FRANCAVILLA FONTANA

Francavilla Fontana is a city of Puglia Salentina, in the province of Brindisi. It was founded by the Messapians during the pre-Roman era.

It passed under Roman influence (III Century BC) and was inserted along the Via Appia (Appian Way) route, though Francavilla was not meant to be a very important nor developed centre.
From this period, there are remains of a rustic villa from Roman times near to the Reale (Royal) Canal in the district of S. Lorenzo.
Today’s Francavilla owes its birth to Prince Filippo of Angiò, who in 1332, whilst hunting ran into an image of the Madonna painted on a crumbling wall near to a fountain. On the Prince’s wishes, a church was erected which took on the name of S. Maria of the Fountain. Around this church was where the rural home of Villa San Salvatore had its origins. The habitation developed quickly, thanks to the Prince’s decision to declare the new town a tax free haven and changed its name to Franca Villa, meaning "Franca" (tax-free) and "villa" (town); a place where tax contributions are exempt.
In 1864, the habitation took on the name of Francavilla Fontana to also commemorate the vision of the Madonna.
In 1364, Filippo II of Angiò had the district of Franca Villa fortified, which then knew the Lordship of many families, among which: the Balzo Orsini, Borromeo and the Imperiali family, who were in power until the end of the 18th Century when Ferdinand IV of Bourbon declared it a free and royal city.
In 1455, Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini had a square tower built (then amplified in 1536 with another three towers), nucleus of the future Palazzo Imperiali (1701-1730).
One can enter Francavilla through one of the three doorways which open along the medieval walls: Porta del Carmine, built on the wishes of the Imperiali Family (1640); Porta dei Cappuccini (18th Century) and Porta della Croce (1714).
The district is embellished by the presence of splendid noble buildings (Pepe, Bottari, Cotogno, Argentina, Binaco, Giannuzzi-Carissimo) which accompany the visitor along the path towards the 18th Century Cathedral dedicated to the Madonna of the Rosary; this Cathedral is situated where Prince Filippo had his sacred vision.
Among other churches worth visiting, we can mention: the Carmine and S. Maria della Croce (S. Maria of the Cross), both constructed during the first half of the ‘500s. Just outside the portal, one can also visit the Spirito Santo Church (Holy Spirit).
Every year in May, the City hosts the National Exhibition of the Ascension.

FRANCAVILLA FONTANA
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