2015 – Italy – Old Town Manduria, Fresh Fish Lunch

We started our day in the oldest part of Manduria visiting an archeological site. We were told that this was one of the top 10 archeological sites in Italy and the biggest in the Puglia region.

Such fascinating information – for instance, we went down into a cave that was built/existed between the 4th and 8th century BC. There was a well in this cave and legend has it that the water in the well had healing properties. The magical thing is that no matter how much water was added by rain or taken out of the well by people, the level of water remained the same.  

When we emerged from the well, we were greeted by white butterflies feeding on the plants around. So pretty to see them flying around.

The town of Manduria was originally protected by 3 walls. Since the men were at war, the women were responsible for making the stones for the city walls. They were huge, about 3 feet square. I can’t imagine how heavy they were or how hard they were to make.  Today we saw two of the walls and actually walked between what was left of them. This site was only discovered in the 1950’s so there is much yet to be discovered.

Crypts in the ancient ruins. It would have been so easy to bump Dick into one of these but we’re only 1/2 way through our trip and I still need someone to help with the luggage.

Ancient tombs date back to 7th century BC. Some were family size, some for babies, etc. So far they have found 1,089 tombs.   At the end of the main tour we went to the oldest church of St. Joseph that was a short drive away from the archeological grounds. It was very small. We walked downstairs (oh that was fun – on ancient steps that were not even in height or depth) and there were frescos galore. Every wall was painted with scenes or saints. The monks painted these pictures and now they are trying to figure out how many layers of frescoes there are – you could see on some walls where it was chipped, multiple paintings behind on the same wall. Okay, enough history (although I could go on for pages about these ruins). The day was heating up so we headed for the sea.

Today with the winds from Sirocco, the sea had waves. You were pushed around a bit when you went in the water. It was still refreshing and you could get a workout just walking out and trying to stand up and walking back in.  

 

Then this man emerges from the sea. It was Antimo’s cousin, of course! He had been fishing in the sea for our lunch. I couldn’t believe it! In seas that are choppy like they were today, it is very hard to fish like he did. He just swims out and spears the fish, going under water for 2 minutes sometimes. Amazing! He and his wife Grazania put together a banquet of food for us. Just imagine, catching the fish, cleaning them, putting them in the outside oven and eating them, all without about 2 hours.

It was a privilege to see how they clean the fish and prepare them for cooking. Grazania put each fish in foil, stuffed with a few parsley leaves, drizzle of olive oil and salt. Then wrapped them up and put them in the oven outside. I can’t describe how good it tasted. 

After appetizers we were served a pasta dish with red sauce and octopus that Massimo caught yesterday. Melt in your mouth good. Then the fish was done cooking and served. Check out the picture of my fish. (These Italians cook their fish with the heads on. In fact, some consider the head a delicacy. When I saw the head of my fish I freaked out just a little bit. Check out those teeth. And there was actually another smaller set of teeth behind them. These were small fish compared to what Massimo usually catches.) Salad at the end of the meal to digest, with fruit and a tasty half frozen cake. And the finish is espresso and limoncello. This lunch only took 3 hours to eat. It was 5:00 pm when we left.   

On the way back to our BNB Antimo stopped at an ancient olive field. There was a guard at the gate and unbeknownst to us there was apparently some unlawful things going on in the field. So after we took a few pictures, we were scooted out. The trees were between 300-700 years old.   Another fabulous day created by Antimo/Voomago!   

Antimo inside the ancient olive tree about 700 years old.

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