Photo of Cagnano Varano

Visit Cagnano Varano

Cagnano Varano is a hilltop villages situated close to the shores of Lake Varano in a region of lush vegetation on the north edge of the Gargano peninsula, in the Puglia region of south-east Italy.

Exploring Cagnano Varano

The old town of Cagnano Varano is located around the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Pietà, which has a a Latin cross plan and is in the baroque style.

Overlooking the ancient town square, which it dominates with its high bell tower, the church was consecrated in 1676 and raised to collegiate status in 1758. Inside, as well as numerous statues of saints, there are 18th century wooden choir stands.

Opposite the cathedral is the Baronial Palace, a "castrum" of Norman origin which underwent several changes between the 17th and 18th centuries. Called "il Casale" it is near the main gate of the city and was for a long period the residence of the local feudal lords, the Counts Caracciolo.

In fact, the Baronial Palace is a "Fortress Palace", an imposing structure because it was built on the ancient Norman "castrum" form. The Caracciolo Counts lived in only a part of the ancient castle, because "one quarter of it was just a heap of ruins" (Quilici).

Another place of worship is the Church of the Annunciation, probably dating from the 16th century, which holds the "Varano Crucifix”, a polychrome wooden statue dating back to the 14th century.


Mount Sant'Angelo

The most significant attraction in Cagnano Varano is surely Mount Sant'Angelo, and the cave-church consecrated to St. Michael in the late fifth century AD. Until the Middle Ages, the shrine was the object of a pilgrimage that attracted pilgrims even from outside Italy.

The cave is very evocative, with an entrance surmounted by a niche with a statue of the Saint. The floor is ancient and marked by carvings of hands and feet left by the faithful. In some places stalagmites and stalactites can also be seen.

To the left of the entrance are a small sacristy and a font on an octagonal base while inside, on the façade of an old whitewashed altar, a reptile is depicted. On the main altar is a copy of the statue of the Saint.

Cult of Saint Angelo

The cult of Saint Angelo was widespread among the Lombards and pilgrims reached the cave along a route that, starting from Mont Cenis and Saint Gothard converged on Pavia, the Lombard capital, and Piacenza, then continued to Rome along the Via Romea, while carefully avoiding the territory that fell under Byzantine rule.

The cult had a European coverage and took hold especially in France, but also in Spain, Germany, Belgium and even in England. Because of the spread of the Saint’s cult the road was called the “Via Sacra Langobardorum” (The Sacred Road of the Lombards).

Cagnano Varano tradition and cuisine

cagnano varanoFinally, faced with the great traditions of Cagnano Varano, a visitor can not fail to try the cuisine that reflects the great local tradition, and is characterized by seafood, like fish, shellfish, seafood and products from the lake, such as eels.

Among the typical local dishes we suggest you taste the "white capitone", "orecchiette" with chops, "tiella" and mussels with rice. Among  the sweets we mention the “Pancotto”, "Pizzarelli", "Zeppole of St. Joseph”, “biscuits cooked in wine" and “mustaccioli”.

See also etymology of the name Cagnano Varano

Places to Visit Nearby

Lake Varano is a large lake with various toursit facilities including bird watching and fishing. It is seperated from the Adriatic sea by a thin strip of land.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Gargano guide, and the Puglia guide.

See also Find Cagnano Varano hotels

Map of Cagnano Varano and places to visit


Cagnano Varano places to visit

Rodi Garganico

Rodi Garganico

Visit Rodi Garganico whose pretty white houses rise up from its large sandy beach.

Rodi Garganico guide


Carpino is a pretty village with fine views.

Carpino guide


Ischitella is a popular resort with a pretty old town of narrow alleys and colourful houses.

Ischitella guide
San Giovanni Rotondo

San Giovanni Rotondo

San Giovanni Rotondo is the second most visited pilgrim site in the world with visitors visiting the tomb of Padre Pio.

San Giovanni Rotondo guide
San Nicandro

San Nicandro

San Nicandro has a medieval centre surrounded by defensive walls and dominated by its castle.

San Nicandro guide
San Marco in Lamis

San Marco in Lamis

The Monastery at San Marco in Lamis is a popular pilgrim destination.

San Marco in Lamis guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Puglia