Martina Franca, a hilltop town and trulli

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October 11th 2016
Published: October 12th 2016
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A new monumentA new monumentA new monument

After weeks of looking at old monuments, churches and museums, it was nice to see a new monument. This one was to remember all workers injured on the job.
When we arrived in Martina Franca our host told us he would pick us up at the train station. He described himself as “an ugly guy with a bad shave”. He was far from ugly but he did have quite a beard. He was very helpful in getting us oriented to the old city. Dianne had done her homework well and our B&B was located in an excellent position for visiting the old city.

We set out on our first walkabout to orient ourselves with the old city. We came to St Francis’s Church where it appeared there was a wedding about to take place. We decided to hang around to see the bride. While waiting, we noticed a group of adults in what appeared to be Scout uniforms. Turned out it was a regional training session for leaders. The young woman who told us about it said 'they get together and act like children”. I’ve been to that kind of session and that described them perfectly. They even gave us coffee and cake.

Small world

The next morning at breakfast we were talking with another couple staying at our B&B. Turned out they had been on the
Centre of Old Martina FrancaCentre of Old Martina FrancaCentre of Old Martina Franca

Across one piazza through another and onto the Cathedral. A neat spot to people watch.
same bus we had in Otranto when the train was cancelled.

Sunday was Church and the usual walking around to see what the city had to offer. We passed a restaurant several times as we tried to figure out the winding streets. Figuring this was an omen, we went back there for dinner. The bruschetta antipasto was huge and delicious. We were a bit nervous about how big our pizza would be but it was fine (and delicious). The couple at the next table asked us what we had ordered because it looked so good (ham and mozzarella). They ordered a salad to start and Dianne said when the server brought it their eyes bugged out. It was huge. And they said they had ordered TWO pizzas. Not sure how they managed as we had to leave before they were finished.

On our last night in Martina Franca we finally got to a restaurant we had tried several times to visit. It was either full or closed but, at last, we were in. We eat unfashionably early and had to wait almost half an hour before they even opened the door. We were the first in and made

If you don't like the same old, same old on the walls and streets, install your own greenery.
our selections. When the server brought them, she was wearing different clothes. We were so early (7:50pm) she hadn’t even had time to change after setup. It was pretty cool that night and they keep the door open so people can tell the restaurant is open. We were near the back so we were fine. The next couple that came in sat right behind us. A chap came in by himself and he almost sat at the next table but thought this was just a bit too cozy and found another place out of the draft. It was a very pleasant dinner. The next morning, we discovered that the couple behind us the night before were staying at our B&B. I guess out host recommends this place a lot.


This small hill town s a short train ride from our place. The old city is practically round and sits on top of a hill. You can see it from Martina Franca. As it is only 6.4 kilometers away, we decided to walk. Turns out there is a group that builds trails, makes maps and puts up signs that guide people like us right to the place. It
New StatueNew StatueNew Statue

This statue of St Francis of Assisi shows a slightly newer approach to the 13th century saint.
was a perfect day for it and a nice change from walking around old cities. Sure, when we got there we were walking around an old city but the hike was great and we got to see lots of the countryside.

Just as we got to the centre of the old town, Dianne spotted some musicians walking through the piazza. She went over to them to ask if there was going to be a performance. Not exactly. They were there for a funeral. Oops. After the weddings we had seen, it was an interesting, if sad, change. The views from this hill town were great. After a nice lunch sitting in the shade drinking white wine and eating product tipici, we continued our explorations which, because of the funeral, included a search for the cemetery. They are easier to spot in Italy because of the mausoleums they build. This one was no different and a great way to spend some time.

Despite the great walk to Locorotondo, we took the train home. I think we waited longer in the station that the trip back to Martina Franca took.

Dario’s private paradise

We spent a “rest” day
Floor mosaicFloor mosaicFloor mosaic

Didn't expect a boat mosaic this far from the sea.
just walking around with no specific plan and stopped at the supermercato to buy some grub. Dianne had asked out host if there was a roof top garden. Closed for the season was the explanation. But to us it was still beautiful weather so Dario took us to the roof to show us what he called his “private paradise”. The roof top terrace had lots of planters with all kinds of fruit, vegetables and herbs. He obviously has a different idea of paradise. No computers or cappuccino makers. It was a great place for lunch.


Another great town close to Martina Franca. Famous for its trulli (plural of trullo). A trullo is a (usually) round stone house with a stone roof made with loose stones and no mortar. Rumour has it the people had to make them that way because the Count who ruled the area at the time they were built could claim they weren’t real buildings and didn’t have to pay taxes to his boss. When this restriction was lifted in 1797, people could use mortar to build multi-story trulli and did so right in front of the Count’s palace, just to spite him.
A little differentA little differentA little different

We were impressed by the beard on this statue. Not impressed enough to write down who it was.

While many of the trulli in the town have been converted to B&Bs, restaurant and gift shops, it is still a neat town to walk around.

While the guide to walking trails showed us how to walk there from Martina Franca ,we decided to take the train both ways.

Train stories

It seems like a lot of our experiences involve trains. This trip was no different. On the Locorotondo trip, I was trying to pay for the trip with the pocketful of coins I had amassed. As I was counting out the coins, the ticket lady shouted “STOP” when I got to the right amount. When we asked what binario (track) the train would be on, she shouted “Non lo so! Megaphone ‘Bari’”. Since I knew Bari was the city at the end of the line, I would just wait for the announcement. In one of our first Italian classes, we had learned ‘Non lo so’ meant “I don’t know” but I had never had it used on me in real life. And luckily we asked a worker out by the tracks which train went to Bari as the megaphone never announced it!

When we went

This sundial was up on the wall by the cathedral. It shows how far south we really are and the time was right, except it was standard time. Funny they didn't know about Daylight Saving Time in "those days"
to the train station to buy our tickets for Matera, no one was in the office so we tried to figure out the automatic machine. There was a sign indicating there was a problem with the new 20 Euro bills. Hmmmmm. How do we know if ours is a new 20 or not? I didn’t want to take a chance on the machine eating my bill. A very nice lady started telling me something in rapid fire Italian. I thought she was telling me about the bills but in fact it was the ticket lady telling me to go to the window as she was just starting for the day. She was very helpful.

Last stop on the trip

We were now leaving Puglia for Matera in Basilicata, the last official stop on our 2016 European adventure. How can it top what we have seen so far? To Be Continued

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 27



There were lots of these round towers that used to be part of the city walls. Over the years a lot have been converted to dwellings and extended after the walls were replaced.
Narrow streetsNarrow streets
Narrow streets

We saw lots of really narrow streets but this one was ridiculous.
The target of our walk.The target of our walk.
The target of our walk.

Taken from a vantage point in Martina Franca, this shows Locorotondo a mere 6.4 km in the distance.
Walking TrailsWalking Trails
Walking Trails

The Valle d'Itria section of GAL (a local countryside association) has produced maps of trails and put up signs to assist travellers like us. Very helpful.
Picnic groundsPicnic grounds
Picnic grounds

The map we had showed there was a picnic ground right here. Needs a bit of work, we think.
Trulli amazingTrulli amazing
Trulli amazing

There were the first trulli we saw up close. They showed how many have decayed over the years. Not that different from old homesteads back in Canada.
Rocky soilRocky soil
Rocky soil

This field has just be prepared for something. Hard to believe anything grows in this rocky soil.
Looking for a summer place?Looking for a summer place?
Looking for a summer place?

Lots of For Sale signs around. You could find some nice fixer uppers here.
Rock wallsRock walls
Rock walls

The rock walls are unbelieveable. Every field is delimited by them.
Our destinationOur destination
Our destination

Getting closer. Just had to cross the train tracks and start the climb.

Couldn't believe these stairs. We think that is a hand rail attached to the wall but even so...

Quite a group of musicians led the funeral procession through the town. They were followed by the hearse and then the family and other mourners.
Product TipiciProduct Tipici
Product Tipici

We settled on sharing this offering for lunch along with two glasses of white wine. Sat outside in the shade. Very restful.
A site for sore eyesA site for sore eyes
A site for sore eyes

It's always nice to find one of these when you are wandering through an old town. There is even an attendant making sure everything is correct. You didn't have to pay but an offering is appreciated.

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