Martina Franca, the 'City of Wine', is located in the province of Taranto, just over the border from the province of Bari and a stone's throw away from Alberobello, the famous town of the trulli. All things considered this is very much Itria Valley.
It takes its name from the tax exemptions or 'franche' enjoyed by the inhabitants when Philippe d'Anjou, the Prince of Taranto, was in charge. The Prince wanted a secure town on the summit of San Martino hill overlooking the wild valley.
The 'Martina' comes from S.Martino who built the first houses for the refuges of Taranto escaping from the Saracens in the 10th century. It was the original inhabitants, led by the monks of Greek origin, who first cultivated the arid land.