The Foresta Umbra nature reserve is a protected natural area located in the innermost part of the Gargano National Park. It owes its name to the thick vegetation which makes it very shady in many places.
The Umbrian forest has an area of about 10.000 hectares and has a rugged geography with reliefs that reach 800 meters above sea level, with some parts reaching close to the coasts.
Since 2017, its beech forests have become part of the transnational UNESCO site "Primordial beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe", thus becoming a World Heritage Site.
The Gargano and the Umbra Forest can be defined as "the realm of biodiversity", in fact, even if the Gargano represents only 0,7% of the national territory, it holds 40% of the Italian flora and 70% of the birds nested in our country .
The Umbrian forest is the subject of continuous studies: the vegetation, for example, is characterized by the phenomenon of macrosomatism: the plants are larger than usual. This allows you to come across specimens of Aleppo pines, beeches, holm oaks and yew trees of monumental dimensions.
The Umbra forest boasts over 2.000 plant species and is the largest Italian deciduous forest with beech trees, real botanical monuments, with heights of over 40 meters and diameters greater than one metre.
There are about 4.000 hectares of Cerro beech and oak woods, with the presence of Farnetto, Holm oak, Downy oak and noble species such as Maple or Palo, White Hornbeam, Field Maple, Sycamore Maple, Manna Ash, Yew and many other species, in particular the Aleppo pine in the coastal areas. The low Mediterranean maquis is also rich and is widespread in the territory and in the undergrowth, with Holly, Vitalbe, Lentisk, Juniper and others, wild Orchids with as many as 65 species: a record in the whole Mediterranean basin!
The fauna is also very rich and varied, typical is the Italian roe deer, native to Gargano, the wild cat, the wild boar, the badger, the weasel, the dormouse and the birds: the eagle owl, the long-eared owl, the woodpecker, the 'Allocco, the Barn Owl, the Magpie, the Woodcock and others.
In ancient times the Forest belonged to feudal properties, later it was handed over to the municipalities of Monte Sant'Angelo, Hornbeam, Ischitella, Vico del Gargano, Peschici and Morning. In 1861, after the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, it passed to the State Property of the Kingdom of Italy and, with law 4 March 1896 n. 3713, was declared inalienable and turned over to the State Forestry Administration.
What to see in the Umbra Forest
The Umbrian forest is a territory to be explored by all ages.
Very interesting, especially for children, is the easy path around the artificial lake, full of carp, catfish, turtles and toads that often emerge from the surface to feed on the breadcrumbs thrown by the little ones.
Not far away is the Daini area, where you can "Bambi" who, protected by a net, interact with visitors. Near the "Daini area" there is also the visitor center and the "Gio Bosco", a magnificent playground made entirely of wood, completely surrounded by nature.
However, there are numerous existing paths in the Umbra Forest, to be covered on foot or by mountain bike: the path “CHARITATE-SFILZI”, walking time 3 hours and the path “LAKE OF UMBRA-FALASCONE”, travel time one hour.
Here you will find a map with the itineraries in the Umbra Forest made available by the Hotel Ponte
Photos of the Umbra Forest
How to get to Umbra Forest
From Vieste you can get to the Forest through the Garganica state road 89 to be covered for about 9 km, then turn onto the SP52 Bis (direction Monte Sant'Angelo), or from the Scialmarino Bay directly take the 52Bis which "cuts" the forest giving us a extraordinary show from the first Km