This ancient city in the province of Taranto, bears evidence of habitation from Neolithic times.
The first mention of what was to prove a brutal and tragic history was in 338 BC, when the King of Sparta died in battle below its walls as, for generations control of the region was contested by the indigenous horse breeding Messapians, and the important Greek colony of Taranto supported by Sparta.
However the two adversaries formed an uneasy alliance against the encroaching Romans, but assisting the Carthaginian general Hannibal culminated in the absorption of Taranto and the destruction of Manduria in 212 BC as the victorious Romans razed the town and carried its inhabitants to slavery.
The Messapian people finally disappeared from history in 90 AD after another brutal repression following a failed rebellion against Roman hegemony.
Rebuilt by settlers, it was again destroyed after the fall of the Roman Empire in 547 AD, this time by the Ostrogoths for assisting the Byzantines.
Rebuilt yet again, it was again destroyed in 977 AD by the Saracens and Turks as they tried to wrest control of Southern Italy. The area was resettled and again the town was rebuilt as Casalnuovo by the Normans and development continued as control of the region passed to the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1789 it finally regained its ancient name of Manduria prior to entering the Renaissance era.
Situated just 50 kms from either of our holiday Villas, Manduria is a pleasant destination to visit
There are still extensive remains of its original Megalithic and Messapian fortifications nearby.
Today the compact Old Town is a pleasant stroll for the exploring tourist, boasting the 12th century Medieval ghetto, a Romanesque Cathedral and the Castle on the juncture of the Old and New Towns. The 11th century Church of the Holy Trinity displays a rose window facade and Renaissance portals. Its bell tower is a later addition from the 1400s.
The Church of San Pietro Mandurino is only open to the public during religious celebrations, and was adapted for Christian usage in the 8th century from an earlier Hellenistic hall tomb dating from its pre Roman era.
The crest of the city depicts the Fonte Pliniana ( Plinys Fountain) So named after Pliny the Elder, who described in his work Naturilis Historia the well that maintained a constant water level always, and had an almond tree sprouting from it. Today, the well still exists,… it even has an almond tree growing from its centre… exactly as described nearly 2,000 years ago.
Manduria is home to an extensive wine industry, and Primitivo di Manduria is famous throughout Italy as a wine of distinction, produced from the grape stock first imported millennia ago from Greece in the areas early history. Ensure that you visit the Museo di Primitivo (19 Via F Massimo) browse the exhibits and take the opportunity offered to sample wines served with little biscuits, before electing to buy.
- Al Castello (Italian cuisine) – 16 Piazza Garibaldi, situated in the Castle of Manduria
- Osteria dei Mercanti (Casereccia) – 7, Via Sen G. Lacaita (Old Town )