Martina Franca

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Martina Franca
coat of arms
Martina Franca (Italy)
Martina Franca
Country Italy
region Apulia
province Tarent  (TA)
Coordinates 40 ° 42 ′  N , 17 ° 20 ′  E Coordinates: 40 ° 42 ′ 0 ″  N , 17 ° 20 ′ 0 ″  E
height 431  m slm
surface 295 km²
Residents 48,269 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density 164 inhabitants / km²
Post Code 74015
prefix 080
ISTAT number 073013
Popular name Martinesi
Patron saint San Martino and Santa Comasia
Website Martina Franca

Martina Franca (or just: Martina) is an Italian municipality with 48,269 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019) in the province of Taranto .

Geographical location

Martina Franca is located in the southeast of the Murgia , about 30 km from Taranto - exactly in the middle between the Ionian and Adriatic shores of Apulia . The neighboring municipalities are: Alberobello ( BA ), Ceglie Messapica ( BR ), Cisternino ( BR ), Crispiano , Grottaglie , Locorotondo ( BA ), Massafra , Mottola , Ostuni ( BR ) and Villa Castelli ( BR ).


Relief of St. Martin on horseback above the cathedral portal

According to local historical research, the area around what is now Martina Franca was settled in the 10th century by refugees from Taranto, who hid in the forests from the Saracens .

The actual city was founded in 1300 on the orders of Prince of Taranto Philip I of Anjou . It seems as if Philip I of Taranto granted rights and tax exemptions to those who settled there, and that is why the place was called Franca (Italian: free). Martina goes back to the patron saint St. Martin (patron saint on November 11th); It is said that the saint rushed to the aid of the townspeople several times and protected them from the barbaric raids.

A wall ring and defense towers were built around the city.

After changing fiefdoms in the Kingdom of Naples , Martina Franca became a fiefdom of the Crown of Aragon after replacing the Anjou in Apulia in the second half of the 15th century . The Neapolitan noble family Caracciolo determined the economic fortunes of the city, promoted its arts and shaped its architectural style. Ferdinand I of Naples had provoked the discontent of the farm workers through a land reform that resulted in large estates ( masserie ), who under their leader Vittorio Montanaro , known as "Capo di Ferro" ("iron head", derived from his profession as a blacksmith) , Initiated a revolt in Martina Franca in 1646. The Caracciolo, however, held their ground until 1827. In the 18th century, the city experienced a heyday, which was characterized by strong growth in agriculture and livestock, but also in the quality of urban life

In 1799 the first unrest in the spirit of the Risorgimento broke out . Martina Franca has belonged to the national state of Italy since 1861, when the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ended.

coat of arms

The city coat of arms goes back to Philip I of Taranto: A white jumping horse without reins, on a blue background, above the three lilies from the coat of arms of Anjou. Olive and oak branches are attached under the coat of arms as typical representatives of the regional vegetation.


Piazza Maria Immacolata with arcades
Piazza Plebiscito with San Martino Cathedral and Palazzo dell'Università with clock tower
San Francesco d'Assisi in Piazza Mario Pagano outside the city walls
Piazza XX Settembre with Porta Santo Stefano

City structure

Martina Franca is divided into three zones: the old town, the expansion of the town outside the city walls (around 1900 ) and the new town with houses with more than three floors.

The old town

The old town of Martina Franca is - after Lecce - the second renowned baroque town in Apulia in a more subtle, less plastic-shaped version. Rather, the fine, flatter ornaments and figures on facades, window frames, consoles and cornices embody an unobtrusive, elegant variant that has become a characteristic of the local style. Churches, palaces and residential buildings in the narrow, angular streets, cul-de-sacs and hidden streets come together to form a harmonious whole.



San Martino Cathedral

The basilica, built in the 18th century under Archbishop Isidoro Chirulli on the foundations of a Romanesque predecessor, is considered a masterpiece of the local Baroque style. The Romanesque-Gothic campanile has been preserved from the previous building. The eye-catcher of the facade is the high relief of Saint Martin on horseback at the moment of the mantle division. From the interior, the main altar from 1773 made of multicolored marble with marble statues by Giuseppe Sammartino from Naples, the font from 1773 and the holy water basin (Neapolitan school) are outstanding; the sacrament chapel houses the relics of the local saint Comasia , a martyr from the 2nd to 4th centuries.

Other churches
  • San Domenico , built between 1746 and 1760, baroque church on the foundations of a Romanesque predecessor, consecrated to Saint Peter. It already shows clear Rococo accents.
  • Chiesa del Carmine (1727–1758), elegant baroque church outside the city walls with a polychrome mantle Madonna , attributed to Stefano da Putignano
  • Sant'Antonio , 15th century Franciscan church, formerly dedicated to Saint Stephen, with neoclassical facade from 1835; 18th century frescoes in the cloister.
  • San Francesco da Paola , built at the beginning of the 17th century on the foundations of a 16th century Lady Chapel, from which there is still an altarpiece in the left aisle ( Madonna delle Grazie ). At the beginning of the 17th century, Father Bonaventura Gaona, who was highly respected locally, lived in the adjacent Paulaner Convent .
  • San Francesco d'Assisi , Franciscan Church of the 17th / 18th centuries Century with eight rococo side altars in the characteristic regional style
  • San Giovanni dei Greci in original medieval architecture, but with a Baroque facade

Places / secular buildings

Palazzo Ducale
  • The representative baroque palace of the Caracciola family, the Palazzo Ducale, is located in Piazza Roma , a triangular square with palm trees and a fountain. In 1668 Duke Petracone V. Caracciolo commissioned Giovanni Andrea Carducci to build a new residence, which was never completed due to high costs. The city administration and the tourist office are housed in over 300 rooms. Some of the halls and the Capella dei Duchi were frescoed by Domenico Carella in 1771–1776 .
  • Adjacent to the cathedral extends the Piazza Plebiscito with the Palazzo dell'Università (1759–1762), the former seat of the city parliament with a clock tower; The coat of arms of the city of Martina Franca, a jumping horse, is emblazoned above one of the large rectangular windows on the first floor.
  • The semicircular Piazza Maria Immacolata has an oval arcade in which market was held every day until the 1960s.
  • Outside the city walls (only the Porta di Santo Stefano with an equestrian statue of St. Martin from the 18th century was preserved in the north of the city), the Piazza XX Settembre borders the city park ( Villa Comunale ), which was formerly part of the Paulaner Convent belonged.

More than 20 baroque aristocratic palaces from the 18th century characterize the old town of Martina Franca, especially in Via Mazzini, Via Macchiavelli and Via Cavour.

The Itria Valley and the Trulli

The Itria Valley with its trulli north of Martina is an important destination for tourists. In this area, these trulli were not built in the village as in Alberobello , but outside the city.

The area has suffered from unauthorized construction over the past twenty years. Many special features such as the mule track are no longer there. This contributed to the endangerment of the flora and, as a result, the local fauna . The local administrations did not succeed in protecting these historical structures.



Road traffic

Rail transport

The Station of Martina Franca is two rail lines operated:

air traffic

The airport of Taranto-Grottaglie "Marcello Arlotta" does not currently operate any scheduled services. The nearest airports are:


  • Domenico Carella (1721–1813), painter, died in Martina Franca
  • Giuseppe Aprile (1732–1813), composer and castrate, born and died in Martina Franca
  • Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926), actor, his father was Martinese
  • Giuseppe Chiarelli (1904–1978), lawyer; President of the Constitutional Court
  • Gioconda De Vito (1907–1994), Italian violinist , born in Martina Franca
  • Paolo Grassi (1919–1981), founder of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and director of the Teatro alla Scala
  • Richard Sinclair (* 1948), English progressive rock musician, lives in the Martina area
  • Cosimo Damiano Lanza (* 1962), pianist, harpsichordist and composer, director of the Mediterranea Music Academy in Martina Franca
  • Donato Carrisi (* 1973), writer, born in Martina Franca
  • Rosaria Console (* 1979), long-distance runner
  • Renzo Rubino (* 1988), singer and composer
  • Antonio Giovinazzi (* 1993), racing car driver, born in Martina Franca
  • Leo Muscato, director, born in Martina Franca

Local production

The local wine, Martina Franca DOC , is very famous and respected worldwide .

The Capocollo by Martina Franca, a typical sausage specialty, is also very well known.

Military base

Martina Franca has a base for the Italian Air Force . Until 1999, the operations center for southern Italy ( 3rd Regional Operations Center ), which was integrated into the NATO air defense system NADGE ( NATO Air Defense Ground Environment ), was housed here in underground bunkers . These management tasks were then concentrated at Combined Air Operations Center  5 in Poggio Renatico in northern Italy . The systems in Martina Franca currently have reserve status. In addition, an object protection association of the Italian Air Force is stationed here.


  • Ekkehart Rotter: Apulia . Trips to Byzantine grotto churches, Norman cathedrals, Hohenstaufen forts and baroque buildings in Lecce. (=  DuMont art travel guide ). 6th edition. Dumont Reise Verlag, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 3-7701-4314-0 .

Web links

Commons : Martina Franca  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.