Martina Franca - the capital of the Valle d'Itria
The highest town in Puglia with a lovely historic centre. Set in the middle of the green Valle d'Itria, the whitewashed walls, winding alleys amd vast baroque structures means it is an incredibly photogenic town.
The main entrance is through the Porto Santo Stefano, a grand historic gateway, with three others still in existence from the days of being a walled town in the 19th century. The crowds tend to head towards the delightful Basilica di San Martino, a sand coloured 17th century Baroque facade which looks stunning, especially when lit up at night. The oldest part of the town is called Lama, where you can find the pointed cones of the Trulli, however they are now starting to show their age and do not compare with the beautiful dwellings found in neighbouring Alberobello.
The elegant main piazza is also known as Piazza dei Portici. Its graceful curved buildings decked out in porticoes gives the piazza lovely feel, and makes it a great place to sit at an outdoor cafe and enjoy the day. In the summer, normally around the end of July beginning of August, Martina Franca is the base for an annual Festival della Valle d'Itria, a wonderful opera and classical music concert which only adds to the romantic appeal of the town.
For everyday food, drink and take-aways, we recommend just outside the centre, there are some excellent restaurants including a couple under the arches in Piazza Immacolata. A must try or buy before leaving is some capocollo, a kind of cured ham that is the pride of the locals.
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