Lake Lesina and its basin aren’t Puglia with its white houses, the clear blue sea and the Baroque style. It’s set between the law-land of Puglia and the Gargano ridge. The colors are softer and the places are filled with poetry, the nature matches the quiet areas where time slowly goes by. It’s a 22 kilometers long stretch of water and it’s only 2 kilometers wide. Lake Lesina is the second biggest lake in Southern Italy, many streams reach it but it is also enriched with the underground water and the rainwater. It’s less than one meter deep and it’s connected to the sea by two artificial canals, Acquarotta and Schiapparo that mix the salt water from the Adriatic Sea with the sweet water by creating a marshy environment which is very important for the development of the whole basin.
The capital city of the lagoon
Lesina is the main town in this area and its roots can be set back to the Roman Age when this territory was called Alexina. It was a County belonging to the Duchy of Benevento then it was founded again by the Dalmatian fishermen so the first refugees from the nearby Lucera started to arrive in this area since they were escaping from the Emperor Constans II then the refugees coming from the archipelago of Tremiti landed there after eight centuries. It’s set on the Southern shore of the lake but in the past it was set on the narrow stretch of land between the sea and the lake, the earthquakes, the flooding and the malaria pushed the inhabitants to move to the peninsula where the village started to develop. Lesina is an important tourist destination in Northern Puglia nowadays, it’s one of the widest lagoons in the Mediterranean area. It’s a quiet place with a protected natural environment where the eel fishing is one of the main activities and the eel is one of the products belonging to the Slow Food Movement. Marina di Lesina is a popular seaside destination along the coastline.
The aquarium and the museums
Lesina can also be discovered through its museums, the Ethnographic museum and the Natural History Museum where you can see a beautiful aquarium. The ethnographic museum is called “the fisherman’s house”, it keeps some different objects that tell about the human presence in this area. It was arranged thanks to the support of the citizens who gave many objects in order to exhibit the local culture, the traditions, the experiences related to the trading and the local lifestyle that has always been deeply related to the land and the water. The Natural History Museum exhibits the local nature, the dioramas of the flowers and the animals, the botanical garden which is called “the herbal route” which enables the visitors to go deep into the features of this territory, better visit the aquarium and learn about the different species of fish.
Eels and salicornia
The eel is the Queen of tables, it’s used to prepare many dishes from the local traditions. The eel soup is one of the traditional dishes, the eel is cooked with the tomatoes, the salt, the pepper, the warmed vegetables and it can be served on toasted bread. Another specialty is the “scapece di anguilla di Lesina”, it seems Frederick II of Swabia particularly liked it, it’s made by using roasted or fried eels that are kept in olive oil. Another typical product from this area is the “salicornia” also known as the sea asparagus, it has been entered into the ”Official book of the typical food products from Puglia” thanks to the typical recipe of salicornia in oil. The tables of Lesina are a triumph of colors and tastes, from the extra-virgin olive oil to the wild vegetables, the seafood, the handmade pasta, the bread, the tasty bruschetta (grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil), the caponata and the pancotto.
Pink flamingos and mountain bikes
If you visit Lesina you can’t miss a boat trip on the lake. You can get the most from the landscape by sailing and admiring the village overlooking the peninsula. You can also sail around the islet of San Clemente where the ruins of an ancient Roman villa dating back to the 2nd/1st century BC have been found. There are animals and plants on this islet, it’s a stop for the migration of birds like the pink flamingos, the cormorants and the red herons Another place that can’t be missed is Bosco Isola, the stretch of land between the canals that separates the lagoon from the sea, it’s heaven for the trekking lovers but also for the mountain bike lovers who have a beautiful cycle route at their disposal. You can also enjoy the nature by practicing the bird-watching as well as taking advantage of the many places where you can taste the delicious local food from the Gargano area.
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