MANDURIA

A few kilometres away from Taranto, one can visit Manduria, a City which was founded by the Messapians before the arrival of the Greek colonies in Puglia.
There have been finds, on its territory, which testify to settlements from Neolithic times, in the Barraco, Monte Maliano and Li Castelli areas; from the Bronze Age in the Strazzati district and the Iron Age once again in the Li Castelli and Manduria districts.

Its name seems to be derived from the term “mando” meaning horse fence. The Messapians were in fact among the most able cavaliers existing in pre Roman Italy.
After the fist period of peaceful co-habitation with the powerful Greek-Doric colony of Taranto, a clash became inevitable and was carried out in the battles that occurred over two centuries, beginning during the 6th Century BC. The alternating outcomes saw the Messapians defeated in 500 and 460 BC and as victors in 473 BC.
During the 4th Century, the clash heightened with the entrance of Greek leaders, including Archimedes III of Sparta, who died in Manduria in 338 BC.
The scene changed with the advancement of the Romans in Southern Italy, who threatened the existence of both Taranto and Messapian centres, and who managed to agree with these old adversaries to become allies against Rome, under the command of King Pirro of Epiro (285-275 BC). His proverbial victories did nothing else but delay Roman domination for a few years in the region, which began around 265 BC.
With the arrival of Hannibal in Southern Italy, Manduria passed over to the Carthaginians. The price it paid was siege, destruction and the deportation of 4000 inhabitants in 212 BC; the work of the fifth Roman consul, Fabio Massimo.
The Messapians disappeared for ever in history around 90 AD, when, in a last desperate attempt for survival, were part of the Civil War clashes.
From the Imperial period to that relative to its decadence, not much is known. Maybe Manduria found it difficult to restart after its destruction during 212 BC.
It was once again destroyed by the Ostrogoth King Totila in 547, the period during the Greek-Gothic War (535-553), which saw an Ostrogoth and Byzantine opposition.
In 977, it was further destroyed by the Saracens and resurrected in 1090 by the name of Casalnuovo, under the wishes of Ruggiero the Norman.
The Castle and the Cathedral were built under the Normans and their successors, the Swabians.
The succession to power of the Angioini (1268) determined Manduria as a feudatory, as with many other centres in the region, and its assignment to some powerful families, among which, the Balzo Orsini, the Bonifacio and the Imperiali, who kept it until the abolition of feudatory rights.
The City regained its ancient name in 1789, and shortly after lived the Renaissance experience enthusiastically, leading it into the formation of the Reign of Italy in 1861.
Just outside the central habitation, its megalithic walls remain as visible testimony of its foundation and the Messapian era.
One can also visit the following in the City: the Romanesque Cathedral, the characteristic Medieval ghetto (12th Century and the Castle. There are numerous churches, among which we can mention: S. Pietro Mandurino, S. Angelo (1587), S. Cosimo and Santa Lucia, 1540).
Another symbol of the City is the Pliniana Fountain, so called because of being quoted in the Naturilis Historia by Plinio the Old.
One must not forget to order a glass of red wine in Manduria, which is produced here and is a true flag of the City throughout the world, namely Primitivo of Manduria.

MANDURIA
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Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy

 

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