Nature, Messapian heritage and wine culture
From a Salina to Primitivo wine, a very special tour on the Ionian sea
I suggest an itinerary in a very interesting area event if it's still off the beaten path of tourism. The tour will start at the Salina dei Monaci (Monk's Salt Marsh): a natural park located near (only a few meters of dunes divide the salt marsh from the wide sandy beach) the seaside on the Ionian sea. For centuries there has been the salt extraction here and there are still some ruins of the ancient deposit and of a small church.
Myrtle, ceramics and pink flamingos
The natural park hosts several interesting 'botanical and faunal species: halophytic plants, Mediterranean maquis (myrtle, mastic tree, strawberry tree, thymus), some birds (pink flamingos, dwarf heron, black-winged Stilt, kingfisher). In spring there are also some local orchids. Here it's possible to enjoy the bird watching of the pink flamingos and the healthy fresh air coming from the seaside. The coastal watching tower of Torre Colimena (about 1 km far from the Salina dei Monaci; it's suggested to book the free of charge visit the day before) is one of the most interesting and well restored coastal watching tower of Apulia.
Those watchtowers have been built during the Spanish domination against Turkish pirates. Together with the masserie (typical farmhouses) and castles they were part of a military defense system.
Wine tasting & Archeological site
During the visit of the tower it's possible to see the tower architecture and a museum of old typical pottery used to store wine.
The tour will continue with the visit to the historic city center of Manduria where, after a lunch in a typical trattoria, it's possible to visit the Archeological Museum (with pottery, jewels and funeral objects found in the tombs of the Archeological site), some historic buildings (Palazzo Imperiali) church (St. Francis, Scuole Pie), the Giudecca (Jewish area) and the small Sinagogue, the Romanesque style Mother Church and its bell tower, etc.
Culture and tradition in Manduria is also synonymous of wine, in particular its world famous DOC Primitivo di Manduria. At about 1 km far from the city center there is one of the most renowned winery in Manduria with the interesting demo-etno- anthropological Museum of the Primitivo Wine Culture where it's possible to understand the history of wine in Manduria, its tradition and identity.
The guided visit of the museum will finish with a wine tasting at the winery where we will enjoy the renowned wines of Salento and, in particular, the most traditional red ones: Primitivo di Manduria (the dry and the sweet one: one of the few Italian wine that can be paired to dark chocolate), Negramaro, Salice Salentino. In Salento there is also an old and interesting tradition of rosè wines and the white wines (also the sparking ones) are improving a lot in the last years.
Oria: a Swabian Castle
From Manduria we will move to the medieval hamlet of Oria (about 10 km far).
During the visit we will breath the scent of myths and legends about Oria, we will enjoy a wonderful panorama overlooking the countryside and the pictoresque white houses of this hamlet. In particular we will visit the ancient entrance doors of the hamlet, the Jewish area, the Cathedral, the exteriors of the bishop palace, the crypt with the mummies.
We will see also the Swabian castle of Frederick II (at the moment it's only possible to see the exterior of the castle), some churches and historic palaces with Barocco and Renaissance style. The tour will finish in Piazza Manfredi: a small lively square with historic palaces, restaurants, bar, pubs.
Our Insider is Alessandro
I'm Alessandro and first of all I'm a traveler (for leisure and work) and I like to know foreign countries and their culture, customs, food. I have been working in tourism for about 15 years in different sectors: tour operator, MICE (meeting, incentive, congress and event), team building and leisure activities, destination marketing, professional training. I'm a licensed tourist guide in Apulia region and a licensed tour leader for the whole Italy. I'm passionate about my region and I like to share our wonderfull attractions and culture with other people in a blog.
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