In the mosaic of the Ofanto Valley
The second stage crosses the vast countryside of Cerignola whose territory extends between the Middle and Lower Ofanto Valley, up to the last plateau bastion before the river valley opens up with its characteristic mosaic of olive trees, orchards and vineyards. Located on a cliff 10 km from the town of Cerignola, Madonna di Ripalta is in fact a natural step and significant scenographic point from which it is possible to enjoy sweeping views from the Apennines to the sea. The cliff of Ripalta represents one of the most natural spots of the entire Apulian course of the river thanks to the presence of a rare riparian wood and the nearby gullies which, during the warm months of the year, host colonies of bee-eaters, colorful birds that nest by digging tunnels on the sandy walls. The last stretch of the stage from Cerignola to Canosa coincides with the itinerary of the Via Francigena del Sud, which crosses the Ofanto on a Roman bridge built on the Via Traiana from Rome to Brindisi. Canosa was the capital of Apulia at the time of the Romans and its immense archaeological heritage certainly deserves a visit at the end of the stage.