Taranto is located in southern Italy. It is the capital of Taranto province. It is about midway down the western coast of the peninsula that forms the famous heel of the Italian boot.
Taranto is also known as the "town of two seas" with a revolving bridge since it is situated on the isthmus that divides the two inlets of Mar Piccolo (Little Sea) and Mar Grande (Big Sea).
The old town is built on a low rocky island between the Mar Grande and the Mar Piccolo, which runs deep inland on the northeast side of the town. From here a bridge leads to the Borgo (new town), an industrial suburb to the northwest, which in turn is linked by a swing bridge “Ponte Girevole” with the new town, situated on a peninsula, to the south of the old town.
Its roads recall the old monuments to the Hellenic civilization which was here and which reappears through the archaeological remains preserved in the National Museum of Taranto offering a striking insight into the ancient splendour of Taranto. Inside, a magnificent collection of 50,000 pieces of Greek terracotta is on display.
A fascinating sight of the old town is for sure the remains of Two Great Columns belonging to the Archaic Doric temple , which once adorned a temple of Poseidon. The legend says that the son of Poseidon, Taras, was the founder of the city. Nearby this site there is the well-known Aragonese Castle, visible only from the outside, since it is navy property. The magnificent XII century Cathedral of San Cataldo, which once was also a mosque, rises at the heart of the old town. It represents one of Apulia oldest Romanesque buildings.
The modern centre is indeed a very pleasant surprise. Its wide streets laid out on a grid pattern that forms the centre of the city's passeggiata with shopping streets and various restaurants around Piazza Garibaldi, Piazzas Vittoria and Piazza Archita.
Nearby, the Villa Peripato is a beautiful construction of historic Taranto, while the gigantic rust-red Palazzo del Governo dominates the area.
Very old history can be also found in the surroundings of Taranto. Leporano, Pulsano and especially Manduria are witnesses to ancient civilisations, evident in the amount of archaeological findings, created before Rome's glory. In the country, the town of Martina Franca with its baroque palace and its stupendous balcony facing the fascinating Itria Valley is particularly interesting at historic and artistic level. Some of the more remote sights and wonderful beaches are well connected by public transport.
Taranto's location on a peninsula between two seas ensures that plenty of oysters, mussels, and other shellfish will wind up on your plate.
The gastronomy of Taranto can be seen as an admirable synthesis of sea and country food.
The tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, artichokes and legumes are also particularly tasty, skilfully blended with the shellfish, fish or pasta. The dairy produce is excellent, such as the mozzarellas and fresh provola cheese, while juicy citric fruit, very sweet grapes and "giant" water melons are always present on the tables of the Ionian city. Finally, there is a wide range of wines to choose from, while the extra-virgin olive oil and the liqueurs are renowned.