conditions of the Early Pleistocene
Early Pleistocene
Calabrian is a subdivision of the Pleistocene Epoch of the Geologic time scale. ~1.8 Ma.—781,000 years ago ± 5,000 years, a period of ~.The end of the stage is defined by the last magnetic pole reversal and plunge in to an ice age and global drying possibly colder and drier than the late Miocene ...

 (some 1.8 - 0.8 mya) a second karstic cycle occurred, producing the neokarst which removed part of the paleokarst fill.

The Mikrotia fauna

The Gargano Island endemic mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s included:
  • Deinogalerix
    Deinogalerix , was a genus of the order Erinaceomorpha, which lived in Italy in the Late Miocene. The genus was apparently endemic to what was then Gargano Island, today's Gargano peninsula...

    - 5 species of gymnure
    The gymnure, also called a hairy hedgehog or moonrat, is a type of mammal belonging to the subfamily Galericinae, in the family Erinaceidae and the order Erinaceomorpha...

    s ("hairy hedgehogs"), among them the giant D. koenigswaldi with a skull of c.20 cm length.(Freudenthal, 1972; Butler, 1980)
  • Hoplitomeryx
    The extinct five-horned prongdeer Hoplitomeryx matthei with its sabrelike upper canines lived on the former Gargano Island during the Miocene and the Early Pliocene, now a peninsula on the east coast of South Italy....

    - some 5 species of "prongdeer" with five horns and sabre-like upper canine teeth. They ranged from tiny to the size of a red deer
    Red Deer
    The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

    , and large and small ones apparently occurred at the same time rather than one evolving from the other.(Leinders 1984, van der Geer 2005, van der Geer 2008)
  • Mikrotia - 3 or more species of murine
    The Old World rats and mice, part of the subfamily Murinae in the family Muridae, comprise at least 519 species. This subfamily is larger than all mammal families except the Cricetidae and Muridae, and is larger than all mammal orders except the bats and the remainder of the...

     rodent. The largest species, M. magna, had a skull 10 cm long.(Freudenthal, 1976, Parra et al., 1999)
  • Paralutra garganensis - an endemic species of otter
    The Otters are twelve species of semi-aquatic mammals which feed on fish and shellfish, and also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals....

    . (Willemsen, 1983)
  • Prolagus
    Prolagidae is an extinct family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae . One genus, Prolagus, is recognised within the family. This family as Prolaginae was previously considered a subfamily of Ochotonidae. Prolagus first appeared in the Early Miocene in Europe, where it...

    and P. apricenicus - huge endemic pika
    The pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and short tail. The name pika is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae . One genus, Ochotona, is recognised within the family, and it includes 30 species...

     species- P. imperialis was larger than any other known Prolagus.(Mazza, 1987)
  • Stertomys - 5 species of dormouse
    Dormice are rodents of the family Gliridae. Dormice are mostly found in Europe, although some live in Africa and Asia. They are particularly known for their long periods of hibernation...

    , among them the giant S. laticrestatus (Daams and Freudenthal, 1985) and four smaller species (Freudenthal and Martín-Suárez, 2006)
  • Hattomys - 3 species of giant hamsters, among them the giant H. gargantua. (Freudenthal, 1985)

Non-endemic mammals found on the island included:
  • Apodemus
    Apodemus is the genus of Muridae which contains the Eurasian field mice. Related to the Ryūkyū spiny rats and the prehistoric Rhagamys – and far more distantly to Mus and Malacomys –, it includes the following species:*Striped Field Mouse, Apodemus agrarius*Alpine Field Mouse, Apodemus...

    - a field mouse
  • A prehistoric species of Cricetus hamster
    Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species, classified in six or seven genera....

     (Freudenthal, 1985)
  • Megacricetodon - another hamster (Freudenthal, 1985)

Bird species occurring at Gargano included (studied by Ballmann, 1973, 1976):
  • Apus
    Apus (genus)
    The bird genus Apus comprise some of the Old World members of the family Apodidae, commonly known as swifts.They are among the fastest birds in the world. They resemble swallows, to which they are not related, but have shorter tails and sickle-shaped wings...

    , a swift.
  • Columba
    Columba (genus)
    The large bird genus Columba comprises a group of medium to large stout-bodied pigeons, often referred to as the typical pigeons. The terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used indiscriminately for smaller and larger Columbidae, respectively...

    - one of the oldest pigeon fossils known. It probably was more widespread and if so, the older name C. pisana would likely apply to it.
  • Garganoaetus freudenthali and Garganoaetus murivorus - two species of falconid
    The falcons and caracaras are around 60 species of diurnal birds of prey that make up the family Falconidae. The family is divided into two subfamiles, Polyborinae, which includes the caracaras and forest falcons, and Falconinae, the falcons, kestrels and falconets.-Description:Falcons and...

    , the former larger than a Golden Eagle
    Golden Eagle
    The Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas...

    , the latter well-sized; endemic. The smaller species, which likely is the stratigraphically oldest, is closely related to Aquila delphinensis from La Grive-Saint-Alban, France, according to Peter Ballmann in 1973. Its closest living relatives are the small eagles (Hieraaetus
    The genus Hieraaetus, sometimes known as hawk-eagles, denoted a group of smallish eagles usually placed in the Buteoninae subfamily of accipitrids....

    , Spizaetus
    Spizaetus is the typical hawk-eagle birds of prey genus found in the tropics of the Americas. It was however used to indicate a group of tropical eagles that included species occurring in southern and southeastern Asia and one representative of this genus in the rainforests of West Africa. The Old...

    , Lophaetus).
  • "Strix" perpasta - a true owl, perhaps the same as the widespread Bubo zeylonensis lamarmorae, a paleosubspecies of the Brown Fish-owl (Mlíkovský 2002) but this taxon
    |thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

     was usually known from later times.
  • Tyto
    The genus Tyto includes all barn owls except for the bay owls - that is, the true barn owls, the grass owls and the masked owls collectively making up the subfamily Tytoninae...

    - 2 or 3 species of barn-owls. The largest, T. gigantea
    Tyto gigantea
    Tyto gigantea is an extinct barn owl from what is now Gargano, Italy, dating back to the late Miocene. From its remains, T. gigantea is suggested to have been as large as, or larger than the Eurasian Eagle-owl, Bubo bubo....

    , was up to twice as massive as the living eagle-owl Bubo bubo. T. robusta
    Tyto robusta
    Tyto robusta was a prehistoric barn-owl. It lived at what is now Monte Gargano in Italy, and was an island throughout much of the Neogene when sea levels were higher. The owl's remains date back to the Miocene-Pliocene boundary 5.5 to 5 million years ago. The fossil bones are about 60% as long...

    was also large; this species and the former were endemic but actually seem to have been chronosubspecies. The supposed remains of the smaller T. sanctialbani found at Gargano are now placed in the widespread Tyto balearica.
  • an indeterminate woodpecker
    Woodpeckers are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes. They are one subfamily in the family Picidae, which also includes the piculets and wrynecks. They are found worldwide and include about 180 species....


See also

  • Puglia
  • Daunia
    250px|thumb|Example of Daunian ceramics.The Daunia is a historical and geographical region in Apulia, southern Italy, mostly coincident with modern Province of Foggia...

  • Tavoliere delle Puglie
    Tavoliere delle Puglie
    thumb|300px|The Tavoliere seen from the [[Gargano]] promontory.The Tavoliere delle Puglie is a plain in northern Apulia, southern Italy, occupying nearly a half of the Capitanata traditional region. It covers a surface of c...

  • Garganica
    The Garganica is a breed of goat which originated on the Gargano promentary in the Italian region of Apulia. From there it has spread to other parts of Apulia and to neighbouring regions....

    , the local breed of goat
  • Trabucco
    The trabucco is an old fishing machine typical of the coast of Gargano, is protected as historical monuments by the homonym National Park. Spread along the coast of southern Adriatic especially in the Italian provinces of Foggia, Campobasso, and Chieti and also in some parts of the coast of...

    a giant fishing machine belonging to Gargano tradition

External links

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