Martina Franca is a beguiling town with a dazzling mixture of medieval and Baroque architecture in the light-color local stone. Developed as a military stronghold in the 14th century, all that remains of the defensive walls are the four gates that divide the old part from the modern suburbs. Lose yourself in the maze of twisting white alleyways, where erstwhile palaces jostle with ancient churches and narrow stairways leading up to humbler abodes. No longer a little-known backwater, the centro storico can be crowded with sightseers on the weekends. The positive side is that this has led to the emergence of top-quality restaurants, and you'll be spoiled for choice. Each July into early August, the town hosts the Valle d'Itria music festival (www.festivaldellavalleditria.it).
Not everyone has the courage to explore these macabre destinations. Do you?More