Taranto, located in Southern Italy, has a rich past and turbulent present. It has been an economic powerhouse, home to impressive monuments and military outposts, and the birthplace of unique customs and traditions. Here are ten interesting facts highlighting its importance to the region and the world.
Taranto was an important port city of Magna Graecia in ancient times, providing access to the Greek world's resources, markets, and trade routes. It played a major role in commerce during the subsequent ages, becoming an important center for the Mediterranean region and the Mediterranean Sea.
By the early 1900s, Taranto had Italy's second-largest military base. Today, Taranto still holds an important place in the Italian military, being one of the country's largest and most strategic naval bases.
Taranto is a bustling port city with a vibrant market culture and several iconic landmarks. This includes numerous Byzantine churches, the Castello Aragonese and Castle of Ruggiero, and the ancient theater.
Though originally Greek, Taranto was eventually dominated by the Romans and the Byzantines. Eventually, it was overrun by the Angevins, Hautevilles, and other local potentates.
Taranto has an undeniably unique cuisine, especially the traditional purplish bread known as "Pane di Taranto." Gourmet local dishes include the "fraccheddha," a fish soup, and the "cazone," made with pecorino cheese, anchovies, and ricotta.
Taranto is strongly linked to the myths of classical antiquity, such as the story of the Argonauts and the founding of the city by Scylla, the sea monster.
Taranto is home to the impressive Cathedral dedicated to St. Cataldo. It is the see of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Taranto.
Taranto is also famous for its Fiera del Levante, a bi-annual fair of which the tradition goes back to Henry VI of Swabia at the end of the 12th century.
Taranto is known for its association with the characteristic Tarantella dance. A frenetic folk dance often accompanied by instruments like tambourines, mandolins, and accordions.
Finally, in its waters rests the "Flower of the sea," a mysterious shipwreck believed to date back to the 5th century BC. The underwater archaeological park was opened in 1996, providing a unique insight into the past.