Francavilla Fontana

Francavilla Fontana has developed on an old Messapian center, as evidenced by archaeological findings. Pliny and Strabo suggest that the original name of the site was " Rudiae ", home of the poet Ennio. Francavilla became a Roman colony, as it emerged from Roman villas built around the second century BC. According to tradition, the present-day Francavilla would be built on the core housing of a Roman settlement, around the fourteenth century, by the will of Philip I of Anjou, Prince of Taranto and lord of Oria. Legend has it that in 1332 Prince Philip has stumbled in a fountain, on whose crumbling wall was painted a portrait of a Mother Mary. On the site of the find the prince would build a church creating a small community called Villa San Salvatore. The village developed rapidly due to the fertile soil and the numerous exemptions offered by the prince. Exemptions in Italian is equal to: “franchigie”, from which derives the term “Franca”. The residential centre then changed name to Villa Franc , which is the city exempted from taxes. Until 1864, the city was known as Francavilla d' Otranto. Then it turned into Francavilla Fontana, in memory of the fountain on which Philip found the effigy. After the Angevin rule, the town passed into the hands of the Orsini, particularly Raimondello del Balzo Orsini, who built the walls. The city became free only in the eighteenth century by the will of Ferdinand IV.

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