The sight of green scenery induces a sense of relaxation in our brains; the awe of its abundance allows us to slow down, watch and breathe without feeling compelled to do anything else. Let’s go forest bathing…
The Japanese have understood this ages ago, and perhaps even a few odd world citizens who were blessed with the insight of green reflection. While referred to as ‘forest bathing’ there is no water involved in such activity; and yet, you are in essence bathed in the healing green power of high-rise trees older than nations. The sense of standing under a thicket of trees in the middle of the woods offers perspective and a chance to meditate on your place in the world, at this moment.
At a time when people struggle to disconnect and resort to medicine in order to soothe stress and anxiety, Mother Nature offers a better alternative; non-medical green therapy that immediately releases happy hormones from the brain to the body.
Here in Puglia, between the two azure coasts, you’ll find several great locations where you can wander independently and allow yourself to practice this deep-healing forest therapy session – it’s free, it’s profound and proven to work wonders. Plus, they can be explored all year round. Indoors might be pampering and comfortable, but we suggest you shift from the comfort zone and get inspired.
Gargano National Park
Mentioned in the Spring-Summer issue of VIA Magazine, the Umbra Forest is a 400-hectare natural reserve located at the northern tip of Puglia and is one of the last uncontaminated forests in the country, home to rare plants and wildlife. While named ‘Umbra Forest’, there is no connection to the Umbria region nor to the seeming root word ‘ombra’ (shade); rather, it refers to ‘water’ (‘imber’) in the local dialect. The national park covers some 10,500 hectares in total and was officially inscribed in 2017 as a protected Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO; it is the last remnant of the ancient’ “Nemus Garganicum” that once covered the whole area. Walk to your heart’s delight among centuries-old beechwood trees (they cover some 3,200 hectares alone), oaks, hornbeams and some of Italy’s oldest yews.
How to get there:
Strada Statale 89 Vieste – Peschici – 71037 Vico del Gargano
The National Park of Alta Murgia
The Alta Murgia is one of the most beautiful locations in Puglia, and a must-see for nature goers and hikers. While at the outskirts of this national park are manmade stone terraces and masserias that dot the landscape, within the park grounds are cycling and walking trails that merit a visit, particularly The Mercadante Forest. Depending on the season, you’re likely to cross fresh haystacks in the summer, a rush of color in the spring, and wild foliage in the autumn. Find a spot or let yourself wander for a while until the green feeling takes over. In this part of Puglia you will also find Castel del Monte and the archaeological site of Rocca del Garagnone, both relics of Frederick II.
How to get there:
Additional recommendations include the gorges of Gravina in Puglia and the Lucanian Dolomites.
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