Let's go to know Martina Franca, a small town with an heritage yet to be discovered
Apulia is a region incredibly rich in wonderful landscapes and historical beauties. Alongside the most famous destinations, which attract tourists from Italy and the world every year, there are also some hidden treasures. One of these is the small fourteenth-century town of Martina Franca, located in the middle of the Itria Valley, in the province of Taranto.
This lively inland town has a lot to offer its visitors and also hosts a major cultural event every year.
The historic centre of Martina Franca
Made famous by the Angevin, in a territory that has actually been inhabited for millennia, Martina Franca was once a fortified town, entirely surrounded by walls. Today the fortifications no longer exist, but the Renaissance or Baroque doors that mark the entrance to the historic center are still visible and perfectly preserved.
White is the predominant color: the plaster and the pavement that covers the streets make the whole city sparkle in the sun. The maze of small streets that open from time to time on the squares animated by cafes is the ideal starting point to get to know this place, and also the opportunity to be surprised by its monuments.
You will inevitably come across picturesque views, dead ends or one of the splendid historic buildings for which Martina Franca is famous. The Palazzo Ducale, for example, close to Porta Santo Stefano, is the seat of the Town Hall but also hosts exhibitions dedicated to both peasant and contemporary art. Inside there are wonderful frescoes decorating the halls of the building which is also the seat of the Itria Valley Festival. This important summer event has been held for several decades and is dedicated to opera.
Other historic buildings, such as Palazzo Torricella, Palazzo Nardelli, Palazzo Barnaba, are in town along with a series of buildings, perhaps a little less famous but no less interesting.
Martina Franca's churches
Martina Franca owes its name to San Martino, to whom a beautiful Baroque church which is also the cathedral, is dedicated. The façade, with its rich sculptures, does not go unnoticed. Inside, instead, there is a majestic altar in polychrome marble and the relics of Santa Comasia and Santa Martina.
The church of Carmine also has a wonderful Baroque facade, imposing and elegant. On the other hand, the church of Sant'Antonio da Padova is more sober, located close to the homonymous square and Villa Garibaldi, a green oasis in the city center, perfect for finding some fresh during the hot summers of Puglia.Last but not least, the church of San Vito stands out from the others for its austere facade, but also because, with its seven centuries of age, it is probably the oldest in town.
The severe Apulia's landscape is in these expanses of giant olive trees, in these endless carpets of low vines, which stand upright by themselves. And there is no less charm, for those who know how to feel it, in this elementary landscape, than in the menhirs, dolmens, trulli.
Martina Franca's surroundings
If you are curious to explore the Itria Valley, by car, by bike or by bus, visit the other lovely villages that characterize this region. The nature of this sometimes rugged and wild area is equally fascinating.
Alberobello, a small town which is also UNESCO heritage, is just over 15 km from Martina Franca. It is famous for its trulli, the houses with the typical cone roof. Some trulli can also be found in the countryside surrounding Martina Franca itself. Just 6 km away, however, there is a fairytale place. It's the small, charming village called Locorotondo, clinging to the slopes of a hill.
Apulia's countryside is awesome, with the blue sky overlooking the olive groves and the neverending vineyards. Martina Franca's sorrounding are no different, but if you fancy a walk in the greenery, sheltered from the scorching sun, visit Bosco delle Pianelle. With its dense vegetation it guarantees shade and coolness.
Why should you visit Martina Franca?