Martina Franca, Province of Taranto, Puglia
The town rises on the hill of San Martino, the highest in the Southern Murge hills, between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The centre has beautiful palaces, built since late 17th century in the Baroque style, and winding, narrow medieval alleys, which suddenly open onto the countryside, a landscape interspersed of white "trulli" constructions.
- Altitude: 431 m a.s.l
- Population: about 50,000 inhabitants
- Zip/postal code: 74015
- Phone Area Code: 080
- Patron Saint: St. Martino, celebrated on 11 November, St. Comasia in early July
- Frazioni & Localities: Capitolo, Cappuccini, Carpari, Chiancaro, Galante, Gemma, Lamia Vecchia, Ortolini, Pergolo, Pianelle, Raschia Zappa, San Paolo, Sisto, Specchia Tarantina, Trasconi Chianconi -- Official Website: www.comune.martina-franca.ta.it.
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Martina Franca was founded in the 10th century AD by refugees from Taranto, escaping from Saracen raids. In 1300 Filippo I Anjou, prince of Taranto, gave the feudal rights on the town to Pietro del Tocco, and granted rights and franchise to anyone who would settle in the new town, from which the name "Franca" was derived, Martina coming from the patron saint after whom the hill and church of San Martino were dedicated. In the 15th century Apulia came under the Aragonese and Martina Franca became a fiefdom of the Caracciolo family from Naples who built the Palace Ducale.
What to see
- The Palazzo Ducale, built in 1688 with a high baroque façade and beautifully decorated with iron wrought railings. The rooms inside were decorated by Domenico Canella between 1771 and 1776 with mythological, biblical and arcadic scenes.
- The Church of San Martino, built in the Baroque period on a previous Romanesque church, whose bell tower of the 15th century is still extant.
- The Chiesa del Carmine, outside the walls, built in 1730, with beautiful works inside, and a remarkable dome.
- The Valle d'Itria, a wide Karst basin intensely cultivated with vineyards, extending from Martina Franca to Locorotondo, with white spots of Trulli buildings as far as the eye goes.
- In summer the annual Festival della Valle d'Itria, an opera festival.
- 4-11 July, patron feast of St. Martin and St Comasia.