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MARTINA FRANCA PDO: FROM THE MASSERIE TO THE TRULLI OF VALLE D’ITRIA

Martina Franca PDO, one of the oldest and best known white wines of Apulia, includes Crispiano and the Itria Valley between Alberobello, Ceglie Messapica and Ostuni.

Martina Franca PDO is one of the oldest and most appreciated white wines of Apulia. Its territory stretches from the province of Taranto, including the baroque city from which it takes its name, to Crispiano, continuing through the trulli of the Itria Valley, between Alberobello, Ceglie Messapica and Ostuni.

These are lands and villages that are part of the Ecomuseum Association of the Itria Valley, which has its headquarter in Martina Franca and is responsible for enhancing the area through the recovery of traditions and culinary delights.

Enjoy a stroll through the elegant palaces and richly decorated churches that embellish the old town like jewels, where the most important architectural elements are the Ducal Palace and the San Martino Basilica overlooking Plebiscito Square.

Not to be missed is a visit to the Masseria Galeone: a fixed post of the Territorial Office for Biodiversity, a riding school of the State Forestry Corps, a breeding centre and the seat of the Murgese Horse Museum. It was the first in Italy to propose a new approach to the knowledge of horses and the Murgese breed, used for patrol services in Nature Reserves and National Parks.

In the Martina Franca PDO there is also Crispiano included in the territory of “Le Cento Masserie”. The town, which lies on both sides and among the woods of the Vallone Lizzitello, has received the prestigious award of “European Destination of Excellence for tourism and local gastronomy”. Fascinating are the Vallonee Caves, in the past shelter of Basilian monks and brigands like Don Ciro Annichiarico. In summer, Crispiano hosts the Carnival of the Brigand with parades of allegorical floats and masked groups, enriched with the tasting of bombette, fresh pork meat rolls usually stuffed with cheese, salt and pepper and livers.

The grapes for Martina Franca PDO wine also come from the countryside of Alberobello, a fairy-tale town that is divided between Rione Monti, composed of 1030 trulli lined up along eight uphill streets leading to the Church of Sant’Antonio da Padova, and Rione Aia Piccola, which with its 400 trulli preserves the atmosphere of the old medieval town.

Following the vineyards of this PDO we move to the Brindisi area in the gastronomic main town that is Ceglie Messapica. Its nerve centre is Plebiscito Square on which the Clock Tower stands out. Around the town there are many natural parks: Bosco Insarti, the Natural Area of Sant’Anna and the Contrada Montecchie Park where you can walk among monumental trees, reaching the Montevicoli Caves rich in stalactites and stalagmites.

The last stop on this tour of the Martina Franca PDO wine route is in the Brindisi area in Ostuni, perched on three hills: on the highest, the old town called “La Terra”, where you can admire the Bishop’s Palace joined to the Seminary Palace by the Scoppa arch and the Cathedral. On the main square stands the Spire of Sant’ Oronzo, built for the escaped danger from the plague that scourged the entire kingdom of Naples.

Ostuni is also a wonderful seaside destination with beautiful beaches, small coves and dunes covered with Mediterranean vegetation. In Villanova there is an ancient port built in 1277 by Charles I of Anjou, near which the duchess Bona Sforza had a castle built.