The Puglia that so amazed the naturalist Emperor Frederick II still partly exists: in the broad landscape of castles, for example, is the most important hibernation area for birds of the centre and south of Italy. Six thousand hectares of reeds and salt marshes along the coast between Manfredonia, Trinitapoli and Margherita di Savoia, where 30000 hibernate every year, are a natural heritage yet to be understood and valorized.
A microcosm of marshes scattered with patches of tamarisks and tufts of daffodils restores the visitor’s intact primordial fascination for the marshy world and is a place to visit and relive intense emotions as felt by Frederick. In the pools of marshy water of the Saline di Margherita nature reserve, barely separated from the sea by thin strips of land, are piled white pyramids of salt crystals whose roughness is compensated by the sight of soft sand dunes invaded here and there by tufts of common reeds. Countless migratory birds settle here periodically to reproduce or hibernate. According to a recent census by the forest rangers of the Ministry of Agricultural Resources, there are, for example, 7500 widgeons; 3200 sheldrakes; 1100 teals; 5000 coots; 2500 avocets. Armed with binoculars or cameras, one can also admire the elegant white herons or pink flamingos, as well as stunning birds of prey (like falcons and kestrels) and many other water birds. Heading south along the Adriatic coast, one passes kilometers of low-lying and sandy beaches, ruffled only by soft dunes of dark sand.
The sea naturally offers the possibility of invigorating swims, and on the horizon is the Gargano promontory that abuts into the water with its white towns (including San Giovanni Rotondo, the town of Padre Pio and one of the world capitals of spirituality). After admiring the beauties of the coastal landscape, one can visit Margherita di Savoia for beauty and health care, to frequent the town spa, renowned especially for its salsobromoiodic waters recommended for respiratory and skin diseases. But even the most passionate naturalist could not resist a detour into the surrounding countryside: the agrarian countryside of Tavoliere and North Barese is among the most striking and best preserved in Italy.