The Province of Taranto:
A Marriage of Land and Sea
The coast of Taranto in the region of Puglia spans over 87 miles. There is a diverse and beautiful natural landscape comprised of wild areas with sheer cliffs and long stretches of sandy beaches that blend with the deep blue sea. Rolling hills, wide valleys and rocky areas also make up the landscape. The characteristic villages are ancient and the isolated farms and karst caves are a sign of ancient rock dwellings. In many areas, the famous trulli, typical Apulian cone-shaped buildings are visible. Many farmhouses have been restored and today accommodate important farming and winery activities, attesting to Puglia’s ancient tradition of producing excellent products, such as olive oil and wine.
Taranto is known as “The City of Two Seas.” Located on a piece of land that separates the open sea, it divides what are known as Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo. The artificial channel that connects them is surmounted by the famous Swing Bridge, beyond which lies the heart of old Taranto, an ancient medieval town comprised of the Cathedral of San Cataldo, the Aragonese Castle, also known as Castel Sant’Angelo and other monuments that recount its ancient origins.
It may be the city of two seas, but it is also the city with two faces, because beyond the bridge, progress and modernity have designed the new Taranto, a city developed around the 19th-century village facing the waterway. Housed in the former Convent of San Pasquale Alcantarini, the National Archaeological Museum is famous for its rich collection of rare finds.
Along the coast are lovely places to enjoy a relaxing vacation, whether diving into the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea or simply enjoying the sun while lying on the white sand. In the coastal town of Marina di Pulsano, low cliffs, white inlets and clear waters offer visitors a truly beautiful landscape. To the south of the provincial capital, Marina di Leporano, is perfect for those who prefer a jagged coastline with cliffs interrupted by small sandy beaches.
In Massafra, the Ravines of San Marco and La Scala are a dense network of paths, slopes, caves and places of worship around which the modern part of the town was built. The Ravine of Laterza, 7.5 miles long, is of considerable size and historical importance as evidence of the ancient origins of this town. Grottaglie is an ancient village whose first settlements date back to the 1st Century A.D. It is famous worldwide for its handmade pottery, a craft whose roots go back to ancient times.
The area’s ancient farms became spearheads of local agricultural development during the Middle Ages. They are scattered all over the Apulian territory, but around Crispiano are some 100, thus earning it the nickname, the city of 100 farms.
North of Taranto is Martina Franca, a charming town that overlooks the Itria Valley. Its lush green nature contrastis with the white trulli and ancient farms that frame the old town’s Baroque architecture.
The desire to rediscover things made according to historic traditions has grown significantly in recent years. Hence, the idea of “routes” dedicated to experiencing authentic flavors and traditional crafts has expanded in Taranto Province, with many routes for enjoying the finest wines and olive oils, or the creative art of ceramics that has made this land famous.
The many landscapes offer the possibility of organizing interesting excursions. Lovers of photography and birdwatching will enjoy the Lake of Salinella near Marina Ginosa, home to a rich variety of wildlife and birds, while golf enthusiasts can find ideal places to play in the beautiful scenery of Riva dei Tessali.
The gastronomy of the province is characterized by both the land and sea. Mussels and oysters, the pride of Taranto, can be tasted along with typical Apulian pasta and enhanced by local extra-virgin olive oil. Local crops provide excellent raw materials for dishes based on vegetables and beans. Do not go without tasting the typical cheeses, among all the burrata and sausages, including the tasty capocollo of Martina Franca.
Finally, a wide variety of sweet fruits round out the menu, including grapes, oranges and the famous clementines of the Gulf of Taranto. These flavors should be paired with the excellent wines of the province, such as the Primitivo di Manduria, the Martina Franca and the Lizzano.