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.
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.
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.
- 1 Brindisi Airport (BDS IATA known as Aeroporto del Salento), Contrada Baroncino, ☏ . It's the closest airport to Taranto, at about 70 km (43 miles) through 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, ITA Airways, AirOne and Ryanair.
- 2 Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI IATA), Viale Enzo Ferrari, ☏ , toll-free: . 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.
There are discount flights available from London, Rome, Milan, etc. For a complete list, check out the website of Apulian airports.
- 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.
- From Rome: until Caserta, until Nola, then to Canosa di Puglia and finally until its end. (5 hrs)
- From Naples: cross the Basilicata region through and motorways until Potenza, then Basentana and finally Jonica. (3¼ hrs)
- From Lecce: drive along until Brindisi, to bypass its centre and finally . (1 hr)
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:
- Buscenter from Bologna, Catania, Milan, Turin, Palermo and other Sicilian towns.
- Flixbus from 76 destinations in Italy and Europe such as Florence, Genoa, Matera, Milan, Munich, Nuremberg, Pescara, Pompeii, Rome, Venice.
- Marino Bus from Bologna, Foggia, Frankfurt, Lucerne, Milan, Naples, Stuttgart, Turin, Zurich and other localities.
- Marozzi from Bari, Brindisi, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Siena.
- Miccolis from Caserta, Matera, Naples, Pompeii, Potenza, Salerno.
- Ouibus from Bologna and Milan.
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.
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).
- 1 Aragonese Castle, Piazza Castello, ☏ , email@example.com. 09:30-11:30/14:00-18:00/20:00-01:30.
- 2 Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Cataldo), Piazza Duomo, ☏ . 07:30-12:00/16:30-19:30. Free entry.
- 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.
- 4 Church of San Domenico Maggiore, Via Duomo, 33, ☏ . 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.
- 5 National Archaeological Museum (MArTA), Via Cavour, 10, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:30-19:30. €8 full; €4 reduced; Free up to 18 years and every month's first Sunday.
- 6 Spartan Museum (Museo Spartano), Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 39, ☏ , email@example.com. Su 11:00-13:00, other days on reservation.
- 7 Via Marche necropolis, ☏ . The largest funerary area of the ancient Greek polis: 140 burial sites from 7th to 3rd century BC visible from a walkway under a glass and iron roof.
- 8 Via Pio XII Chamber tomb (Tomba a camera), ☏ . W, Sa, Su 09:00-12:30. 3rd century BC hypogeum rich of sculptural elements and preserved pictorial decorations, as well as two klinai (funeral beds) and a semi-chambered tomb.
- 9 Athlets tomb (Tomba degli Atleti), Via Francesco Crispi, 2 (Corner of via Pitagora and via Crispi), ☏ . W, Sa, Su 09:00-13:00. Large chambered tomb with a quadrangular plan built and paved with carparo blocks during the 5th century BC, where have been collocated accurate replicas of the grave goods, mainly ceramic vases.
AMAT company also provides the 1 "idrovie" (waterways) service, consisting in a 1½ hr tour sailing around the 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.
- 1 Ricci - Pizzaioli dal 1963, Piazza Maria Immacolata, 22/23, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 11:00-15:00/18:00-00:30, Sa-Su 11:00-15:30/18:30-01:00. Probably the pest pizzeria in town where you can choose between a large amount of varieties, as well as rich salads, hamburger and panzerotti. Located in the very centre of the new town.
- 2 Il Porto, Via Porto, 8 (old town), ☏ . 09:00-01:30 closed on Tuesdays. One of the best places to discover the local seafood cuisine and typical Italian dishes.
One of the most popular drinks is without doubt "Birra Raffo" the beer of Taranto par excellence. Deep-rooted in the recent history and society of the town it represents a sort of local institution that can be enjoyed practically in every bar or restaurant.
- 1 TaBir Birroteca Tarantina, Via Cavour, 35, ☏ . Su-Thu 18:40-01:00, W-F 18:40-02:00. An ideal place for all beer lovers with many varieties to taste in a friendly pub, along with aperitifs and salty snacks.
- 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)
- Martina Franca – large old town rich of Baroque buildings. (½ 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|
|Bologna ← Rimini ← Ancona ← Pescara ← Bari ←||N S||→ END|
|Rome ← Caserta ← Potenza ← Matera ←||W E||→ Brindisi|
|END ←||N S||→ Manduria → Lecce|
|Bari ← Alberobello ← Locorotondo ← Martina Franca ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Metaponto → Policoro → Roccella Ionica → Reggio Calabria|