Start /Finish – Mattinata – Gargano
The route starts from the historic centre of Mattinata in the panoramic square of Santa Maria della Luce. You head down the town’s main road and then run downhill, turning onto a small paved street which winds through olive trees, leading you onto an ancient shepherds’ track that runs through rocks and single tracks. You soon reach the top of Mount Saraceno, passing through the Daunia Gate, which used to be the entrance to the Daunia Necropolis 2,500 years ago. The trail runs through this incredible archaeological site, an open-air museum seemingly suspended between the sky and the sea. Once you reach the ruins of the old Saracena Tower overlooking the sea, you head downhill, almost running headfirst into the Adriatic Sea. The first part may be easy and fast, but the middle part is very technical and steep. The final section is exposed yet manageable, taking you to the tip of the headland and then onto the isolated and peaceful Mattinata Beach, one of those rare places with nothing nearby, just olive trees. It’s a challenging 2 km beach run, first on sand and then pebbles! As you leave the beach, you climb back up the other slope of the bay. The first part here is paved (past the entrance to Hotel Il Porto, featuring the first refreshment stop at 10 KM) as you then climb back over the ridge through Mediterranean scrub until you reach the small village of “Principe” at a height of 200 mt. You run down a steep, rapid descent along a shepherds’ path that takes you to the Mattinata Olive Mill. You then immediately climb back up along a path which is initially paved but then turns into a very steep beaten track, leading you over an ancient area used for seasonal grazing, through a thick juniper forest. You emerge at a height of 600 metres onto a charming plain, dotted with manor farms and Podolica cattle. A small isolated path soon turns into a technical single track that leads you to the top of Mount Sacro where an enchanting holm oak forest opens out onto a clearing, featuring a thirteenth-century Benedictine abbey (850 mt AMSL). You pass through the whole of this UNIQUE masterpiece! Once you’ve left this site, you bear left and descend towards “Piscina della signora” (up to this point the trail’s segment has been the same as for the “long” course), joining up with the ancient pilgrims’ way. You head west along this path (to your left), crossing a small valley and beginning the fast, direct and panoramic descent towards Mattinata. You arrive back in town from the North, running towards the centre and the scenic Square of Santa Maria della Luce.
INFO & ADVICE
This is a great distance trail with excellent height variations aimed at experienced trail runners or joggers, trained in long distances or mountain running. At first glance you may not notice the area used for seasonal grazing, but the route offers technical steep sections uphill and downhill. It offers a route along the beach, through the historic centre of town, and across two internationally important poignant cultural sites: the Necropolis and the Benedictine abbey. You get a peak of the Umbra Forest, which is enough to make you want to come back next year to try the long course!
We look forward to seeing you!