Photo of Martina-Franca

Visit Martina-Franca

Martina-Franca is located in the Itria Valley 70 kilometers south of Bari and 40 kilometers west of Taranto. It is in the Apulia region in the 'heel of Italy'. Martina-Franca is a 'white town' with a wealth of Baroque architecture.

Explore Martina-Franca

Italy This Way review: Martina-Franca is a pretty hilltop village with a mix of elegant Baroque buildings, charming narrow streets and beautiful piazzas.

Martina-Franca is thought to have been established by settlers from Taranto fleeing from Saracen attacks in the 10th century. In the 14th century the Prince of Taranto gave tax privileges to the town. These 'franca' or duties led to the name of Martina-Franca.


The town grew in wealth and in the 16th century the Castelli degli Orsini was built and the town expanded around it. The whitewashed town has many elegant Baroque and rococo buildings and many have pretty wrought iron balconies decked with geraniums in the summer.

Enter the old town through the Baroque gateway, the Porta di Santo Stefano, and enter the Piazza Roma which is home to the huge Palazzo Ducale.

The Palazzo Ducale is built over the remains of the Orsini castle and was inhabited by the Dukes of Caracciolo family. It is richly decorated with 18th century Arcadian murals covering many of the walls and ceilings.

Tha palace is now the town hall and a museum and some of the rooms are open to visitors and decorated with period pieces. The palace is open most days though the times vary according to the day.

The museum is dedicated to the nearby Bosco delle Pianelle park.


Across the square the Via Vittorio Emanuele leads to the heart of the old town and the Piazza Plebiscito with its Chiesa di San Martino which has an impressive Baroque facade. It was built in the 18th century on the site of an earlier church of which the campanile still survives.

Next to here the Piazza Maria Immacolata, also known as the Piazza dei Portici and it is home to pretty curved buildings and arched porticoes in an attractive Baroque style. It has a number of restaurants around its edges making it a great place to sit for lunch and enjoy the atmosphere.

Next head to the old Lama district in the lower part of town. This was once the poorest part of town but its simple white houses with their traditional pointed roofs are very attractive and this is one of the most charming parts of town.

Every summer since 1975 Martina-Franca has hosted a summer opera festival which takes place from mid July to early August. The Festival della Valle d'Itria takes place in several venues in the town including the Palazzo Ducale, the Teatro Paolo Grassi and various masserias (fortified farms) in the area.


Attractions nearby

The countryside around Martina-Franca is a lovely mixture of vines and olive groves and dotted around are traditional 'trulli' with their conical roofs and masserias which are fortified farmhouses which have a Spanish-hacienda style with lovely inner courtyards. Both are a style particular to the Apulia region.

Martina-Franca is close to the village of Alberobello with its iconic trulli. It is definitely a village not to be missed.

Locorotondo is one of the "most beautiful villages of Italy" and a treat to explore.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Puglia guide.

See also: 

Photos of Martina-Franca

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Map of Martina-Franca and places to visit


Martina-Franca places to visit



Alberobello is a beautiful little town full of incredible buildings called trulli with cone-shaped roofs

Alberobello guide


Sitting on the edge of the sea, Taranto's impressive castle dominates the old town.

Taranto guide


Not to be missed! Locorotondo is one of the 'most beautiful villages of Italy'.

Locorotondo guide


In Metaponto Archaeological Park and museum you can see Greek temples and artefacts from the 6th century BC

Metaponto guide


Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its fascinating troglodyte centre in the Sassi-di-Matera area.

Matera guide


Monopoli is a coastal town with a pretty harbour and a pleasant old town.

Monopoli guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Puglia