The Abbey of Santa Maria of Pulsano is found on the Gargano Promontory in Puglia in the province of Foggia, north of the Bay of Manfredonia and 9km from Monte Sant'Angelo.
Founded in the 6th century, Saracens destroyed it in 952, but the abbey was rebuilt under the direction of San Giovanni Scalcione da Matera and named "Santa Maria di Pulsano," a Benedictine Hermitage for Pulsanesi Eremites. It quickly became one of the most powerful monasteries in Italy. Then came the earthquake of 1646 which destroyed almost everything. The Celestine of Manfredonia held the property until it was confiscated by means of the Napoleonic laws of 1806.
But then the Abbey rose up once again; in 1991 a group of volunteers from Manfredonia and Monte Sant'Angelo calling themselves "Cristiani Pro Pulsano" began to restore and renew the structures, culminating in 1997 with the formation of a new Latin and Byzantine monastic community from the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste and Piana degli Albanese, the episcopal see of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Sicily composed of folks of Albanian descent. Today the visitor can stay in the abbazia for short periods and even, at some times of the year attend Iconography and other workshops. The community farms and herds, providing its own food, and the new, high-tech library holds over 20,000 religious texts.
The casual visitor can enjoy the views to the bay of Manfredonia, the Romanesque church backed into a cave, and viewing the gardening and herding activities while in a meditative mood.
There are great views to the south, where you can see the pilgrimage trail from Manfredonia that leads up the narrow valley to the terraced fields belonging to the Abbey. You see it in our pictures below and relate it to the map.
If you zoom out, you'll see that the map also shows two steep valleys to the right and left of the abbey site. These surrounding valleys, like Cappadoccia in Turkey and Meteora in Greece, hold 24 hermitage ruins, one of which you can (barely) see in the picture to the right (click to see it bigger). The hermitage ruins are in the lower part of the center of the picture on a rock pinnacle.
Click the thumbnails to see the larger pictures in our gallery.
For a look at the attractions in the Gargano Promontory which can be combined with a visit to Pulsano Abbey, see: Where to Go in the Gargano.
We recommend staying in the interesting town of Monte Sant'Angelo. See a list of user-recommended hotels in Monte Sant'Angelo. We enjoyed our stay at the Palace Hotel San Michele which has a great view down to the Adriatic from its breakfast room.
Don't miss an opportunity to eat at Ristorante La Caravella (via Reale Basilica 84), whose current host, Pietro Tomasioulo as a child was present at a meal with Arthur Miller, who wrote a short story documenting his experience at Monte Sant'Angelo. Excellent food at a reasonable price. Get the goat.
Find out more using the website of the Abbey of Pulsano (in Italian).