To Foggia - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 24, 2022

To Foggia

Today was the last cycling day of my tour in Puglia. It was a day that turned out to be quite different from what I'd expected, but was one that touched my soul.

My destination today was Foggia, located in a large agricultural region known as the Tavoliere. I chose Foggia because it has a train station. As you might recall from the previous post, I had originally planned to cycle in the Gargano Peninsula, and Foggia was the nearest place to catch a train back to Naples. Another reason to push on to Foggia was the chance to cycle through the salt marshes that are located between Margherita di Savoia and Zapponeta. Between Jimmy Buffet and Frank Zappa and flamingos - how could I go wrong?

It was a quiet Sunday morning when I left Trani, following a state provincial road to Barletta, about eight miles up the coast. The route circled the port of Barletta and then followed a lovely tree-lined mixed-used road that ran for three miles alongside the sea. It was not a quiet morning in Barletta. Conservatively, I would estimate I passed more than two hundred people out for their Sunday morning exercise – walking, jogging, running – even a few cyclists and some equestrians. It was slow going, weaving through the mob, but great fun.

Things were quite different a bit further up the coast, in Margherita di Savoia. The promenade along the sea was largely vacant, save a few slow strollers. The town seemed on the cusp of summer exuberance, a Margaritaville in waiting.    

Out for Sunday morning exercise in Barletta
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Horses on the beach
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Collecting sea shells by the sea shore?
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Margherita di Savoia - awaiting throngs of the summer visitors
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Somewhere after Margherita di Savoia things got a little mixed up. The first was when I thought I was on the wrong road, but wasn’t. The detour of my own making was short lived and I was soon on the correct road crossing one of the inlets between the salt marshes and the sea. The second mix-up was when I thought I was on the right road, but I wasn’t. This was more serious as I completely missed getting on the path through the salt marshes. Instead, I stayed on the busy state provincial road, all the while looking for signs of a some sort of track – but I saw no cyclists, no walkers, nothing that looked cyclable. I even walked down toward the marshes at the few places where there appeared to be access, but had no luck. So, I cycled all the way to Zapponeta with nary a flamingo in sight.

Later, I revisited the Rachael Anderson’s video of their ride from Trani to Manfredonia, which clearly shows them riding through the marshes - along with wonderful flamingo pictures. I recommend you take a look at that entry to see what I missed.

In Zapponeta, I found a bench in a small plaza on the edge of town where I consoled myself with a breakfast sandwich and a chocolate-filled cornetto that I'd picked up in Margherita di Savoia. The other bench was occupied by two men, sometimes three, and a small child named Michael. From time to time they would shout out friendly greetings to passers-by, while Michael was most interested in the many motorcycles that roared past. Whiling away a Sunday afternoon in small-town Italy.

The Margherita di Savoia salt marshes
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Vivien George anxiously awaits as I look for a bike path through the salt marshes
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Can't see any path here
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Not out there, either
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Welcome to Zapponetta
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Whiling away the day in Zapponetta
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After lunch, I headed west to Foggia, just as the wind picked up and changed direction. My day suddenly got a lot more challenging: 17-20 mph headwinds/crosswinds for the 25 miles into Foggia. The good news was that the roads I selected were so isolated that there was no traffic, less than one car/mile for twenty miles. The landscape was flat, crops in all directions. It seemed as if I was back in Iowa. I recalled those long RAGBRAI rides where I’d brake for slices of ice cold watermelon sold from the back of a pick-up trucks parked on a dusty side road. I kept pedaling.

In the Tavoliere, also known as "the granary of Italy" for it's role in wheat production
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Little egret, perhaps?
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Bill ShaneyfeltAgreed.

https://ebird.org/species/litegr
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3 months ago
I did pause when I saw this sign, not knowing exactly what it said (Road closed). I went ahead - but not many cars followed.
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On the way to Foggia
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On the way to Foggia
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A short stop to roll out a small hamstring cramp
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Even the silos look like old turrets
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This could be Iowa, seriously. Except for those big hills looming in the distance.
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But we’ve all been there, fighting headwinds. It was not a real hardship, not like that experienced by the immigrant farmworkers whose abuse and exploitation by the “gangmaster” system in Foggia have been reported by international publications such as the Guardian and NPR. I did not read about these atrocities until later; however, on more than one occasion today I was encircled by the stench of unwashed humanity, probably brought by crosswinds from one of the unseen shantytowns that populate the area. I witnessed a large group of farm workers, walking bent over through a field, urged along by a man on a tractor. No, there is true suffering in the world, and cycling in a headwind is a nanopain in comparison.

Sometimes, a little disappointment that your day didn’t turn out to be quite as wonderful as expected gives one the perspective to realize just how truly, truly fortunate I really am. And for that I am eternally thankful.

A "gang" of immigrant workers and their master, seen through the truck that likely transported them to the field
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Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 530 miles (853 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Rachael AndersonYour observation on adversity is very true. We have it so easy compared to most of the world’s population! Sorry you missed the flamingos. I guess you’ll have to go back and then you can also do the Gargano peninsula.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachael AndersonThanks Rachael. And another trip to Puglia is certainly on the table
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3 months ago
Tricia GrahamYes it is so easy to forget how truely fortunate we are
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3 months ago