Puglia, often known as Apulia, forms part of the heel of the ‘boot’ of Italy, see the map below. With a population of about 4 million, Puglia is one of the least-known parts of Italy, but in recent years it has become increasingly popular with foreign visitors, both for holiday stays, and for permanent residence.
The capital of Puglia is Bari, and there are international airports both at Bari itself and at Brindisi.
Martina Franca, in the centre of the peninsula, has just such a centro storico, which is pedestrianized, and full of well-preserved ancient noble palaces and churches, many in a style known as ‘barocco martino’. The town is equidistant between beaches on the east and west, and is connected by rail to Bari and Taranto.
Martina Franca sits in the middle of the ‘Valle d’Itria’, a particularly beautiful area in which the prevailing style of local building was the trullo.
Although modern Italian is taught in school in Puglia, and everyone can speak it, the mostly rural population prefers to speak in dialect. Sometimes these dialects are surprisingly varied, even between neighbouring towns. The dialect in Martina Franca is North African in origin, while in Locorotondo, just seven kilometers away, they speak a Greek-based dialect.