In Taranto: The City of two Seas

For a night and a day, Orna and I weaved our way around the labyrinth of narrow travertine alleyways inside the tiny old town of Taranto — La Città dei due Mari — in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy, and ate fantastic seafood, as we bided our time before her first of two cataract surgeries at Casa di Cura Bernardini. So far, so good.

Bookended by the Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo on the Ionian Sea, Taranto was colonized by the mighty, sandal-clad Spartan warriors of Ancient Greece back in 706 BC, named Taras and served as one of the principal cities of Magna Graecia until the Romans extended the Appian Way, booted out the Greeks, took over and renamed the city Tarentum.

Today, Taranto is really a tale of two cities: the ancient and somewhat derelict centro storico, now a man-made island, featuring the impressive Aragon Castle, that’s connected by two bridges; and, it’s modern, swankier counterpart with wide avenues, bustling commerce, a scenic seaside promenade and white-knuckle traffic.

Not your typical tourist destination, Taranto is anchored to its illustrious Greco-Roman past that’s on display in one of Italy’s finest Magna Graecia archeological museums, MArTA. If that doesn’t draw you in, then how about some of the finest mussels on the planet, harvested right here in the bays of Taranto and prepared in a variety of ways.




  1. Nice tale, delightfully written, about a very cool but touristically little known city.
    I love Taranto and have spent some considerable time in the province over many years, principally around Castellaneta (which is also worth a story). In fact, we will be going back again this summer for our hols, and definitely will take the time to enjoy seafood in Taranto’s old city!

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