Martina Franca

Martina Franca is a beguiling town with a dazzling mixture of medieval and Baroque architecture in the light-color local stone. Developed as a military stronghold in the 14th century, all that remains of the defensive walls are the four gates that divide the old part from the modern suburbs. Lose yourselves in the maze of twisting white alleyways, where erstwhile noble palaces jostle with ancient churches and narrow stairways leading up to homes of ordinary citizens. No longer a little-known backwater, the centro storico can be crowded with sightseers on the weekends. The positive side is that this has led to the emergence of top-quality restaurants, and you'll be spoiled for choice. Each July, the town holds the Valle D'Itria music festival (www.festivaldellavalleditria.it).

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