Prehistoric finds in a medieval castle

There's no mistaking who founded Manfredonia, gateway to the Gargano. Manfred, son of Frederick II, set up his eponymous city in 1256, fortifying it with a stupendously preserved castle that now contains a museum of fascinating prehistoric finds. Manfredonia's developed as a bustling but low-key and noncommercial resort where the evening passeggiata is the highlight of the day.

The Castello Svevo-Aragonese is in excellent shape, with Manfred's rectangular Swabian fortress intact in the center, neatly surrounded by the later Angevin fortifications, and a 16th-century bastion tacked on to one corner. It houses the Museo (tel. +39-0884-587-838;, centered around 5th- and 4th-century BC Daunian funerary steles, semi-anthropomorphic gravestones, many with pointy proto-heads sticking up and arms etched on folded across the "belly." Most are incised with intricate designs as if wearing rich robes, and a few are carved with wonderfully figurative scenes: beak-nosed, ponytailed people in procession, men in sailboats with punk hairdos, or a man and woman bidding adieu as he departs for the afterlife. The castle and museum are open daily 8:30am to 1pm and 3:30 to 7pm (summers also Friday and Saturday evenings 8:30 to 11:30pm). It's closed the first and last Monday of the month. (Adm: €2.50) Free guided tours in English are available upon reservation at tel. +39-0338-221-7066.

Manfredonia has a fine beach, but that of its sister community Siponto just to the south is one of the best—and most crowded—stretches of sand in the Gargano.

Hotels in Manfredonia

Hotel GarganoIt's your typical 1970s beach hotel, with Black Watch–plaid carpets but an otherwise white-and-blue Mediterranean color scheme and 47 accommodations whose balconies overlook the round salt water pool and across the palm-lined street to the sea. The hotel hasn't seen a renovation for almost 30 years, so the lacquer is chipping along the modular furnishings' edges. There are wide-open lobby spaces and lots of terrace-edge seating to sip drinks. It's a ten-minute seaside stroll from the castle and passeggiata on Corso Manfredi, and the hotel restaurant for once isn't half bad.
Viale Beccarini 2, Manfredonia (FG); tel. +39-0884-587-621;
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Where to eat in Manfredonia

Coppolarossa – The "Red Cap" is a mix of youthful, casual atmosphere, a slightly old-fashioned decor, and decidedly traditional cooking. Service by the red-vested waiters in shorts or jeans can be pretty perfunctory and off-handed, which is odd since without a printed menu they have to recite the dishes of the day. Be sure to load up at the do-it-yourself antipasto spread laden with seafood and vegetable goodies. Sample the house dish troccoli ai frutti di mare, or the orecchiette rucola e scampi (with arugula and shrimp; they'll do it up with tomato sauce if you're all fished out). Secondi include a veal bistecca or a large grigliata di pesce (a grill of giant prawns, local fishes, and tiny squid).
Via dei Celestini 13; tel. +39-0884-582-522;;No credit cards. Closed Mon and 10 days in late June

Tips & links

Useful links & resources

Tourist info:
The tourist office is upstairs at Corso Manfredi 26
tel. +39-0884-581-998, fax 0884-583-295).
Open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm.

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Tourist info:
The tourist office is upstairs at Corso Manfredi 26
tel. +39-0884-581-998, fax 0884-583-295).
Open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm.

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