Welcome to Taranto, Italy! This city, which is found in the heel of this boot-shaped country, is well known for its beaches, archaeological sites, and food. You’ll find this city full of history and culture, so there will be plenty to occupy yourself with during your visit.
Taranto Travel Guide
The Castello Aragonese is a medieval castle located on an island in Taranto Harbour. The castle was originally built in the late 15th century by King Ferdinand II of Naples, and it has been used as a military fortress, prison, and palace over the years.
Through its life, it saw action on one occasion, when it stood up to an Ottoman attack in the late 16th century. However, advances in weaponry soon rendered its walls to be ineffective.
The National Archaeological Museum of Taranto is home to a large collection of ancient artifacts from the Taranto area. The museum is housed in what used to be a former convent for Alcantarini monks.
Inside, its exhibits on Greek, Roman, and Byzantine artifacts will keep you busy for hours. During your time here, you’ll find statues, mosaics, vases, and much more.
Then, if you haven’t had your fill of ancient artifacts, head over to The Spartan Museum of Taranto. As the name suggests, you’ll find galleries dedicated to the history and culture of the Spartans.
Now, this may confuse you – after all, weren’t the Spartans a Greek people? Well, they were, but historians have traced their origins to the Taranto area. Inside, this museum has a large collection of archaeological artifacts, including pottery, weapons, and jewelry. Don’t leave without checking out the Hypogeum Bellacicco, an underground temple used by the Spartans long ago.
After that, move on to the Taranto Cathedral. This church was built in the 10th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Taranto. It was originally made in the Romanesque style – however, renovations over its history have also given it Baroque and Rococo features.
Inside, you’ll find floor mosaics from the Byzantine period, marble statues, and even a crypt decorated with spectacular frescoes.
If you love dolphins, go out on an expedition run by the Jonian Dolphin Conservation Association. By doing so, you’ll get to observe dolphins in their natural habitat. These creatures are social animals, so if you encounter them, it’ll likely be an emotional experience.
Through the trip, staff members will be on hand to answer any questions you might have, so don’t be shy. Allow at least a couple of hours for this activity.
Most of the year, the climate blesses southern Italy with sunny, hot weather. Make the most of it by spending an entire day at the Lido Ultima Spiaggia Beach Club. You’ll find this seaside paradise a half-hour by car southeast of the city of Taranto – a healthy distance, to be sure.
But this voyage will be worth it. Shortly after arriving at Lido Ultima Spiaggia, you’ll get access to an immaculate white sand beach, sun loungers, umbrellas, showers, and changing rooms. And when the sun gets low, an on-site bar and restaurant will supply all your food and drink needs.
Back in town, go for a stroll with the locals down Lungomare Vittorio Emanuele III. This street is a beautiful promenade that runs for over four kilometers along the coast of Taranto. With swaying palm trees, it is a popular spot for walking, jogging, and cycling. However, if the thought of exercise makes you exhausted, there are plenty of places to rest and have ice cream along the way.
Lastly, don’t leave town without exploring the Centro Storico di Taranto. As the name suggests, this is the historic center of Taranto, complete with narrow streets and crumbling architecture. Due to inattention by the government, this place is not perfect. But if you like grit, this spot may appeal to you.
What To Eat/Drink
First, try ‘nduja, as it’s a local specialty. This is a type of pork sausage that’s heavily spiced with pepper. It’s often spread on bread, or used in dishes like pasta or risotto.
Next, Taranto is also known for its street food. Head to one of the city’s many piazzas, and buy a pizza slice from a street vendor. Now, this sounds like a cop-out suggestion, but Taranto isn’t far from Naples. As such, you can expect a wedge with fragrant cheese and top-quality toppings.
Lastly, end your day in style with a glass of one of the more popular wines in Taranto: Primitivo. This red wine pairs best with a hearty meal, but it can also be enjoyed as a nightcap.