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
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
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
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
Every year in May, the City hosts the National Exhibition
of the Ascension.