The town of the ceramic handicrafts
The town of the Valle d’Itria
Tour by bus. Distance: 50 + 24 Km
GROTTAGLIE – The name Grottaglie derives from the Latin Cryptae Aliae, meaning “many ravines”, which has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. The ancestral part of Grottaglie was one of the citadels in the area, referred to in Medieval documents as Casale Cryptalerum, founded during the Dark Ages by the inhabitants of the caves who sheltered there due to Saracen invasions.
The fief of Grottaglie was donated by the Norman overlords to the archbishopric of Taranto in the 11th century. In the 14th century the ecclesiastic administration provided the fief with fortifications, walls, a castle (Castello Episcopio, Italian for “archbishop’s castle”) as well as with the Chiesa Madre (“Mother church”).
Grapes and ceramics-industry are two traditional elements of the local economy since the times of Greater Greece.
The numerous ceramic finds, tracing back to the Classical Age and kept in the National Museum of “Magna Grecia” in Taranto, reveal the antique roots of this handicrafts production which was privileged by the presence of clays in the surrounding territory.
MARTINA FRANCA – In the highest part of the Murge, between Taranto and Brindisi, lies one of the most characteristic towns of the Puglia region: Martina Franca. The old town has the greatest tourist appeal, with its fabulous and completely intact baroque buildings. Martina Franca has a unique setting, dominating the Valle d’Itria, known as the Valley of the Trulli with its vineyards, small groups of picturesque white houses, dry stone walls and open countryside. The climate adds to the appeal, and, due to its position 400 meters above sea level, a wonderfully mild temperature throughout the summer months is guaranteed. The architecture of the historic part of town is charming with small white houses, narrow lanes, wrought iron balconies covered in flowers, Palazzi and Churches, and monuments including the gateway Porta di St. Antonio, the Arch of St Stefano, Palazzo Ducale and the Collegiata of St Martino.