Martina Franca is a relatively large, historic settlement in the Taranto province of Puglia. Bordering Bari and not far from Brindisi, Martina Franca has a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants. The town is the third that is situated in the Valle d’ Itria, with relative close proximity to Locorotondo and Alberobello. Visitors of Puglia’s central, alluringly resplendent beauty spots often choose Martina Franco as a climactic end to the historic, listed and protected towns around the ‘Valle d’ Itria’ area.
Under forty minutes away from the stunningly chic, sympathetically-built Borgo Egnazia resort, the municipality of Martina Franca is a must-see for the Apulian roamer of reconnaissance. Second only in size to Taranto itself, both travel guides and history books of the past are overwhelmed with wonder and admiration of this startlingly ornate old town.
The moniker, Martina Franca, represents the town’s patron saint, St. Martin, and images of his legend are found on many of the town’s churches. The light stone buildings, winding alleys and extravagant, ornate decoration makes Martina Franca an essential stop-off for Puglian exploration. Photographers, both amateur and professional, unite in the ancient town centre where the undeniably photogenic, baroque culminations of historic buildings stand tall and decadently proud.
Regardless of personal taste, the ‘old town’ centre or, the ‘centro storico’ cannot be described as understated, nor fail to impress the most modern of minimalists. Visitors enter the ‘centro storico’ open-mouthed, sun-kissed and blessed by the saints, strutting through the town’s grand archway, named the ‘Arco di Sant’ or the ‘Porto Santo Stefano’. These ostentatious gates lead to an open piazza area dominated by the stately, beautiful civic town hall building, the ‘Palazzo Ducale’. The grand building has stood since 1668, once home to the dukes and noble men of golden years and a flourishing past. It is now used daily by the people and admirers of Martina Franca as a rather sublime library and tourist office.
Wandering around Wonderland – The Historic ‘Lama’
The ‘Lama’ area forms the oldest part of Martina Franca, and many visitors choose to roam without a guide book or a map. It would be wise to keep looking around, both up and ahead to fully ingest and consume the southern Italian warmth and romantic atmosphere of the ancestral town. With a classical mix of pale stone buildings, the sheer spectrum of colonial and religious embellishment upon each doorway, path and corner is truly prodigious. Alongside the grand baroque town houses and palaces, are the many regionally-authentic pointed ‘cummerse’ and ‘trulli’, recognised respectively by their pointed and cone shaped rafters and spires. The Lama seems to squash every inch of stone and gable available with chaotic perfection. Beyond the greenery and endless balconies with billowing laundry and chattering, is a conflicting backdrop of fading palaces, statues, with saintly images and omnipresent stone cherubs cherishing your every move.
Clearly suited to the romantic, whimsical visitor, Martina Franca also holds an annual classical opera festival, or the ‘Festival della Valle d’Itria’, each July. This unmissable event runs through to August, and further orchestral concerts are held in St Martin’s Church as well as the Palazzo Ducale. For the serious opera enthusiast, this yearly celebration will transfix the starry-eyed music lover and Italian dreamer in us all.
Excursions to Martina Franca are offered conveniently by the Borgo Egnazia resort, upon request and organised offers at the resort’s main reception, or alternatively the town can be easily reached by rail or hire car, depending on how much one might wish to pack in to one day of exploration in and around the Valle d’Itria’s towns and villages. There are many travel guides that also feature the chance to visit the outskirts of town, many leading to the famous grand farming-estates known as ‘Masserie’. Considering the wealth of sights, sounds and cuisine available on every corner, guests already sampling the Borgo Egnazia creature comforts may wish to immerse themselves fully in the unforgettable, stunning surroundings of this historically exquisite Apulian town.
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Bari’s Sublime Provincial Village with Panoramic Views of the Valle d’Itria
Just 20 km from the Borgo Egnazia resort and a short trip away from neighbouring Alberobello, the town of Locorotando is circular in structure, with ancient, surrounding and intact town walls and a view of the Valle d’Itria that one should never forget.
Taking a closer look at the Puglia provinces, and the borders of Bari and Taranto, three of Puglia’s most beautiful towns are often visited together due to their close proximity. Situated between Alberobello and Martina Franca, the town of Locorotondo has officially been named as one of the ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’, or, one of the ‘most beautiful villages in Italy’. Scattered around the Locorotondo circle are a number of ‘trulli’ dwellings, found in abundance in the nearby town of Alberobello.
This triangular road trip of this region is named the Valle d’ Itria, and it is famed for its lush green stretch of natural and agricultural vegetation; amongst this, the picturesque, winding streets, trulli and cummerse architecture, and copious vineyards. Locorotondo itself, resides in the province of Bari, and although most visitors choose to stay in the larger towns such as Alberobello or Martina Franco, the village is an exceptionally beautiful place to stop-by for an afternoon when travelling around the Valle d’Itria.
Historically, Locorotondo is famed for its beauty, wine production and whitewashed reflective buildings, and this particular area composes a mix of historical buildings, in both era, style and international interest. Aside from the aforementioned trulli, Locorotondo is particularly noted for the houses and apartments with piked gable roofing, most commonly found in the narrowly packed town centre, or the ‘centro storico’. These houses are known as ‘cummerse’, and the tight streets are littered with well-kept balconies overflowing with flowers and trailing plants that simply seem to embellish and illuminate the white stone exteriors, captivating endless visitors with spiral staircases, winding streets and grand doorways.
A house proud, religious village, there are also many churches to explore, along with a real mixture of fading, decadent, baroque archways. These unrestrained and once lavish structures provide a stunningly beautiful, disjointed juxtaposition of Italian styles when mixed with the quaint formations of trulli and packed-in apartments, ‘cummerse’ homes and terracotta pot plants.
For the able and determined walker, the trail up to the village top will entrust you to a panoramic view of the entire Valle d’Itria, giving the viewer a real treat of Puglia, Bari and the greenest part of Italy’s southern peninsula. The scenic tapestry of vineyards, fields of wheat and endless groves of olive trees amongst the unusual buildings are, by all accounts, worth every step of the climb. Complimenting your journey will be, if required, fantastic coffee and enticing snack shops available at every corner and steep incline. For the thirstily-inclined view seekers, the options to recharge some batteries wherever their needs see fit are abundant.
An obviously proud village, the history of white wine production in the evening may entice the day tripper to stay an evening in a rented trullo or cummerse to properly sample the local grape, although Borgo Egnazia is situated so locally this is not, practically speaking, even necessary. White, slightly sparkling and readily available at every local establishment, the main wine producer in town is the Cantina Socile del Locorotondo. The main headquarters of the local wine tasting, buying and distribution neighbour the main railway station. When staying with the Borgo Egnazia resort, wether in the Hotel, the villas or ‘Il Borgo’, combined excursion experiences are encouraged and organised to tailor-make your holiday. Borgo Egnazia’s excursions to and from the sumptuous hotel resort ensure a convenient day of transportation around the nearby historical places of interest may be combined with trip to Martina Franca and Alberobello, both nearby and visible from the stunning town-top view of the Valle d’Itria.
The stunning surroundings of ‘the round place’ is the perfect destination for short excursions; harnessing the lush, rich, essence of Bari’s wine producing landscape and culture with stunning views. Locorotondo is a must see, a literal taste of the local Apuilan way of life without tourist saturation. The luxury of the Borgo Egnazia resort when one returns for another night’s deserved rest can only compliment this dream-land, providing the idyllic base for your pilgrimage of the provinces of Puglia.
Alberobello is situated in the Bari Province of Puglia. Positioned in the neighbouring province of Brindisi, Borgo Egnazia is approximately twenty kilometres way and an obvious, recommended excursion to experience a change of scenery.
‘Il Borgo’, Borgo Egnazia’s sublime vacation village has been built with a luxurious nod to traditional Apulian villages, and it presents many a stunning replication of many stylistic, interior and exterior architectural features of the region’s historical towns, including the renowned UNESCO world heritage town of Alberobello, who’s calcareous sedimentary building blocks were first mentioned in record books dating back from the early 16th century. Halfway between the towns of Bari and Brindisi, the town of Alberobello sat, dry stoned, existing unofficially for nearly two hundred years due to the lack of missing mortar used in finalising the buildings for Lords to escape increased land taxation.
Alberobello is famous for its strange dwellings and buildings, collectively named ‘trulli’ or, singularly, a ‘trullo’. The tourism in Puglia has seen a great amount of regeneration and upkeep of these buildings, becoming a must see fixture on Puglia travel itineraries, and a novel, pretty way to spend a day in the vastly diverse Puglia region.
A ‘trullo’, historically, was built from local limestone, white washed, square shaped and cut without mortar, topped with a distinctively conical roof. These were and are, usually topped with a cross or a spire. The spires themselves were, in a residential trullo, a status symbol of their own – the more decorative or elaborate, the ‘better’ the craftsman, builder or owner responsible.
The origins of the trullo were less status based – the opposite – in fact, in that their beginnings were simple stone versions that were used as ancient store sheds amongst the vast lines and fields of olive groves. Their origins and their construction were a canny and greedy way for land-owners to house temporary dwellings for local workers. The local lord, Count Acquaviva, employed extremely poor workers to clear woodland and and cultivate the olive production in the area. As the dwellings were able to be dismantled quickly, it was possible to dodge taxation and settlement laws whilst this work took place. It took until 1797 for the trulli to be formerly recognised and for Alberobello to become an official town.
The main tourist area of Alberobello is ‘Rione Monti’, an oblique street containing relatively modern structures. It is scattered with museums and full to the brim with kitsch, trulli-shaped souvenirs, pens, ornaments and snowstorms amongst other gimmicky nick-nacks, however, this is all part of the town’s charm and prices remain highly competitive due to the tourist trap that relies entirely upon the town’s charmed visitors. There is an area on the outskirts that holds between one and two thousand original trulli dwellings, with a number even available to wander inside, whilst the exteriors vary slightly with every eye’s turn. Some trulli behold multiple conical roof-tops and spires – an interesting, pretty sight – the familiar white washed stone adorned with bright hibiscus and flourishing olive trees trailing up and down the surreal, hobbit-reminiscent streets.
In essence, this is a sweet, novel place to spend a day, discovering the history of architectural nuances of Apulia whilst still very close to your dwellings at the luxurious Borgo Egnazia. Being so distinctive and famed, and due to world heritage protection and funding to retain these sites of historical interest means it is now possible to visit and wander around the listed trulli when visiting this alluringly, architecturally-historical town.
Perhaps combining your visit to Alberobello with other nearby Apulian towns, the staff at Borgo Egnazia are able to offer excursions that combine visits to ‘Locorotondo’ and ‘Martina Franca’, or indeed help you to realise your own sense of adventure by assisting you with advice with nearby places to roam and in the hiring of a vehicle. Borgo Egnazia provides a stunning and welcoming base to return to in the evening of each Apulian adventure.
Approximately ninety minutes away from the stunning Borgo Egnazia resort, the curious explorer of Apulia must consider the wealth of excursions available, either organised by the hospitable and efficient resort staff, or, for the footloose and unfettered, by rail or hire car. The small, perfectly-formed beaches and beautifully clear seas of Otranto provide a particularly memorable destination that combines the best of provincial Lecce’s culture, offering sun-bleached Southern Italian spirit and adventure in abundance.
Otranto is situated in the southern province of Lecce, or specifically, where locals describe ‘Salento’ – Italy’s most recognisable peninsula – the very tip – in fact. Overlooking the Adriatic sea, the small port town has remained an important place of connection by sea in Puglia’s long and colourful, historically dominated past. It is possible to see the coast of Albania when the warm, coastal breeze and haze diminishes for long enough – if one isn’t already distracted by the immediate, close-range beauty of this Adriatic seaside town.
Otranto’s appeal and fame within both Puglia’s history and attracting locals and tourists – both over the years to this very day – are easy to recognise. Reading, relaxing, whilst supping iced-cold drinks or gelato that soothe the warm, sun-drenched bones will always compliment this perfect backdrop; the sound of gentle waves and the small of salty air to create those life-affirming, flashbulb memories to dream of in the years to come.
Otranto’s large place of historical interest is widely regards as the town’s Cathedral, featuring a large scale mosaic from the 12th Century. Crafted by a monk named Pantaloene, the pictures within the work depict Noah’s Ark, Alexander the Great and even pagan mythological characters such as King Arthur. The nearby Museo Diocesano exhibits even earlier fragments of Puglia’s history, including 4th and 5th Century mosaic-like design.
Otranto’s significant need for defence in former war-torn eras is symbolised by the 15th century Castle of Otranto, or “Castello Aragonese”, which stands firmly as a reminder of the battles and hardships faced by the Puglia ports back in the middle ages. The Castle is open for public viewing, as is the Cathedral. Whether hoping for an exploration of the back streets and lanes, or a light lunch set high above the walls with scenery stretching over the harbour, all the cafes and restaurants are beautifully enclosed by ancient walls surrounding the outskirts of the old town.
If beaches are your raison d’être, both Otranto beach and its surrounding coastlines can provide a wealth of sun-worshipping and bathing hotspots. The ‘Baia de Turchi’ and ‘Laghi Alimini’ are both easy shuttle rides away from Otranto town that consist of larger, predominantly sandy lake-side beaches, whilst towards the south of the town, the same service can shuttle the beach bags of the curious, the inquisitors, the photographers, divers and snorkelers alike, to further explore the strikingly beautiful coves of Porto Badisco. In peak season Otranto’s beach becomes very busy, and the hustle and bustle of people watching itself can become an addictive activity.
Perhaps suited to the curious, romantic couple with impulsive spirits or a sense of adventure, Otranto is highly recommended amongst visitors to the Borgo Engazia resort. With excursions available by enquiring at the reception, or if your party wish to explore independently, a wanderlust roam of this remarkable area would never be misguided. It is worth mentioning that in 2012, Conde Nast Traveller voted southern Puglia within the top 20 of the most beautiful places in the entire world for tourists to visit.
Whether you hire a tour guide, or some chic, nippy, Fiat 500 to hotfoot it around the area yourself, Otranto is a town of famous natural beauty, charm and magnetism, and attracts both Italians and tourists alike.
If you’re looking for a luxury 5 star resort in Italy then look no further than the Borgo Egnazia Resort.
Located in the Puglia area of Italy and with the most stunning beach setting and a fabulous choice of hotels or villas the Borgo Egnazia is a truly 5 star Italian holiday resort. Ideal for families and romantic couples alike there are several stunning restaurants, kids club , tennis, golf and health club.
2) What time of year should i visit resort to get the best discount ?
What we say : ‘Whether you choose to stay at the fabulous townhouses or hotel you will be assured of a holiday in luxury, all you have to remember is that the townhouses will afford you your own private pool and a more space. On all bookings made for 28th February 2015 we offer a discount it’s just from 1st July – 5th Sept 2015 we offer a 10% discount and for all other stay dates a 20% discount – the choice is yours as they say.’
For more information or to book Borgo Egnazia , please contact our booking team on 014444 87 22 00 or visit our website.
The Borgo Egnazia is in the heart of Puglia Italy, in Savelletri di Fasano, a town of fishermen, old ladies who embroider in front of their small white houses, and colourful clothes lines, a few steps away from the Adriatic coast with Trulli, dry-stone walls, vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see. It is truly breath-taking and has a style like no other. A privately owned resort based upon the vision of one man – it is simply unique. With luxury hotel rooms and suites, villas and townhouses with private or communal pools – there are endless possibilities on which to base your stay and all are magnificent. Add to that their renowned Vair Spa, countless gourmet restaurants, San Domenico Golf Course, Kids Clubs and cooking school and you can start to see why so many guests return year after year. Quite simply there is nowhere on earth quite like it.