The ancient Umbra Forest is a protected nature reserve located in the Gargano National Park, in Puglia. It reaches an altitude of 832 meters and covers over 10,000 hectares, earning it the nickname “the green lung of Gargano“. In the Umbra Forest, there are 15 trails of varying difficulty, suitable for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists, and photography enthusiasts.

The origin of the forest’s name is unclear: according to some, the name “Umbra” derives from the ancient Umbri people (a prehistoric Celtic tribe), while others believe it simply refers to a shaded place. In fact, most of the terrain here is shaded due to dense vegetation.

It is one of the most interesting places to visit, especially for families with children. In just 15 km, you transition from the golden beaches of Gargano to a unique, almost mountainous environment.

The flora of the Umbra Forest boasts over 2000 plant species, earning Gargano the nickname of a botanical garden. Beeches predominate in the upper part of the forest, oaks and holm oaks in the middle, and downy oaks in the lower part. Other species include the hornbeam, turkey oak, field maple, mountain maple, manna ash, and yew.

The fauna of the forest is rich in animal species that find their natural habitat here. Some are common species like wild boars, roe deer, weasels, and woodpeckers, while others are rare, such as fallow deer and wildcats.

Certainly worth visiting is the Cutino Lake, better known as the Umbra Lake, an artificial lake and a true oasis of peace with different colors depending on the weather and season. The Naturalistic Museum, in the Visitor Center area, features sections dedicated to flora, archaeology, and Gargano fauna. The Deer Reserve, located in a fenced area a few meters from the Visitor Center, and the Giocabosco, a play and educational area set up within the forest and intended for children, are also must-visit attractions.