The nature trail from Mergoli to Vignanotica starts in a hairpin bend on the side of the coastal road between Mattinata and Vieste (SP53). A hike that takes you from the viewpoint along this road just above the Mergoli beach towards Spiaggia di Vignanotica. Vignanotica is one of the many beautiful sand beaches hidden between the rocky shores of the Gargano peninsula. This means a walk with consistently beautiful views.
The peninsula of Gargano is a National Park nowadyas and also known as the 'Trail of the boot' of Italy. It was once an island which later has grown on the Italian mainland. Partly for this reason, this part is suddenly very mountainous in contrast to the mainland of the province of Apulia. This mountainous landscape is largely covered with forests that almost reaches into the sea. The Garganian coast most resembles a piece of suddenly demolished land. It is also because of that sights that it is one of the wildest coasts in Italy. Especially in the section between the towns of Mattinata and Vieste, the impressive rock walls are often perpendicular to the water.
From the starting point in the hairpin bend on the coastal road the first part of the hike leads you close to the coast. The route is clearly marked and actually has no sideways, so you don't have to worry about navigation. That's a good thing because during the walk you are actually continuously caught by the spectacular views of the sea and rocky coastlines. From the start you have a view over Baia delle Zagare and the adjacent Grotta del Puntone. A view that requires you to look over your shoulder every now and then. During the hike you will come across many benches that are not always strategically placed. They don't give the best views on the sea. Fortunately, you do not really need rest on the way to the Spiaggia di Vignanotica as the route covers only 2 kilometers.
About halfway through the hike you start to descend further and further towards Spiaggia di Vignanotica, which is about 100 meters lower. The afforestation, consisting of olive trees, pine trees and Mediterranean scrub, increases more strongly in this second part of the hike. The path becomes more challenging here and through the trees you catch glimpses of the beautiful beach here and there. Once arrived at Spiaggia di Vignanotica you can enjoy a refreshing dip or a nice drink. Do take the time to enjoy it here because the way back will require a little more effort from you.
Despite the relatively short distance of this hike, the way back provides a more intense experience than the way to the beach. Where you could fully enjoy all the wide views on the way to the beach, you will now have to work to walk the 100 meters back up. This also means that the hike is not highly recommended in the summer period, due to the high temperatures.
But, the effort you have to make on the way back does make you more attentive to the immediate environment. For example, it is possible to discover a peregrine falcon, kestrel, raven or pale swift. The salamander is also present here in large numbers. The last part of the route runs flat again towards the hairpin bend and thus starting point. This gives you some time to process the effort of the climb and let the views work on you. The path between Mergoli and Spiaggia di Vignanotica is well worth it.