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Europe > Italy > Southern Italy > Apulia > Taranto (province) > Taranto

Taranto

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Taranto (Tarantino: Tarde) is a city on the Ionian coast of Apulia, in southeastern Italy. With 200,000 inhabitants it is the third-largest city of Southern Italy and the second-largest city of the region, after the capital Bari. Taranto is home of one of the most important naval bases in Italy and it boasts a thousand-year-old history, having been one of the most powerful cities of the Mediterranean during the Greek period.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Doric columns from the Temple of Poseidon

Taranto was founded in 706 BC by Dorian Greek settlers, as the only Spartan colony outside of Greece (the town is still called "the Spartan city"). A legend gives the credit of the city's foundation to Taras (Τάρας) who, according to Greek mythology, was the son of Poseidon and of the nymph Satyrion; after being saved from a shipwreck by riding a dolphin, sent to him by his father, an image visible on many ancient coins.

The city, effectively named Taras, became soon a commercial and militar power of the Ancient Greek world, as well as the most important and inhabited centre of Magna Graecia. Its golden age finished in 272 BC, with the conquest by the Romans, that chose to favor Brindisi as the main port of the Roman Empire.

The town, now called Tarentum, fell in a period of decline and it was later contested between the Lombards, the Byzantines and the Arabs, being attacked and ransacked several times. It was then conquered by the Normans, that made it the capital of the Principality of Taranto, an almost independent feudal fief of the Kingdom of Sicily (and later of Naples), from 1088 to 1465.

The city was later governed by the Monarchy of Spain (for two centuries) and by the Bourbons, that created the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1815. Taranto had a population of about 18,000 inhabitants, all of them living in the small island of the old town.

After the Italian unification, the city became the main base of the newly formed Italian Navy in 1866, and site of important events like the "Battle of Taranto" in 1940, with the victory of the British naval forces against the Italian ones. An enormous steel mill was built not far from the city centre, causing a controversy that lasts still today, making the town famous only for its industry.

Despite this, Taranto is not only a steel mill, but a place worth visiting with an high amount of artistic and historical treasures.

Climate[edit]

Due to its location in the innermost part of the eponymous gulf Taranto can boast a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with scarce precipitation and average warm temperature during the year.

Summer is quite hot with an average temperature of about 26°C (79°F), but it is generally windy and not very muggy since the town is surrounded by the sea. Autumn and winter are mild and include most of rainfalls but snow is definitely hard to be seen, because average minimum temperature doesn't go below 4°C (39°F). Spring can be relatively humid and with variable temperatures.

Tourist information[edit]

Italian traffic signs - icona informazioni.svg Info-point (Pro Loco Taranto), Piazza Castello (Inside the Aragonese castle), +39 334 284 4098, . 09:00-18:00. Information about the city, nearby tourist destinations and events.

Get in[edit]

The bridge of Porta Napoli connects the old town to the northern suburbs

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Brindisi Airport (BDS IATA known as Aeroporto del Salento), Contrada Baroncino, +39 0831 411 7406. It's the closest airport to Taranto, at about 70 km (43 miles) through Strada Statale 7 Italia.svg freeway and with efficient shuttle services, as well as many rental car agencies; the best way to reach the town from central and northern Europe. It's served by TuiFly, My Air, Alpi Eagles, Alitalia, AirOne and Ryanair. Brindisi Airport (Q849715) on Wikidata Brindisi Airport on Wikipedia
  • 2 Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI IATA), Viale Enzo Ferrari, +39 080 580 0200, toll-free: +39 800 949 944. It represents another option to reach Taranto, mainly because of the higher number of destinations available; it's a little further, at 100 km (62 miles) through the Adriatic motorway. There are approximately 40 various cheap flights into Bari from various European airports. Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (Q779805) on Wikidata Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport on Wikipedia

There are discount flights available from London, Rome, Milan, etc. For a complete list, check out the website of Apulian airports.

By train[edit]

  • 3 Taranto railway station (a few steps north of the old town). You can reach Taranto by Eurostar from Milan, Rome, Bologna, Rimini and Bari without changing trains. Taranto railway station (Q3971085) on Wikidata Taranto railway station on Wikipedia

By car[edit]

The Autostrada A14 Italia.svg runs from Bologna to Taranto, so it is the best way to arrive in town from the main cities of northern Italy and of the Adriatic coast.

  • From Rome: Autostrada A1 Italia.svg until Caserta, Autostrada A30 Italia.svg until Nola, then Autostrada A16 Italia.svg to Canosa di Puglia and finally Autostrada A14 Italia.svg until its end. (5 hrs)
  • From Naples: cross the Basilicata region through Autostrada A3 Italia.svg and Autostrada A2 Italia.svg motorways until Potenza, then Strada Statale 407 Italia.svg Basentana and finally Strada Statale 106 Italia.svg Jonica. (3¼ hrs)
  • From Lecce: drive along Strada Statale 613 Italia.svg until Brindisi, Strada Statale 16 Italia.svg to bypass its centre and finally Strada Statale 7 Italia.svg. (1 hr)

By bus[edit]

The 4 bus terminal is located in Via Cristoforo Colombo, close to the commercial port and few steps away from the stone bridge of Via Napoli. You can reach Taranto from various cities of Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland thanks to different private bus agencies:

Almost all the routes from abroad requires a transfer in Milan or Bologna. Fares can drastically change according to the period and even the day chosen.

By boat[edit]

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

AMAT is the company that manages the local bus transport system. A single ticket (biglietto ordinario) can be purchased at every tobacconist and newspaper seller for €1, or it can be bought on board for €1.50 and it is valid for a single ride. You can also choose a ticket valid for 90 minutes (€1.30), a 1-day solution ticket (€2.60), a 3-days ticket (€6.50) or a 7-days ticket (€15.50).

By car[edit]

On foot[edit]

See[edit]

Taranto has a beautiful Cathedral and a stunning fishing port, with fantastic theatres, nightlife and gorgeous cuisine- scrumptious! Well worth a visit!

  • 1 Aragonese Castle, Piazza Castello, +39 099 775 3438, . 09:30-11:30/14:00-18:00/20:00-01:30. Castello Aragonese (Q450145) on Wikidata Castello Aragonese (Taranto) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Cataldo), Piazza Duomo, +39 099 470 7545. 07:30-12:00/16:30-19:30. Free entry. Taranto Cathedral (Q450083) on Wikidata Taranto Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • 3 Temple of Poseidon (Doric Temple), Piazza Castello. Two doric columns represent the remains of this ancient Greek temple, dedicated to the god of the seas. It dates to the 6th century BC and was unfortunately victim of spoliation during the centuries. The columns stand at 8.47 meters (28 ft) above the ground, in front of the city hall, and they can be admired from behind a gate. Temple of Poseidon (Q476876) on Wikidata Temple of Poseidon (Taranto) on Wikipedia
  • 4 Church of San Domenico Maggiore, Via Duomo, 33, +39 099 707 733. Romanesque-Gothic church built in 1302 over the site of a Byzantine church of the 11th century, built, in turn, on an ancient Greek temple. The entry is reachable through a Baroque staircase erected in the 18th century. Free entry. San Domenico Maggiore (Taranto) (Q1616584) on Wikidata
  • 5 National Archaeological Museum (MArTA), Via Cavour, 10, +39 099 453 8639, . 08:30-19:30. €8 full; €4 reduced; Free up to 18 years and every month's first Sunday. National Archaeological Museum of Taranto (Q637157) on Wikidata
  • 6 Spartan Museum (Museo Spartano), Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 39, +39 330 438 646, . Su 11:00-13:00, other days on reservation.

Do[edit]

Harbor tour[edit]

AMAT company also provides the "idrovie" (waterways) service, consisting in a 1½ hr tour sailing around Big and Little Sea with the presence of a guide that will explain Taranto history as well as telling various curiosities and anecdotes. You will pass by the old town island, modern town coast and San Pietro island, sailing through the navigable channel outgoing and incoming.

Boats leave from mainland dock at Piazzale Democrate, near the stone bridge of Porta Napoli. The cost is €8 for an ordinary ticket, €6 if part of a group of more than 20 people. Tours start at 10:30, 11:00 or 16:30 depending on day and month. Consult AMAT site for detailed info.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Connect[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Cope[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Alberobello – its world-famous characteristic white "trulli". (40 min by car)
  • Brindisi – relevant Romanesque churches and port with ferries to Albania and Greece. (45 min by car)
  • Lecce – the triumph of the Baroque architecture in the heart of Salento peninsula. (1 hr by car)
  • Matera – the suggestive scenario of its "sassi" definitely worth visiting (1 hr by car)
  • Ostuni – the famous "white town" can be discovered after 45 minutes of driving.
Routes through Taranto
BolognaRiminiAnconaPescaraBari  N Autostrada A14 Italia.svg S  END
RomeCasertaPotenzaMatera  W Strada Statale 7 Italia.svg E  Brindisi
END  N Strada Statale 7ter Italia.svg S  Lecce
BariFasanoAlberobelloLocorotondo  N Strada Statale 172 Italia.svg S  END
ENDFasanoAlberobelloLocorotondo  N Strada Statale 106 Italia.svg S  MetapontoPolicoroRoccella IonicaReggio Calabria






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